CHICAGO, JAN. 6 -- If you boil a football game down to running and defense, the Chicago Bears will take their chances with anybody, particularly on frozen Soldier Field.

Chicago's 189 rushing yards, Kevin Butler's three field goals, an ornery Bears defense and a timely offsides penalty were the critical ingredients in Chicago's 16-6 first-round NFC playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints today.

Running back Neil Anderson rushed 27 times for 102 yards and fullback Brad Muster carried 12 times for 71 yards against the sixth-best rushing defense in the league. The Bears defense held the Saints to 65 yards on 18 carries, and 11 pass completions in 34 attempts. Craig "Ironhead" Heyward carried just four times for 10 yards.

Offense was not the order of the day. Bears quarterback Mike Tomczak had a stretch of eight straight incompletions and completed 12 of 25 passes for 166 yards. Saints quarterback Steve Walsh, who suffered a separated shoulder just before halftime, and replacement John Fourcade spent most of the afternoon running from Richard Dent, Trace Amstrong, William Perry and Dan Hampton.

The game produced only one touchdown, Tomczak's 18-yard pass to tight end Jim Thornton two minutes into the second quarter, staking Chicago (12-5) to a 10-0 lead.

When someone suggested to defensive tackle Hampton that this might have been an ugly victory, he replied, "Hell, we're an ugly team. What else would you expect?"

It looked like vintage Bears games, from Red Grange to Bronko Nagurski to Gale Sayers to Walter Payton. Run the ball, control the clock, pressure the quarterback. In the absence of a 20th century passing game, it will have to do for these Bears.

The victory sends the Redskins to Candlestick Park for a Saturday game with the two-time defending champion San Francisco 49ers, and the Bears to East Rutherford, N.J., for a Sunday date with the Giants.

The Saints, the third NFC wild-card team under the expanded playoff format, thought they could rearrange that postseason picture when they blocked a field goal and returned it to the end zone, apparently bringing them within an extra point kick of tying the game, 10-10, six minutes into the third quarter.

Rookie end Renaldo Turnbull got his hand on Kevin Butler's 45-yard attempt, and Vince Buck ran it 61 yards for the score. But the officials called Robert Massey for being offsides, and television replay indicated at least two Saints lined up in the neutral zone.

Saints Coach Jim Mora called the penalty "a little picky," and said he was standing even with the line of scrimmage and didn't notice any of his players being over the line. "In a situation like that, if it's not a clear thing then you don't {call} it. . . . I saw the flag right away and it surprised the heck out of me."

Instead of being tied, the Bears took possession at the 23 and continued a 16-play, 60-yard, eight-minute drive. Butler kicked a 22-yard field goal with 6:29 left in the third to increase the Bears' lead to 13-3.

Morten Andersen kicked a 38-yard field goal with 5:52 to play, cutting the lead to 13-6. That's when Tomczak, booed during a five-for-23 passing performance last Saturday against Kansas City, came through on a crucial play. On third and 11, with the offense struggling, he caught the Saints in a blitz and hit Dennis Gentry for a 38-yard gain. Coach Mike Ditka called it "the biggest play of the game."

Tomczak, who last week criticized the Soldier Field boo-birds, said, "That was last week. They were fantastic today. Maybe I'll invite them all to my restaurant." Tomczak said he felt better after receiving a phone call from Terry Bradshaw Saturday night. "It's good to get positive feedback from somebody who had some bad times then went on to Super Bowls," he said.

"Being booed the way he was," Anderson said, "I was ecstatic for him to come back with the kind of game he did today."

After the Gentry pass, the Bears went on to get a third Butler field goal, this one from 21 yards with 3:47 to play, to ice the game. "That was the pass of the day," New Orleans linebacker Rickey Jackson said of the Tomczak-to-Gentry flip. "Tomczak caught us in some blitzes, people out of position. Everything he got today, we gave it to them."

The big problem for the Saints was that the Bears defense wasn't giving up anything other than field goals. Andersen had one blocked (by Armstrong) and was hurried into missing another. Chicago cornerback John Mangum intercepted Walsh on the third play of the game, and two more Bears interceptions followed.

Even on the Saints' most important drive of the day, the one that produced their second field goal, the Bears were carnivorous. On fourth and 10 from the 34, too close to punt and too far to kick a field goal, Fourcade threw what looked to be an incomplete pass, but rookie safety Mark Carrier -- the league-leader in interceptions -- was called for pass interference.

Three plays later, Carrier hit another receiver too early and the penalty put the Saints at the Bears 2. But on first and goal, instead of sending 260-pound Heyward into the middle, New Orleans ran Dalton Hilliard wide. The Bears ran him out of bounds for a three-yard loss.

On second down, an unsuspecting Heyward had a touchdown pass bounce off his hands. On third down, Armstrong chased down Fourcade for a sack, forcing the field goal instead of a touchdown.

New Orleans' inability to run the ball in critical situations was its biggest problem. Chicago's ability to move it on the ground was its biggest strength. The Bears' 189 rushing yards was their most in postseason in 51 years.

Bears guard Tom Thayer said it was a dream game for a Bears lineman, blocking straight ahead play after play. "A defense can't get themselves set to stop Neal because then, 'Here's Brad,' " Thayer said. "And vice versa. You better respect both ends of our one-two punch."

Anderson tied a club record (held by Payton) by carrying 27 times in a playoff game. His cracked ribs ached and he lost the feeling in his arm after banging his elbow on the ice, but the Bears kept calling his number.

"If you think back to how we got here," Ditka said, "you've got to understand we got to get the ball in Neal's hands. I had a little dream last night that I gave it to him 40 times. He's a great football player and we have to give him a lot of credit. The same with Brad Muster."