NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Taysom Hill's production near the goal line put him in Hall-of-Fame company, and defensive back Paulson Adebo had what he considered the game of his life.
The New Orleans Saints needed every bit of that to outlast the struggling Chicago Bears and remain atop the NFC South.
Hill caught a touchdown pass and threw for another, Adebo intercepted two passes and also forced a fumble that he recovered, and the Saints beat the Bears 24-17 on Sunday.
The dynamic Hill’s receiving TD made him the first NFL player since New York Giants Hall of Famer Frank Gifford (who retired after the 1964 season) to score 10 or more times each as a passer (11), runner (26) and receiver (10).
“That’s pretty impressive, right?" Saints coach Dennis Allen said. "Half the guys in our locker room would have no idea who Frank Gifford is.”
Hill, a 33-year-old former BYU quarterback, said he did know of Gifford, primarily because he'd been told about him by Saints stats keepers.
“I look at back at my career and I certainly didn’t think it would have gone the way it has," Hill said. "But as I hear and think about stuff like that, it’s overwhelming. I have a lot of gratitude to be able to be part of this program and play with coaches who are creative enough to give me opportunities.”
The Saints (5-4) forced five turnovers, intercepting rookie QB Tyson Bagent three times and recovering two fumbles. Those plays tipped the balance of a game in which the undrafted Bagent and the Bears (2-7) often had the Saints' defense off balance, outgaining New Orleans 368-301 in total yards and possessing the ball for just more than half the game.
The final turnover — a fumble caused by Demario Davis' sack and recovered by fellow linebacker Pete Werner — all but sealed it with 2:05 left. New Orleans needed only one first down — and got it — to run out the clock.
Bagent passed for two touchdowns to tight end Cole Kmet. He finished with 220 yards passing and 70 yards rushing to keep Chicago within one score the whole way despite the Bears being minus-5 in turnovers.
“There wasn’t a lot good that I saw defensively," Allen said, "but the takeaways were outstanding, and that’s the difference in the game.”
The Saints had a chance to take a 10-point lead on rookie kicker Blake Grupe's 47-yard field goal attempt with 2:30 left, but the ball hit the left upright.
That gave the Bears a chance to drive for a late, tying touchdown — until Davis' pivotal sack and strip.
“It really just comes all down to myself in that last quarter being able to do a better job taking care of the ball," Bagent said. "We talk about it every day, and it was basically just me. Good on their part and bad on my part.”
Hill hit tight end Juwan Johnson in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
The Saints didn't take their first lead until DJ Moore's fumble — caused and recovered by Adebo — moments after what would have been a first-down catch to the Chicago 40 in the third quarter. That set up Grupe's 55-yard field goal to put New Orleans up 17-14.
Chicago drove 13 plays to the Saints' 13-yard line before settling for Cairo Santos' field goal to tie it at 17.
Seeking their first victory in the Superdome since 1991, the Bears started fast. Bagent found Kmet for an 18-yard TD to cap a nine-play, 75-yard opening drive. But Adebo's first interception near midfield set up a tying TD on Carr's 8-yard pass to Olave.
Bagent's second TD pass to Kmet, from 9 yards out, briefly put the Bears back in front before Carr drove New Orleans right back down the field for a 2-yard scoring pass to Hill for the utility player's fourth TD in his past three games.
Santos, who kicked for Tulane when the Green Wave played home games in the Superdome, hit the upright from 40 yards out in the final minute of the half. His first miss this season kept the score tied at halftime.
Adebo, a third-year pro who now leads the club with four interceptions, sounded disinclined to bask in a performance that he said was “probably my best.”
“There’s plays that I made mistakes on and whatnot that maybe haven’t been highlighted,” he said. “It's just trying to be as objective as possible, trying to look at the film, see what I could have done better, see what I did do well.”
Bears FB Khari Blasingame left the game to be checked for a concussion.
Bears: Host Carolina on Thursday night.
Saints: Visit Minnesota on Sunday.
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