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updated: 10/6/2013 8:02 PM

Slow start costs confused Bears

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  • Another rocky start by quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears' offense Sunday created a hole that was too deep to escape against the undefeated Saints.

      Another rocky start by quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears' offense Sunday created a hole that was too deep to escape against the undefeated Saints.
    Associated Press

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Jermon Bushrod smiled and shook his head.

But it wasn't a happy sort of grin. It was one of surprise and maybe even surrender.

The Bears' left tackle departed New Orleans after last season in favor of big money in Chicago, but not far removed from the Saints and with memories of a much better time, Bushrod knows the New Orleans team that manhandled the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday is a team poised to go a very long way.

"The defense, I would compare it to the Super Bowl year," Bushrod said of his 2009 Saints that won it all. "(Former defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams would mix up the fronts, mix up the looks. That's what they did today.

"Honestly, I've never played against a team where they had two defensive ends and a middle linebacker rushing on me. I had (inside linebacker) Curtis Lofton on me, a whole bunch of defensive backs on me.

"You don't see that kind of stuff."

Saints defensive boss Rob Ryan had the Bears off balance from the start, his defense collecting 3 sacks of Jay Cutler in the first four possessions, leading to a fumble and three series of three plays or fewer.

"When you're not familiar with something, you kind of get, well, not rattled, but it catches you off guard," Bushrod said. "We made adjustments and we had a solid plan, and if they showed it again we took care of it."

But the slow start doomed the Bears. They were down 13-0 with 5:57 left in the second quarter and at that point had run only 18 plays in five series. By the end of the first half the Bears were down 20-7 and New Orleans had a time of possession edge of 17:19 to 12:41.

Drew Brees had already thrown for 195 yards, and tight end Jimmy Graham had 7 catches for 106 yards.

"When you get on the other side of the field from him, with Drew playing the way he is, you definitely don't want him out on the field that much. It's our job on offense to keep the ball away from him," Bushrod said. "You understand you can't give them all those chances, and definitely not with a short field.

"Second half we did a better job of being balanced and running the ball and keeping possession of the ball."

It was too late. The Bears scored with 2:11 remaining in the game to make it 26-18 and appear closer than it really was. Brees finished with 288 yards and would have had much more if the Saints not been eating clock, and Graham had 135 receiving yards as he tied an NFL record for tight ends with his fourth straight game of 100-plus yards (Tony Gonzalez).

Cutler wound up with some nice numbers (358 yards), but anyone who watched the game knows the Bears' offense really struggled with the Saints' defense.

Bushrod said it was confusing, Marc Trestman said, "We hadn't really seen (those blitzes)," but Cutler said, "It was nothing we haven't seen or practiced against. There were just some miscommunications. Three (sacks) in this game are significant and it hurts."

Muddling the situation further, center Roberto Garza tried to take responsibility for identifying the blitz and making the right calls. "I have to do a better job of pointing to the right guys," he said. "We gotta be on the same page."

Regardless of what they knew or didn't ahead of time, and who's to blame, the fact is Ryan won the chess game and his aggressiveness early put the Bears in a hole, leading to a time-of-possession advantage of 36 minutes to only 24 for the Bears.

"We can't do that to our defense. We gotta get off the field," said rookie guard Jordan Mills. "Really, it was just a couple mistakes early that probably cost us the game."

There was plenty of bad Sunday and more than just a few mistakes as the Bears fell to 3-2, but they can take some solace in knowing the Saints (5-0) are the best team in the NFC, and the worst team in the NFC -- New York (0-5) -- comes to town Thursday.

"The big thing now is to take the emotion out of (this loss)," Trestman said. "The guys will have 24 hours to do that and the coaches will move on quickly to the Giants."

The Giants are long past desperate and far past terrible, and the Bears have a habit of getting fat on the NFL's downtrodden.

A chance to stuff themselves is only a few days away.

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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