NEW ORLEANS — Mitch Trubisky knew what to do on the end cut route to his new favorite target, Tre McBride: Throw high enough to clear the Saints’ linebackers.
The Bears faced first-and-15 from the Saints’ 48, only eight points down with 1:28 to play — thanks to Mark Ingram’s two fumbles in the fourth quarter — when Trubisky dropped back and threw. His pass sailed too high and landed in rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore’s arms to seal the Saints’ 20-12 victory Sunday.
“We had what we wanted,” said Trubisky, who was 14-for-32 for 164 yards and a 46.9 passer rating. “It was a good call. I missed a little bit. I’ve made that throw hundreds of times.”
There was some more bad news: Trubisky also will have one fewer target to throw to. Tight end Zach Miller’s gruesome knee dislocation, suffered while catching a touchdown pass that was overturned by replay, robs the rookie of yet another playmaker. Trubisky lost his two starting receivers before the end of the first regular-season game.
McBride’s 92 receiving yards were the most by a Bear this season. Amazingly, it was more than triple McBride’s career total.
After the bye, Trubisky will inherit Dontrelle Inman, whom the Bears acquired Wednesday, and, eventually, a healthy Markus Wheaton. Like McBride, the two couldn’t develop preseason chemistry with Trubisky; Inman was a Charger, and Wheaton was hurt.
“I didn’t have the luxury of being able to go through training camp and preseason with him,” McBride said. “So I’m playing catch-up. But we’re working on it. We need to work more on it.”
The Bears gifted the Saints their first touchdown. On fourth-and-five on the game’s first possession, cornerback Kyle Fuller lined up offside on Will Lutz’s field goal. The Saints accepted the penalty, and Alvin Kamara scored on the next play on an eight-yard run.
McBride’s 45-yard catch on a crossing pattern set up the Bears’ first score. Despite having first-and-goal at the Saints’ 6, they had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Connor Barth early in the second quarter. Barth shanked his second try, a 48-yarder, after Trubisky took a sack, with 22 seconds left in the half.
Lutz’s field goal two minutes into the fourth quarter put the Saints up 17-6. They were salting the game away when Jonathan Bullard forced the first of Ingram’s two fumbles with 7:32 to play.
Three plays later, Trubisky scrambled for 46 yards to the Saints’ 26. Safety Kenny Vaccaro said he was “looking like Bo Jackson in the middle of the field.”
After Trubisky converted two more third downs — a 10-yard pass to Kendall Wright and a seven-yarder to Dion Sims — Tarik Cohen ran for a one-yard touchdown, putting the Bears down five.
Safety Adrian Amos forced Ingram’s second fumble with 2:12 to play, but the Bears turned the ball over on downs — Trubisky threw incomplete on third-and-one and fourth-and-one. After another field goal by Lutz, Cohen returned the kickoff 46 yards, and Lutz’s horse-collar tackle earned the Bears another 15 yards.
Two plays later, though, Trubisky sailed his throw.
“We are getting close,” Trubisky said. “Nobody has their head down. Nobody is pouting.”
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