Long Distance Connection

After a week when Muhsin Muhammad's reaction to some previous overthrown passes, and quarterback Kyle Orton's inability to hit him down the field were closely scrutinized, the Bears' veteran receiver had his best day in terms of yards per catch.

Muhsin Muhammad had three catches for 85 yards, averaging 28.3 yards a catch. He had catches of 33, 30 and 22 yards. Prior to Sunday, he hadn't made a catch longer than 28 yards. The 22-yarder on a fade route set up the winning field goal.

Afterward, Muhammad was aglow about his young quarterback.

"When you're a young quarterback, you're not going to make every play," Muhammad said. "The thing I like about Kyle is even though he doesn't make every play and he may throw some interceptions, that's part of the growing process. But he's going to stand in there and deliver the next ball like he never knew what happened on the last play.

"So you've got to have some nerves of steel and he came back and he completed some big passes in the game, some big plays."

Making Amends
Robbie Gould's first Bears game-winning field goal let him forget about the 47-yard miss earlier.

"It's like a dream come true," he said. "It was like an extra point. It feels good to go out there and let the guys know, 'hey listen, I've got your back.' "

The Other Linebacker
Head coach Lovie Smith said one game ball would go to strong side linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, who had a sack of 11 yards with the Saints at the Bears' 45 with 3:11 left in the third quarter.

The play helped force a punt.

Hillenmeyer also had his first career interception on a pass intended for tight end Lamont Hall.

"Hunter Hillenmeyer had his best football game," Smith said. "A really great job for him."

Welcome Back
Wide receiver Justin Gage hadn't scored a touchdown since his rookie season of 2003, but caught a 4-yard slant from Orton for the Bears' first score in the second quarter.

It was Gage's first start since rookie Mark Bradley went out with a season-ending knee injury. Gage led the Bears in catches with four, for 28 yards.

"Gage played a great game," Muhammad said. "He had his first touchdown (of the year) today. I've always had confidence in Gage. Justin will mature. He'll get better as the weeks go along."

Nowhere to Run
Defensive end Alex Brown came to the Bears out of Florida with questions existing about his ability to stop the run.

He thinks he answered those long ago, but if any remained he may have answered those with a key play Sunday.

On third-and-one at the Saints' 21, Aaron Stecker tried to run just outside left tackle and Brown broke into the backfield to slow him up just enough so linebacker Lance Briggs could make the tackle for a loss. It forced a punt and set the Bears up for the winning drive.

"I never thought I was questionable against the run, but a lot of people did," Brown said. "You make plays when they come to you. You've got 10 other guys expecting you to make a play so you've got to do it."

Setback
Bears rookie wide receiver Airese Currie was not elevated to the regular roster due to a hamstring pull suffered in practice Thursday. The Bears have two more weeks to decide whether to activate him from the reserve/non-football injury to the regular roster or put him on injured reserve.

Inactives
Tackle Qasim Mitchell, cornerback Rashied Davis, defensive back Daven Holly, safety Brandon McGowan and quarterback Kurt Kittner were the Bears' uninjured inactives Sunday. The injured inactives were: wide receiver Bernard Berrian (thumb), guard Ruben Brown (pectoral muscle) and quarterback Rex Grossman (ankle).


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