Soldier Field was as quiet as a school library during spring break late in the first quarter Sunday when Cordarrelle Patterson provided a much-needed jolt of energy.
After Teddy Bridgewater's 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Josh Hill had given the Saints a 9-0 lead, Patterson returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a TD.
It was Patterson's seventh kickoff return TD in seven NFL seasons with the Vikings (2013-16), Raiders (2017), Patriots (2018) and Bears (2019), which ranks third in NFL history behind Joshua Cribbs and Leon Washington, both of whom had eight.
Players with six include Bears Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, Mel Gray, Dante Hall, Ollie Matson and Travis Williams. Former Bears star Devin Hester had five kickoff return touchdowns and 14 punt return TDs.
Patterson became the first Bears player to return a kickoff for a touchdown since Chris Williams had a 101-yarder Nov. 9, 2014 against the Packers in Green Bay. Prior to Sunday, the last kickoff return TD at Soldier Field was by none other than Patterson, who had a 95-yarder for the Patriots against the Bears last season.
Patterson ranks second in the NFL in kickoff return average this season (34.2) and is second all-time with a 30.3 average behind Sayers (30.6).
Welcome back: Returning to action after missing the previous three games, defensive end Bilal Nichols made his presence known early.
The second-year pro teamed with Danny Trevathan to stop Latavius Murray for no gain on third-and-one on the Saints' first possession, forcing New Orleans to punt. Nichols finished the game with four tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one quarterback hit.
An aberration: Sunday's 11-point loss to the Saints was the most lopsided defeat in Matt Nagy's two seasons as coach. The Bears' previous seven losses under Nagy came by 1, 3, 7, 3, 1, 7 and 3 points.
The Bears trailed 36-10 Sunday before scoring two touchdowns in the final 2:31.
"This is a tough one," Nagy said. "It stings. We haven't really been in this situation before, being down that much at a point in the game."
Smart move: Punter Pat O'Donnell made a heads-up play early in the game when he prevented the Saints from scoring a touchdown by batting a blocked punt out of the back of the end zone. New Orleans was credited with a safety, taking a 2-0 lead.
"I was just thinking, 'bat it through the back," O'Donnell said. "We'll take a safety over six points. It was just one of those plays where you've just got to make the best of it."
Defense falters: Abdullah Anderson recorded his first career sack Sunday, but it was the only one the Bears produced in the game. The defense did not generate a takeaway for the first time since a season-opening loss to the Packers.
In addition, the Bears permitted a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver; Latavius Murray ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, while Michael Thomas caught nine passes for 131 yards.
News and notes: Allen Robinson II tied a career high with 10 receptions for 87 yards and one touchdown … Javon Wims scored his first career TD, catching a 6-yard pass from Trubisky with :48 to play … Eddy Piñeiro made a 46-yard field goal and three extra points without a miss. He has now converted 9-of-10 field goals and 11-of-11 extra points this season.