Saints move to 5-0 behind Hartley, Brees
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Garrett Hartley booted four field goals and Drew Brees threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns as the New Orleans Saints remained perfect with a 26-18 decision over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Brees was an efficient 29-of-35 with two touchdowns to Pierre Thomas for the Saints (5-0), who received 10 receptions for 135 yards from Jimmy Graham.
"We knew the formula coming into this game was to remain patient, to run the football effectively, to be very efficient in the passing game and to take care of the football," Brees said, "And we were fortunate to be able to do all those things."
Thomas ended up with 55 yards on nine grabs, but was limited to 36 rushing yards on 19 carries.
New Orleans has won 13 straight regular-season games under head coach Sean Payton dating back to 2011, before his year-long suspension was served.
Alshon Jeffery led the way with a franchise-record 218 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches for the Bears (3-2), who look to snap a two- game slide when they host the winless Giants this coming Thursday.
Jay Cutler finished 24-of-33 for 358 yards and had another scoring pass to Brandon Marshall, while Matt Forte totaled 55 yards on 12 carries in defeat.
New Orleans drew the Bears offsides on a 4th-and-1 near midfield with just under six minutes to play in the contest, and eventually Hartley converted his fourth and final three-pointer, a 48-yarder, to give the visitors a 26-10 advantage with 3:01 to go.
Cutler then hit Jeffery on three straight plays, the last one a 58-yard completion to the Saints' 2-yard line. It was a 26-16 game after Marshall's TD reception on the next play, and Forte's conversion run brought the Bears within eight with 2:11 on the clock.
The Saints recovered the onside kick at the Bears' 45 but eventually had to punt. Chicago ran one play, the record-breaking 21-yard completion to Jeffery, before time expired.
"Against a team like that, the way they played offensively and ate up the clock it's hard to rebound if you miss three or four plays in the game," Cutler admitted.
New Orleans' defense held the Bears to a three-and-out on the game's first possession. Hartley was good from 47 yards away and the Saints led 3-0 after the second series of the contest.
On the next play after the kickoff, Cutler coughed up the ball when caught from behind by Malcolm Jenkins. Cameron Jordan recovered and rumbled 11 yards to the Chicago 6-yard line. Two rushes and a short pass failed to get New Orleans into the end zone, though, and Hartley connected from 19 yards out for a 6-0 game.
New Orleans went up 13-0 inside of six minutes left in the half after Thomas caught a short pass and dove for the right pylon from two yards away to cap a 72-yard drive.
Chicago responded on its ensuing series, as Cutler hit Jeffery for a 3-yard TD and 13-7 game with 2:41 to go before intermission. However, Thomas broke free up the middle for a 25-yard catch-and-run score in the final minute that gave the Saints a 20-7 advantage at the break.
The Saints led 23-7 after Hartley was true from 36 yards away with 8:03 left in the third quarter to complete a 60-yard march. The Bears came back with a 27-yarder from Robbie Gould that capped a 71-yard series.
New Orleans evened the all-time series with Chicago at 13 wins apiece, having taken two in a row and five of the last eight meetings since 2000 ... Harlan Hill held the Bears' previous single-game receiving yardage mark of 214, set in 1954 ... Graham tied an NFL record for tight ends with his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, tying Tony Gonzalez's mark set in 2000 ... Chicago defensive tackle Nate Collins left the game late in the third quarter and did not return due to a left knee injury.
10/06 20:09:44 ET