Saints
Bears
14 - 39 Final
  for this game

Bears beat Saints to advance to Super Bowl XLI

Jan 22, 2007 - 6:50 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Rex Grossman's tumultuous season will end with a trip to the Super Bowl. The New Orleans Saints had to settle for their magical season ending at Soldier Field.

Grossman avoided the mistakes that the Saints were unable to as the Chicago Bears advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in 21 years with a 39-14 victory in the NFC championship game.

The top-seeded Bears (15-3) will meet the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI at Miami on February 4.

In his third season, Lovie Smith became the first black coach to reach a Super Bowl.

"A lot of great coaches have come before me and they gave me an opportunity," Smith said. "I hope I can be as inspirational to others."

Chicago last made the Super Bowl in January 1986 under coach Mike Ditka. That team featured a dominant defense led by Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton and a flaky quarterback in Jim McMahon.

"I am really into the great tradition we have with the Chicago Bears," Smith said. "I am just trying to get our football team up to that same standard Mike had his team at, especially that '85 team."

These Bears also are known for a fierce defense led by Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and a quarterback in Grossman who has been criticized for his careless play.

"We knew that the experts were saying it all week long, so it's exciting for us," Urlacher said. "It doesn't matter what anyone says. We knew what we had to do to win and we went out and did it. Our offense ran the ball, we stopped the ball, our special teams covered kicks like they did all year long, and it was a great team win for our franchise."

Grossman was able to do enough in the biggest game of his four-year career. He recovered from an abysmal first half to complete 11-of-26 passes for 144 yards without a turnover. His 33-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian 37 seconds into the fourth quarter gave the Bears a 25-14 lead.

"I mean, it doesn't get any better than this right now," Grossman said. "I'm excited about the position we're in right now. Redemption and all that, I mean, that's for you guys to write about. I'm excited about this team. The guys in that locker room, Coach Smith, everyone's hard work is starting to pay off, and we've got one more win before we can call ourselves world champions."

In the first half that ended with the Bears holding a 16-7 lead, Grossman went just 3-of-12 for 37 yards.

The Bears also received more than enough big plays from their defense to frustrate the second-seeded Saints (11-7), who were playing in the NFC championship game for the first time in their 40-year history. Chicago, which led the league with 44 takeaways during the regular season, forced four turnovers and recorded a safety.

"It's too easy to say, `we turned it over, but otherwise,'" Saints first-year coach Sean Payton said. "Obviously, mistakes are mistakes you don't want to make. Turnovers are things that end up being the difference in a game like this, and sometimes those turnovers are forced. You gotta credit Chicago."

Thomas Jones rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns for the Bears, who built a 16-0 second-quarter lead, then endured some tense moments in the third quarter before taking back control of the game.

Cedric Benson also rushed for a touchdown for the Bears, who piled up 196 of their 340 yards on the ground.

"We felt like we would come in and run the football," Jones said. "We saw some things in the defense from previous games."

The Saints had reached the championship game under Payton just one season after they were supplanted from their home due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Dynamic rookie Reggie Bush had an 88-yard touchdown reception - the longest TD in the history of the NFC championship game - 2:40 into the third quarter to pull the Saints within 16-14.

After Billy Cundiff was short on a 47-yard field goal on the Saints' ensuing possession which would have given them the lead, the Bears controlled things the rest of the way.

"There's a point in the game where I felt the momentum shifted a little bit in our favor that third quarter, but we couldn't capitalize on it," Payton said.

When Benson scored on a 12-yard run with 11:37 remaining for a 32-14 lead, the Bears were dancing through the snowflakes on their way to South Beach, where they will play in the second Super Bowl in their illustrious history.

Drew Brees threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns for the Saints. However, he lost a a fumble and threw an interception - both in the fourth quarter.

"I don't think we can blame it on the weather," Brees said. "I think that (the Bears) led the league in getting turnovers during the regular season. We made an emphasis of it the entire about tucking the ball away and not letting them yank it away, and sure enough it happened to us four times today."

