Saints loss a boost for Bears

December 03, 1991|By Fred Mitchell | Fred Mitchell,Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- It was not a totally lost weekend for the Chicago Bears.

In a sense, Sunday was a day of triumph from the Bears' perspective on the NFC playoff picture.

While the Bears (9-4) licked their wounds after their 16-6 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Detroit Lions, they saw the New Orleans Saints (9-4) drop a 38-24 decision to the San Francisco 49ers.

Because they defeated the Saints earlier this season, the Bears retain their second seed in the NFC playoff race with three regular-season games to go.

If the playoffs were to begin next weekend, the Washington Redskins and Bears would enjoy first-round byes while the Saints would have to play a wild-card team the weekend of Dec. 28-29.

Having lost their last two games, however, the Bears have to be more concerned with their own performance than that of their NFC rivals.

"Right now, I'm just a little bit concerned about our team, and ...

...

TC don't mean in a negative way," said linebacker Mike Singletary. "I just know and realize that we need to get people back healthy. If we can do that, we'll be in good shape.

"We've put ourselves in a tough situation. The team should be going forward right now."

With a 10-day stretch between the loss to the Lions and their next game against the Green Bay Packers (3-10) Sunday at Soldier Field, the Bears hope to mend a lot of bodies and egos.

Fullback Brad Muster, who missed the Detroit game with a hamstring injury, should be able to play against the Packers. Guard Mark Bortz (abdomen) also should be back.

The Lions (9-4) gained a share of the NFC Central lead with the Bears. But the Bears own the tie-breaker against them with a better conference record (5-1 to the Lions' 5-2).

The Bears have gone seven quarters without scoring a touchdown after squandering a lead and then losing to Miami 16-13 in overtime and notching only two Kevin Butler field goals against the Lions.

Against Detroit, the Bears committed six turnovers. Quarterback Jim Harbaugh tossed four interceptions and lost two fumbles.

"I thought the plays were well-designed, and I thought I missed a couple of open guys, for sure," Harbaugh said. "I can't say enough about the way the receivers played. I had a couple of balls overthrown, underthrown. It was not a good game by No. 4."

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