December 16, 2014 / 5:43 AM / 4 years ago

Fast-starting Saints tame Bears 31-15

(Reuters) - The New Orleans Saints climbed into first place in the jumbled NFC South after feasting on the struggling Chicago Bears in a 31-15 win on Monday.

New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson (82) is tackled by Chicago Bears inside linebacker Christian Jones (59) during the second half at Soldier Field. New Orleans won 31-15. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees fired three touchdown passes and the Saints took advantage of the Bears to move atop their division despite their 6-8 record.

“We responded, our defense came out and played fantastic. Offensively, we did enough,” Brees told reporters. “You want to be playing for a lot at the end of the year and we are. We control our destiny.”

The NFC South has faced middling results this season, yet New Orleans, Carolina (5-8-1) and Atlanta (5-9) remain in a tight race for the division crown.

The Saints entered the night having lost four of their last five, but they opened the game with 24 straight points and were never threatened.

Brees finished with 375 yards passing while Josh Hill was on the receiving end of two of his scoring throws.

Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked seven times and threw three interceptions as the Bears (5-9) dropped their third straight game to be out of playoff contention.

“Just trying to get better these next two weeks and give a good performance offensively,” said Cutler, who leads the NFL in turnovers. “I have to take a look at the film and see what slowed us down.”

In the first three quarters, Chicago got across midfield for only two offensive plays on nine possessions, penetrating no deeper than the Saints’ 46-yard line.

It was also another poor performance for the Chicago defense which has allowed the most points in the NFL.

Writing by Jahmal Corner; Editing by Ian Ransom

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