Big Cat starts in 121st straight

SportsFootballChicago BearsAaron BrooksJim MillerFred BaxterLeon Johnson

James "Big Cat" Williams ran his streak of consecutive starts to 121 when he opened at right tackle Sunday against New Orleans.

Williams' status was in doubt up until game time after he injured his left hip against Atlanta last week and then missed practices.

The Bears have been hurt by early-season injuries, but they made it through Sunday's game in better shape than they did in the first two games.

Rookie safety Bobby Gray dislocated his right wrist and will be evaluated further this week. Tight end Fred Baxter left the locker room on crutches with a sprained ankle and will be checked further on Monday.

Good day for Knight

Rookie linebacker Bryan Knight, who said he recovered one fumble in his college career at Pitt, has recovered three fumbles in three games, all with game-altering impact.

The 2002 fifth-round draft choice who won a job at end in the Bears' pass-rush package recovered a Deuce McAllister fumble in the first quarter to set up Paul Edinger's field goal.

Knight later fell on a snap by Saints center Jerry Fontenot that went past quarterback Aaron Brooks while Brooks was still adjusting players. It was the kind of loose ball that defensive linemen dream of picking up and taking in for a score, but that was not on Knight's mind.

"I'm just waiting to see if I could have picked it up and run with it when I watch film," Knight said. "I was just thinking of falling on it at that point."

The Bears converted that turnover into another Edinger field goal. Knight's fumble recovery after a sack by Rosevelt Colvin preserved the victory over the Vikings in the season opener.

The Shoop scoop

Offensive coordinator John Shoop said the Bears did not consciously try to be more conservative in their play-calling in the second half.

"Whenever you're up 20-0, a lot of teams would say, 'Hey, let's shorten the game if we can,'" Shoop said. "I never got the sign from Dick [Jauron] to start trying to shorten the game. We called the entire game in the mold that we're trying to score every drive. We weren't just trying to take time off the clock."

1 play not difference

The Bears insisted Leon Johnson's fumbled kickoff wasn't the turning point in Sunday's loss.

"It doesn't turn anything around," center Olin Kreutz said. "We take the ball and put seven [points] on the board again, it doesn't even matter. It's not one play; it's a lot of plays."

"Every play affects the game," left tackle Bernard Robertson said. "It's not like it was something we couldn't overcome. We just didn't put any more touchdowns on the board after that."

Quick hits

Quarterback Jim Miller completed 26-of-40 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. But the key number was the 40: The Bears are 10-32 in the last 20 years when they throw at least 40 passes in a game.

The 20-point lead lost to the Saints was the largest squandered by the Bears since 1992. The Bears led the Minnesota Vikings 20-0 when Jim Harbaugh threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Mike Ditka blew up, the Bears lost and Ditka ultimately lost his job.

Tight end John Davis has caught six passes this season, four Sunday. All but one picked up first downs.

Colvin recorded his team-leading fourth sack. It was the sixth straight game he has sacked the quarterback.

Fred Mitchell contributed to this report.

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