Brees completed 28 of 39 passes for 265 yards, connecting with Michael Thomas and Latavius Murray for touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints beat the Chicago Bears 21-9 in an NFC wild card game on Sunday. .
Alvin Kamara ran for 99 yards and added a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter after being out of the regular season finals and not training last week due to COVID-19 protocols.
The victory for the Saints (13-4) and Brees, who turns 42 on Friday, sets up a divisional meeting next weekend in the Superdome with Tampa Bay and 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady.
The Bears (8-9) put on a defensive defensive performance that kept the Saints from building more of a touchdown lead until Murray’s 6-yard score dropped to 14-3 at the end of the third quarter.
The score was the result of a big mistake by the Bears: Safety Eddie Jackson, lined up for an apparent blitz, jumped offside fourth and third on the Bears’ 13-yard line.
Two plays later, Brees was jostling to his right when he spotted Murray waving for the ball. Brees did it with a short, tactile pass over linebacker Khalil Mack, and Murray sprinted straight to the goal line, diving through converging tackles to reach the end zone.
Brees’ first touchdown pass came in the first quarter on an 11-yard pass through Thomas’s cross, returning from a three-game absence to help heal a nagging ankle injury. Thomas, the 2019 offensive player of the year, has missed nine games this season and hadn’t caught a touchdown pass since Dec. 22, 2019 in Tennessee.
The Bears’ Tashaun Gipson scored the first points for Chicago and could have prevented a Saints scoreline on the same play. He got his hands on the ball as Taysom Hill tried to throw in deep with a wide receiver entering the clearance. The ball floated forward a few yards and defensive lineman John Jenkins caught it, establishing Cairo Santos’ 36-yard basket to take it to 7-3.
But the Chicago offense struggled most of the game against a defense that placed fourth in the NFL. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed 19 of 29 passes for 199 yards and a trivial TD pass to tight end Jimmy Graham at the end of the time limit. The Bears were held to 48 rushing yards.
Bears starting receiver Anthony Miller was sent off for pushing Saints defensive back CJ Gardner-Johnson after a failed third drop early in the second half. Gardner-Johnson was also charged with unsportsmanlike conduct but was not sent off. It was the second time this season that a Bears player has been sent off for an action taken against Gardner-Johnson after the whistle. In a regular season game, Bears wide receiver Javon Wims was sent off and suspended two games for hitting Gardner-Johnson.
Bears: Reserve safety DeAndre Houston-Carson was being assessed for a concussion during the second quarter. … Defensive back Sherrick McManus left with a hamstring injury in the first half.
Saints: Cornerback Patrick Robinson and running back Latavius Murray were each checked for thigh injuries in the second half.
Bears: Enter the offseason with uncertainty surrounding the future of general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy. The Bears have reached the playoffs twice since Pace took over in 2015, both times under Nagy, who was hired in 2018. Chicago has lost its first playoff game twice.
Saints: Host Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoff division round, the third meeting this season between rivals NFC South and their 40-plus-year-old star QBs. The Saints have won every regular season game in double digits.