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Saints' Drew Brees hits Michael Thomas, who scores his first touchdown of the season

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

NEW ORLEANS - Michael Thomas' first touchdown catch of the season was worth the wait. Thomas caught an 11-yard TD pass from Drew Brees to give the New Orleans Saints a 7-0 lead over the Chicago Bears with 5:09 remaining in the first quarter of their wild-card matchup Sunday.

Thomas played in seven games this season because of a nagging ankle injury that he suffered in Week 1. He returned from injured reserve this week after the Saints (12-4) decided to rest him over the final three games of the regular season to try and get him as close to 100% as possible for the playoffs.

It didn't take long for Thomas to make an impact. He caught a 5-yard pass on the Saints' first play from scrimmage and caught a 13-yard pass to convert a third-and-5 two plays later.

Those were Thomas' first two catches from Brees since Week 10, since Brees himself was sidelined from Weeks 11-14 with a punctured lung and 11 broken ribs. The Saints' dynamic duo played just 10 total quarters together all season.

Thomas, who was named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year last season after setting a league record with 149 catches, had just 40 receptions for 438 yards with no touchdowns in seven games this season. However, he did have three games with at least eight catches and two games with more than 100 receiving yards while Taysom Hill was at quarterback from Weeks 11-14.

Saints running back Alvin Kamara has also made an early impact after returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list just in time for Sunday's game. Kamara had four carries for 21 yards during the Saints' first two possessions.