The Bears shut down the Saints' running game, holding them to 56 yards on 12 carries. Deuce McAllister, who rushed for 143 yards in the divisional round against Philadelphia, gained just 18 on six attempts.

Bush carried four times for 19 yards. He finished with seven catches for 132 yards.

Brees and Bush brought a hush over the hostile crowd less than three minutes into third quarter. Bush ran by Chris Harris down the left sideline, made a nifty cut past Danieal Manning to the middle, then outraced Urlacher to the end zone. Bush pointed at Urlacher at about the 15, then did a somersault into the end zone.

"I'm sure he would rather win the game than taunt somebody," Urlacher said.

"I just got caught up in the emotion of the game," Bush said. "I was excited. It was a big play. I let my emotions get the best of me. I told coach (Payton) that I apologize for that. Obviously, I was wrong for doing that. I allowed my emotions to get the best of me in an exciting game. I was just happy to make a big play for my team at a crucial moment."

After the Bears went three-and-out, the Saints drove to the Chicago 29. Payton called on Cundiff rather than normal kicker John Carney, a move that failed to pay off when Cundiff's kick landed short.

The Bears again failed to pick up a first down on their ensuing possession. However, Brad Maynard's punt pinned New Orleans at its own 5.

"The field position was challenging, especially in the second half," Payton said. "Brad Maynard did a real good job punting the ball and pinning us back."

Two plays later, Brees came under pressure in his own end zone. He was called for intentional grounding after tossing a pass into the right flat, allowing the Bears to grab an 18-14 lead with 5:27 left in the third quarter.

"It was a big play," Urlacher said. "(It was) right after they got the touchdown and [then] Brad pinned them down there. We got pressure on the first play and he got rid of it in time and then the second play, any time we have a chance to score on defense it's big, and then I think we got the ball back, so that was big.

Late in the third quarter, Grossman found his rhythm and directed his best drive of the game, a five-play, 85-yard march.

"Yeah, that was my best drive of the game," Grossman said. "All game I had been making good decisions, and I just missed a few throws. I normally don't do that. I'm a little frustrated by the fact that I missed the throw, but I was making good decisions, seeing the field well. I knew eventually the throws would come, and that's what happened."

Taking advantage of cornerback Fred Thomas, Grossman completed all four of his passes for 78 yards. He connected with Berrian - covered by Thomas- for 13 and 12 yards to go along with a 20-yard completion to Muhsin Muhammed.

Grossman went at Thomas one final time, finding Berrian for a 33-yard touchdown down the left sideline with 14:23 remaining in the fourth quarter. Berrian caught the ball at the 1 and rolled into the end zone.

Berrian finished with five receptions for 85 yards.

On the Saints' ensuing possession, Brees was sacked and had the ball jarred loose by defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who fell on the fumble at the New Orleans 26. The play stood after a review.

Five plays later, Benson rumbled up the middle for a 12-yard TD and a 32-14 advantage with 11:37 left. He rushed for 60 yards on 24 carries.

Brees committed his next miscue on the Saints' ensuing possession when he was intercepted by cornerback Nathan Vasher, who had recovered a fumble in the first quarter to set up a field goal.

Jones provided the final margin with a 15-yard touchdown run with 4:19 remaining.

Like Grossman, Jones also enjoyed a signature drive, accounting for all 69 yards on eight straight runs in the second quarter. He capped the march with a two-yard TD with 1:56 left in the half for a 16-0 lead.

Brees found rookie Marques Colston for a 13-yard TD with 46 seconds left in the half to pull the Saints within 16-7.

Robbie Gould had accounted for the Bears' first nine points with field goals of 19, 43 and 24 yards. The first two were set up by fumbles from Colston and Michael Lewis.

