Three takeaways from the Bears’ playoff loss

Inside linebacker Manti Te’o had appeared in three games since New Year’s Eve 2018

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Wild Card Round - Chicago Bears v New Orleans Saints

Bears linebacker Manti Te’o chases Saints tight end Jared Cook on Sunday.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Three takeaways from the Bears’ 21-9 loss to the Saints:

Surprise!

The Bears promoted former Notre Dame star Manti Te’o off their practice squad Saturday, presumably as depth after ruling Roquan Smith out with a left elbow injury. Sunday, though, he was a surprise starter.

How surprising? Te’o had appeared in three games since New Year’s Eve 2018 before Sunday. He had the benefit of familiarity, though, having spent the past three seasons with the Saints. Te’o stood out on the Bears’ first defensive series and finished with six tackles.

Reviews are in

Two potential turnovers went to review in the first half. Each team benefited once.

Bears cornerback Duke Shelley’s interception on the first play of the second quarter was overturned when officials ruled the tip of the ball hit the ground as he cradled it. About 10 minutes later, Mitch Trubisky threw a pass to David Montgomery that fell to the ground and was recovered by safety Malcolm Jenkins, who returned it for a touchdown. Officials called the play an incomplete pass, though, and upheld the call despite the Saints’ challenge.

Last catch?

Jimmy Graham was practically invisible; the tight end’s only two catches came on the last two plays. But the final play was memorable, if meaningless: a 19-yard one-handed touchdown as the clock expired. Graham then ran directly up the tunnel at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where he starred from 2010-14. It’s fair to wonder whether that was the final catch of Graham’s career; he has one year left on his contract but the Bears can cut him at no cost. 

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