NEW ORLEANS, La. -- The Bears outplayed the New Orleans Saints in almost every conceivable way Sunday at the Caesars Superdome except the two areas that matter most: turnovers and penalties.
The Bears turned the ball over three times and racked up seven penalties to give the game to a Saints team that was thoroughly unimpressive for most of the 60-minute affair.
Final score: Saints 24, Bears 17
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Undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent played well for long stretches of his third career start. He finished the game 18-for-30 for 220 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions while also adding 70 yards on the ground.
But the three interceptions were killer as the Saints turned five Bears turnovers into 10 points, which was the difference in the loss.
The Bears have struggled with turnovers and penalties all season. They aren't talented enough to overcome losing the turnover battle by five and having six more penalties than their opposition.
The Bears aren't the first to have a messy day in New Orleans, but their inability to play clean, fundamental football cost them Sunday.
Here's what we learned from the Bears' 24-17 loss to the Saints.
Ideal road start
After falling behind early against the Chargers last Sunday, the Bears had to start fast and play from in front to have a chance in New Orleans.
Bagent and the Bears authored the best start they could have imagined Sunday in New Orleans.
The Bears won the toss and elected to take the ball. Bagent opened the game with back-to-back strikes to Darnell Mooney and DJ Moore before capping the nine-play, 75-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cole Kmet. Kmet probably made the best catch of his career to secure the score.
The Bears' defense forced a punt on the Saints' ensuing possession, setting up an opportunity for Bagent to give Chicago a two-score lead.
Bagent moved the Bears to their own 41-yard line but made a critical error on second-and-15.
Bagent dropped back and had plenty of time to throw. The Saints covered the play well, and Bagent tried to come all the way back to Kmet, but Paulson Adebo picked off his throw.
The Saints cashed in on Bagent's mistake as Derek Carr hit Chris Olave for an 8-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven.
Back and forth we go
The Bears and Saints traded blows for the remainder of the first half.
Bagent gave the Bears a 14-7 lead with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Kmet, but the Saints answered with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Carr finding Taysom Hill for a 2-yard scoring strike.
The Bears looked like they would throw the final blow of the first half. Bagent marched them down to the Saints' 22-yard line, but New Orleans bowed up third-and-13 and forced the Bears to attempt a 40-yard field goal. The normally reliable Cairo Santos doinked it off the upright, and the teams went into the half tied at 14.
The Bears added to their pass rush at the deadline when they acquired Montez Sweat. They signed Sweat to a long-term extension Saturday, and Sweat made his Bears debut Sunday.
He played select snaps, but whether on the field or off, the Bears' pass rush made little impact in New Orleans.
In the first half, the Bears had one quarterback hurry and just two tackles for loss, which allowed the Saints to go six-for-seven on third down.
The Bears finished the game with zero sacks and only two hurries.
It has been a tough year for Darnell Mooney, but the Bears' fourth-year receiver finally popped Sunday in New Orleans.
The Tulane product caught four passes on four targets for 70 yards in the first half, which included a 38-yard catch and run that saw Mooney force multiple missed tackles.
It was the best Mooney has looked this season and was a welcome sight for a Bears' passing attack that has been uneven at best this season.
Mooney finished the game with five catches on six targets for 82 yards.
The Bears forced a three-and-out to start the second half and had a chance to drive to take the lead early in the third quarter.
On second-and-four from their own 29, Bagent stepped up and threw a strike to Moore. The receiver secured the catch for a gain of 11, but Adebo punched it out and pounced on the loose ball, giving the Saints the ball inside the Bears' territory.
The Saints didn't do much with the possession but took the lead on a 55-yard field goal.
The Bears lost the turnover battle five to zero, and the Saints scored 10 points off those turnovers. The Bears also had eight penalties for 71 yards, while the Saints had just one penalty.
The Bears and Saints entered the fourth quarter tied at 17, but New Orleans quickly edged in front.
The Saints forced the Bears to punt to open the quarter and then drove 47 yards in five plays, with Hill hitting a wide-open Juwan Johnson for a 3-yard touchdown to give them a 24-17 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Saints safety Marcus Maye picked off a pass intended for Mooney.
The Bears' defense forced a turnover on downs to give the ball back to Bagent, but the undrafted rookie was intercepted by Adebo with 5:08 left.
Bagent got one more chance to lead a game-tying drive, but he was sacked and stripped by Demario Davis with just over two minutes to play. The Saints recovered the fumble in what was a fitting end to a sloppy day in New Orleans for the Bears.