"We knew coming in it was a defense that thrives off the turnovers and giving their offense a short field," said Colston, who had all five of his catches for 63 yards in the first half. "We turned the ball over in those kind of situations and set up their offense up in great field position."

Lewis' fumble came on a kickoff after Gould had connected on a 19-yard field goal to open the scoring.








  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NEW ORLEANS 0 7 7 0 14
    CHICAGO 3 13 2 21 39 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: CHI - FG, ROBBIE GOULD 19 YD, 14:19. Drive:
    11 plays, 34 yards in 4:44. Key
    plays: Vasher 14-yard fumble return
    to New Orleans 36; Davis 16-yard
    run on 3rd

    Jan 21 6:18 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    TD CHI
    THOMAS JONES RECOVERED BLOCKED PUNT IN END ZONE
    (ROBBIE GOULD KICK)
    NEW ORLEANS 14
    CHICAGO 39 4:19 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 6:05 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL PLAYOFFS
    NEW ORLEANS 14
    CHICAGO 32 11:33 LEFT, 4TH QTR
    NOR BALL ON NOR 26 YD LINE
    1ST AND 10

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 5:48 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL PLAYOFFS
    NEW ORLEANS 14
    CHICAGO 25 14:19 LEFT, 4TH QTR
    NOR BALL ON NOR 28 YD LINE
    1ST AND 10

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 5:35 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NEW ORLEANS 0 7 7 14
    CHICAGO 3 13 2 18 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: CHI - FG, ROBBIE GOULD 19 YD, 14:19. Drive:
    11 plays, 34 yards in 4:44. Key
    plays: Vasher 14-yard fumble return
    to New Orleans 36; Davis 16-yard
    run

    Jan 21 5:30 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    SAFETY CHI
    PENALTY ON DREW BREES IN END ZONE
    NEW ORLEANS 14
    CHICAGO 18 5:27 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 5:21 PM


  • CORRECTION
    NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    TD NOR
    REGGIE BUSH 88 YD PASS FROM DREW BREES
    (JOHN CARNEY KICK)
    NEW ORLEANS 14
    CHICAGO 16 12:20 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 4:58 PM


  • CORRECTION
    NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    TD NOR
    REGGIE BUSH 88 YD PASS FROM DREW BREES
    (JOHN CARNEY KICK)
    NEW ORLEANS 14
    CHICAGO 13 0:46 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 4:58 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    TD NOR
    REGGIE BUSH 88 YD PASS FROM DREW BREES
    (JOHN CARNEY KICK)
    NEW ORLEANS 14
    CHICAGO 16 12:20 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 4:56 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    TD NOR
    MARQUES COLSTON 13 YD PASS FROM DREW BREES
    (JOHN CARNEY KICK)
    NEW ORLEANS 7
    CHICAGO 16 0:46 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 4:31 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    TD CHI
    THOMAS JONES 2 YD RUN
    (ROBBIE GOULD KICK)
    NEW ORLEANS 0
    CHICAGO 16 1:56 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 4:22 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    FG CHI
    ROBBIE GOULD 24 YD
    NEW ORLEANS 0
    CHICAGO 9 8:52 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 4:04 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    FG CHI
    ROBBIE GOULD 43 YD
    NEW ORLEANS 0
    CHICAGO 6 13:40 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 3:51 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NEW ORLEANS 0 0
    CHICAGO 3 3 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: CHI - FG, ROBBIE GOULD 19 YD, 14:19. Drive:
    11 plays, 34 yards in 4:44. Key
    plays: Vasher 14-yard fumble return
    to New Orleans 36; Davis 16-yard
    run

    Jan 21 3:47 PM


  • NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
    NFL PLAYOFFS
    NEW ORLEANS 0
    CHICAGO 3 0:33 LEFT, 1ST QTR
    CHI BALL ON NOR 30 YD LINE
    1ST AND 10

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 3:46 PM
  • 10
    roots
    JohnnyFirstTime Added 10 roots

    Saints vs. BearsJan 21 2:04 PM