NEW ORLEANS – Mitch Trubisky thought he had floated a 25-yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller and taken a sizable chunk out of the New Orleans Saints' 11-point lead.
Instead, the Chicago Bears were hit with a double whammy they could not overcome — a serious knee injury to a team leader and a replay reversal that took away costly points in what ended up as a 20-12 loss Sunday.
Miller dislocated his left knee when he landed in the end zone. The gruesome injury, which was replayed several times on the scoreboard, forced the 33-year-old tight end to be carted off and taken to a hospital.
After a replay review, officials ruled the ball hit the ground when Miller bobbled it on his way down.
"He made a heck of a catch. It was a great effort on his part," said Trubisky, whose team then settled for a field goal. "The call was what it was, but it was an awesome play on his part."
The kick made it 14-6 with 5 minutes, 42 seconds left in the third quarter. The Bears spent the rest of the game trying to get past the disturbing injury.
Miller suffered the latest in a long line of tough injuries. After making a career-high 47 catches in 2016, he missed the final six games because of a fractured foot. He did not play in any game from 2012 through 2014, primarily because of foot and shoulder issues.
"It's a tremendous loss," running back Tarik Cohen said. "He always gets us fired up and knows exactly what to say. We have to find ways to keep moving forward."
And then on top of the injury came the reversal. Referee Carl Cheffers told a pool reporter that Miller did not complete the process of a catch, and that he temporarily lost control of the ball, which hit the ground.
The Bears begged to differ. "I definitely was very surprised," running back Jordan Howard said. "I thought he had control the whole time."
Chicago kept it close against the Saints (5-2), who got 299 passing yards from Drew Brees in winning their fifth in a row after an 0-2 start. After Trubisky scrambled for 46 yards, fellow rookie Cohen scored the Bears' lone TD with 3:58 left, cutting the deficit to 17-12.
Trubisky threw incomplete on fourth-and-1 after Chicago (3-5) got the ball back on a fumble — the second of two turnovers the Bears forced from running back Mark Ingram in the fourth quarter — and he tossed an interception from the New Orleans 48 after the Saints kicked a field goal.
"Our whole team competed very hard," Bears coach John Fox said.