AP: Saints - Bears Preview Article
Sep. 18, 2002 6:55 p.m.
GAME: New Orleans Saints (2-0) at Chicago Bears (2-0).
TIME: Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT.
The Chicago Bears are making a habit of pulling out dramatic victories.
The Bears hope their good fortune continues as they play host to the surprising New Orleans Saints in a matchup of unbeaten teams.
Chicago has not been winning pretty, but it's winning nonetheless.
The Bears have came out on top in the final minute two weeks in a row, including Sunday's 14-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Chicago was led by linebacker Brian Urlacher, who recovered a fumble by Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, sacked the speedy quarterback twice and finished with a game-high 12 tackles.
Atlanta's Jay Feely missed a potential game-winning 45-yard field goal with 56 seconds remaining, giving Chicago its first 2-0 start since 1991.
"We had a little luck on our side," Bears offensive lineman James Williams admitted. "But a win's a win."
A week earlier, the Bears rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter, beating Minnesota 27-23 on Jim Miller's touchdown pass to David Terrell with just 28 seconds to play.
Miller and Terrell have now hooked up for touchdowns in successive games.
Miller, who is 15-7 as a starter, has been effective with 440 yards passing and three touchdowns in his first two games.
The Saints are one of the NFL's early surprises, winning their first two games despite several offseason personnel changes.
New Orleans parted with left tackle William Roaf, defensive line stalwarts Joe Johnson and La'Roi Glover, and running back Ricky Williams.
Second-year back Deuce McAllister has emerged from Williams' shadow to lead the Saints offense. The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder has 232 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 52 carries.
McAllister ran the ball 21 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-20 win over the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. A holding penalty nullified another 50-yard touchdown run.
McAllister could have some additional room to run on Sunday with Bears defensive tackle Ted Washington out of action.
Washington, who hasn't missed a game since 1994, will be out 10 to 11 weeks with a broken bone and ligament injury in his left ankle. The 350-pound Washington will be replaced by Alfonso Boone.
Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks will be making his first career start against Chicago. Brooks has thrown for 477 yards and four touchdowns thus far this year.
He had 217 yards passing and two touchdowns against the Packers last weekend.
New Orleans' defense collected three fumbles and an interception against Green Bay.
"We're a blue-collar defense," New Orleans linebacker Charlie Clemons said. "Don't let on we're finesse. When it's time to get down and dirty, we can do it with the best of them."
New Orleans held Green Bay to just 95 rushing yards, and stopped the Packers on 7 of 9 third-down attempts.
"We're trying to establish ourselves as one of the most physical teams in the NFL," Saints defensive tackle Norman Hand said. "And we're doing that right now."
STANDINGS: Saints - T-1st place, NFC South. Bears - 1st place, NFC North.
SAINTS LEADERS: Offense - Brooks, 477 passing yards, 4 passing TDs; McAllister, 232 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs; Joe Horn, 14 receptions, 228 receiving yards; Donte' Stallworth, 2 receiving TDs. Defense - Clemons, Ken Irvin, Sammy Knight, 11 tackles; Willie Whitehead, 2 sacks; James Allen, Darrin Smith, 1 interception.
BEARS LEADERS: Offense - Miller, 440 passing yards, 3 passing TDs; Anthony Thomas, 129 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs; Marty Booker, 13 receptions, 246 receiving yards; Terrell, 2 receiving TDs. Defense - Urlacher, 19 tackles; Rosevelt Colvin, 3 sacks; Reggie Austin, Mike Brown, 1 interception.
SAINTS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 132 yards/game (10th in NFL); Passing Offense - 230.5 ypg (16th); Total Offense - 362.5 ypg (11th). Rushing Defense - 83.5 ypg (10th); Passing Defense - 261.5 ypg (28th); Total Defense - 345 ypg (20th).
BEARS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 93 ypg (19th); Passing Offense - 212 ypg (18th); Total Offense - 305 ypg (22nd). Rushing Defense - 131 ypg (23rd); Passing Defense - 181.5 ypg (10th); Total Defense - 312.5 ypg (12th).
LAST MEETING: Oct. 8, 2000. At Soldier Field, Jeff Blake threw three touchdown passes to lead New Orleans to a 31-10 win over Chicago.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Saints - WR Horn ranks third in the NFL with 228 receiving yards. Horn caught two TD passes in the last meeting with Chicago. ... Rookie WR Stallworth, 21, caught his first career TD last Sunday. He was the 13th overall selection, and first wide receiver taken in April's draft. Bears - SS Brown had his first career interception against New Orleans during his rookie year of 2000. He returned it 35 yards for a TD. ... WR Terrell has caught a touchdown pass in four straight games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Saints - 1-0 on the road; Bears - 1-0 at home.
INJURIES: Saints - OUT: CB Keyuo Craver (knee); RB Fred McAfee (hamstring). DOUBTFUL: CB Fred Thomas (hand). QUESTIONABLE: DE Darren Howard (shoulder). Bears - OUT: DE Phillip Daniels (ankle); CB R.W. McQuarters (knee); WR Ahmad Merritt (hand); DT Washington (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: T James Williams (hip). PROBABLE: G Rex Tucker (ill).
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