NEW ORLEANS – The Bears scored one fourth-quarter touchdown Sunday in New Orleans but were unable to complete their comeback in an eventual 20-12 loss to the Saints.
Despite the outcome, rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky saw some positive signs.
“We were in it the whole game and we still had a chance at the end,” Trubisky said. “The defense continues to play tremendously and keep us in these games. We’re getting closer as an offense. We just need to become more consistent.”
Trubisky completed 14 of 32 passes for 164 yards with one interception and a 46.9 passer rating. The first-round draft pick also had a 46-yard scramble that set up Tarik Cohen’s 1-yard touchdown plunge, which drew the Bears to within 17-12 with 3:58 left in the game.
“I thought we communicated great in a hostile environment,” Trubisky said. “We are getting close. Nobody has their head down, nobody is pouting. We just continue to lean on each other and know we have each other’s back. We’re going to keep working, keep getting better and get back to winning football.”
Injuries up front: Right guard Kyle Long (hand) and center Cody Whitehair (elbow) both exited Sunday’s game with injuries. Tom Compton filled in for Long, while right guard Josh Sitton moved to center when Whitehair got hurt with Bradley Sowell stepping in at right guard.
“It’s tough,” Whitehair said of the changes. “The guys who came in did a really nice job. They handled the noise well. We had an opportunity to win.”
Long could have returned, but the Bears chose to insert a healthy Compton.
“I think [Long] was capable of going back in,” said coach John Fox, “but we decided to put a healthy guy in there instead, which I would do again.”
Stepping out: After the Saints extended their lead to 20-12 on Wil Lutz’s 49-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining in the game, Tarik Cohen never hesitated in bringing the ensuing kickoff out from four yards deep in the end zone.
Cohen returned the kickoff 46 yards and drew a 15-yard penalty on Lutz for a horse-collar tackle, enabling the Bears to start their final drive at the New Orleans 43.
“I just knew I was going to have to bring it out,” Cohen said. “Try to make a play just to try to put some momentum on our back and just finish through the last stretch of the game.”
Stepping up: Receiver Tre McBride III had a breakout game, catching three passes for 92 yards from Trubisky. McBride’s receptions of 45 and 22 yards set up field goals and he also had a 25-yard catch that preceded a missed field-goal attempt.
“The goal is always to go out there and get open and make the big plays for Trubisky and the offense,” said McBride, who entered Sunday’s game with one catch for 18 yards this season.
Takeaway time: The Bears defense put the offense in position to win the game late by generating takeaways on back-to-back fourth-quarter possessions.
First, Jonathan Bullard stripped Mark Ingram and Christian Jones recovered at the Bears’ 28 with 7:32 remaining. Later, Adrian Amos ripped the ball away from Ingram and returned the fumble four yards to the Chicago 30 with 2:12 to play.
“We said we had to make a play for our brothers,” said outside linebacker Pernell McPhee. “We just went out there and made a play for our offense and try to give them the ball back, so we can put them in position to score a touchdown and tie it up.”
Roster news: Receiver Dontrelle Inman, who practiced only once during the week leading up to the game after being acquired in a trade with the Chargers, was not active.
Receiver Markus Wheaton (groin), cornerback Sherrick McManis (hamstring), linebacker John Timu (ankle/knee) center/guard Hroniss Grasu (hand) and defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris (hamstring) did not play due to injuries. Quarterback Mark Sanchez was also inactive.
Sack attack: Defensive end Akiem Hicks recorded his seventh sack of the season, tying his career high set last year. Hicks now has at least one sack in four straight games.
Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd also registered a sack, increasing his season total to five. All five have come in the last five games after he was blanked in the first three contests.