Trubisky can't lift Bears over Saints
Trailing the Saints for nearly the entire game, the Bears loosened the reins on rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but they still came up short, ending a modest two-game win streak.
Trubisky completed 14 of 32 passes for 164 yards, with 1 interception and a passer rating of 46.9, the lowest of any of his four starts. The 20-12 loss in New Orleans dropped the Bears to 3-5, while the Saints improved to 5-2.
In his previous two starts, Trubisky threw just 23 passes and completed 12.
"It was a great effort by our football team," Bears coach John Fox said. "We just came up a little short."
The Bears lost three starters along the way -- tight end Zach Miller (knee), guard Kyle Long (hand) and center Cody Whitehair (elbow), and they also had what appeared to be an indisputable touchdowns taken away.
Despite all that, Trubisky's legs gave the Bears a chance at a comeback late in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 17-6, Trubisky bolted for 46 yards to set up Tarik Cohen's 1-yard TD run. The 2-point conversion failed, leaving the Bears behind 17-12 with 3:43 remaining.
The Saints had a chance to run out the clock at the Bears' 26-yard line, but safety Adrian Amos ripped the ball out of Mark Ingram's grasp and recovered it at the Bears' 30.
On fourth-and-1, though, Trubisky's pass intended for Kendall Wright fell incomplete with 1:51 remaining. The Saints took over and added a 49-yard field goal by Wil Lutz.
The Bears had one last chance, but with no timeouts remaining and in desperation mode, Trubisky was intercepted by Marshon Lattimore at the Saints' 27 with 1:11 left in the game.
"I had to get it over the linebacker, and I just left it a little bit too high," Trubisky said. "We had what we wanted, and it was a good call, I just missed a little bit. I've made that throw hundreds of times, so (I'll) just learn from it, get better. Just have to bring it down a little bit and give the receiver a better chance."
The most painful and devastating play of the Bears' season occurred on what appeared, from every available angle, to be a 25-yard touchdown reception by the oft-injured Miller.
As Miller came down in the endzone with Trubisky's toss, he landed awkwardly, and his left knee buckled grotesquely under his weight. Miller bobbled the ball but never lost control and the call of the field was "touchdown."
Inexplicably, it was reversed, and the Bears settled for Connor Barth's 43-yard field goal which left them trailing 14-6.
"It doesn't really matter what I think," Fox said when asked about the reversal. "It's hard to answer."
Worse than the call, the injury will leave the Bears without Miller for the rest of the season with a dislocated knee. He came into the game tied for the team lead with 236 receiving yards.
"Zach means a lot to this team beyond the X's and O's," Trubisky said. "(Not just) what he brings to the field, but what he brings as a person, to me specifically, how much he's helped me grow over this process."
A fractured foot ended Miller's 2016 season after 10 games, the same injury that caused him to miss the entire 2014 season. A calf injury and torn Achilles in 2012 wiped out that season. At one point, he went more than three years (2011-14) without playing in a game because of injuries. A dislocated shoulder in 2011 started the run of misfortune.
The Bears had a chance to cut into the Saints' 14-3 lead just before halftime, but Barth was wide left on a 48-yard FG attempt.
After spotting the Saints a touchdown that should have been a field goal, the Bears responded with a long drive that ended with Barth's 27-yard field goal, cutting their deficit to 7-3.
Trubisky's perfectly placed deep ball to Tre McBride for 45 yards got the Bears into FG range.
On the game's opening possession, the Saints took a 32-yard Lutz field goal off the board when Kyle Fuller was flagged for lining up offsides on the FG attempt. That gave New Orleans a first down at the Bears' eight-yard line from where rookie running back Alvin Kamara opened the scoring.
The Bears lost Long in the second quarter with a hand injury and center Whitehair later with an arm injury. Neither returned, and the Bears were forced to move guard Josh Sitton to center, with backups Tom Compton and Bradley Sowell stepping in at the guard spots.
"I think (Long) was capable of going back in," Fox said. "But we decided to put a healthy guy in there instead, which I would do again."
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