Saints 29

(3-0, 2-0 away)

Bears 23

(2-1, 1-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 22, 2002


1 2 3 4 T
NO 0 14 7 829
CHI 10 10 0 323

Saints erase 20-point deficit to go 3-0

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- The New Orleans Saints wouldn't go away, even when it appeared they would be blown out. That's why they're still unbeaten.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Bears: Did the Bears get too conservative in the second half?
No, the Bears played their game. They're basically a ball-controlled offense, with a defense that thrives on take-aways and big plays. Unfortunately, they weren't able to capitalize on some opportunities against the Saints. They generally don't like to be in a situation where Jim Miller is forced to throw at the end of the game. The Bears want to control the clock, but their running game just didn't allow them to do that today.

Question on the Saints: Have the Saints now established themselves as a legitimate contender in the NFC?
Yes, New Orleans is the No. 1 team in the NFC right now. Not based on the preseason, but during the regular season, when games won and lost actually count. The players are doing the job and QB Aaron Brooks is playing outstanding.

Eric Allen played 14 seasons in the NFL for the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

"You never want to put yourself in that kind of a hole, but with the way we can score, we don't think we're out of it,'' quarterback Aaron Brooks said after the Saints rallied from a 20-0 deficit to beat the Chicago Bears 29-23 Sunday.

"It's tough when you're down 20-0, especially in the NFL,'' Brooks said. "We were lucky we didn't get blown out. We could have been down 28-0 at the half.''

Instead, the Saints (3-0) got back in the game by scoring two touchdowns in a 58-second span in the second quarter and pulled it out when Donte' Stallworth made a great move to score on a 29-yard pass from Brooks with 1:11 left in the game.

Sammy Knight then stopped a last-second Bears drive by intercepting a pass by Jim Miller at the goal line, turning away Chicago (2-1), which had won its 12 previous games decided by a touchdown or less.

"It shouldn't have come down to the way it did,'' Miller said.

"The play didn't develop. If you let it develop any longer the clock runs out, so either I've got to throw it out of the end zone or throw it quick.''

On the winning drive, Brooks had a 14-yard scramble and threw an 11-yard pass to Joe Horn to get to the Bears 31. On second down, Stallworth caught the pass near the sideline, got around defensive back Reggie Austin and coasted into the end zone to make it 27-23. Brooks then ran in for two points.

"They left me 1-one-1 on the corner and I got past him and then I wasn't stopping. I kind of knew he was going to miss his tackle because he jumped way outside,'' Stallworth said.

"He was my man. He ran an out route and I missed the tackle,'' said Austin, who had an interception in his first career start. "I have to make that tackle. Nine times out of 10, I make that play.''

The Bears drove to the Saints 18 when Miller hit a 19-yard pass to Marty Booker and, after using his final timeout, an 18-yarder to Dez White. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Miller threw into a crowd at the front of the end zone and Knight intercepted with 2 seconds remaining.

Trailing 20-0 after a host of mistakes, the Saints quickly regrouped with the two TDs, the second coming after Chicago's Leon Johnson fumbled a kickoff.

"We came in at halftime down 20-14 and the guys knew we were going to win the game,'' New Orleans coach Jim Haslett said.

The Saints finally took the lead with an 84-yard drive opening the second half. Brooks threw a 24-yard pass to Jerome Pathon and capped the march with a 5-yard pass to Horn.

Paul Edinger's third field goal, a 25-yarder with 8:47 left, gave Chicago a 23-21 lead before Brooks led the Saints on the seven-play, 73-yard drive.

The Bears scored on four straight first-half possessions -- three times after New Orleans turnovers.

Sammy Knight

Saints safety Sammy Knight seals Sunday's victory with a late interception.

Two fumbles recoveries by rookie Bryan Knight led to field goals of 32 and 25 yards by Edinger. Knight's second recovery came after Brooks raised his hand as the ball was snapped before he was ready. It gave the Bears the ball at the New Orleans 13, but they had to settle for a field goal.

"We held them to a field goal a few times, which is what you got to do,'' Knight said.

Miller had a 10-yard scoring pass to White and a 22-yarder to Booker that put the Bears up 17-0.

Finally, New Orleans got moving.

Brooks and Deuce McAllister hooked up on 30-yard pass to start an eight-play, 84-yard drive capped by Brooks' 16-yard toss to Pathon.

On the ensuing kickoff, Johnson, bothered by the sun, fumbled and Jerry Wilson recovered at the Bears 8. Two plays later, a scrambling Brooks hurdled into the end zone for a 7-yard TD, and suddenly the big lead was reduced to 20-14.

Game notes

Chicago's James "Big Cat" Williams, who practiced sparingly all week because of a sore hip, started his 121st straight game at right tackle. ... Brooks finished 22-of-34 for 233 yards and rushed for 28 yards. Miller was 26-of-40 for 236. Booker had another big day with eight catches for 97 yards. ... Saints LB James Allen sprained a knee ligament. Bears DB Bobby Gray dislocated his right wrist and TE Fred Baxter sprained his left ankle. ... Bears RB Anthony Thomas had his first 100-yard rushing day of the season with 111 on 27 carries. ... There were 4,813 no-shows on a gorgeous 68-degree day.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

noTD6:42Aaron Brooks, 7 yd run
Drive info: 2 plays, 8 yds, 0:34
Drive info: 2 plays, 8 yds, 0:34
chiFG12:00Paul Edinger 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 6 yds, 0:42
Drive info: 6 plays, 52 yds, 3:37
Drive info: 6 plays, 52 yds, 3:37
Drive info: 6 plays, 56 yds, 12:16
chiFG7:40Paul Edinger 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 38 yds, 3:57
Drive info: 6 plays, 56 yds, 12:16
Drive info: 7 plays, 73 yds, 0:50
noTD7:40Touchdown(Aaron Brooks run for 2pt conversion)
Drive info: 9 plays, 69 yds, 3:20
Drive info: 9 plays, 69 yds, 3:20
Drive info: 12 plays, 65 yds, 5:37
Drive info: 12 plays, 65 yds, 5:37
chiFG8:47Paul Edinger 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 70 yds, 5:55