Had you predicted the Bears would route the Falcons 30-12 prior to the game, most would have called you crazy. The Bears opened up at Soldier Field against the defending #1 seed in the NFC. Bringing home a lop-sided victory over a formidable opponent by a score of 30-12 has many Bear fans excited. Even FOX panned to the sidelines to catch a smiling Jay Cutler, how's that for body language?
The media is taking the "The Falcons lost more so, than the Bears won" angle which is a huge cop-out. Chicago came to play and Matt Ryan and company did not. Julius Peppers gave them no choice.
Chicago capitalized when Atlanta came out flat and brought it to them for 48 minutes. Looking at the stat sheet the defense gave up over 100 yards on the ground to Michael "The Burner" Turner. Turner had 10 carries for 100 yards and despite the success, the Atlanta coaches decided to sling the ball with Matt Ryan 47 times. Luckily that didn't impact the scoreboard as much as you would think. Turner and the Falcons couldn't get any sort of rhythm going offensively.
Bear fans knew the tide was turning in their favor when Brian Urlacher intercepted a Matt Ryan pass intended for Tony Gonzalez. The outstretched arms of a diving Urlacher snagged an interception that would result in Matt Ryan's first incompletion of the game. After going 7 for 7 on his first 7 passes, this moment was when the Bears defense took over. Urlacher gave us all a reminder why he's still one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
The story of the game was the Bears defense playing Chicago Bears style football. Monsters of the Midway have returned in full force and are led by a smiling Julius Peppers. Peppers was a constant nuisance for the Falcons offense. Despite the Bears registering 5 sacks on Matt Ryan (Peppers: 2, Melton: 2, Okoye: 1), nearly every pass Matt Ryan threw, he had to pick himself off the ground from the pressure. One of the sacks in the 3rd quarter by Peppers led to a fumble, in which Brian Urlacher would recover and return for a touchdown.
Even the secondary played very well. Charles Tillman punched a ball out of Michael Turner's hands, which Peppers would recover. Many Bear fans thought the weakness in the defense was Tim Jennings and that Julio Jones would have a field day. He did not and Jennings played solid ball tallying 8 catches, helping in run support.
The offense led by a slimmer, quicker Jay Cutler looked stellar. Cutler was 22/32 for 312 yards for 2 TD's and 1 INT. The INT came on a fluke-tip play at the line of scrimmage. Outside of that play, I can honestly say Jay Cutler played an A+ game of football. He threw into coverage early on twice but learned not to test Brent Grimes of the Falcons. Matt Forte rattled off a 56 yard screen pass early on for a touchdown to get the Bears offense going. He added 68 yards on 16 carries on the ground.
The WR's looked solid as well, Devin Hester had a 53 yard screen pass in which he received several down field blocks and took it all the way down to the 1 yard line. The Bears would cap the drive with a 1 yard TD pass to new TE Matt Spaeth. Roy Williams and Johnny Knox each had 3 catches for 60 yards and came up big time on 3rd down finding the openings in the defense and settling down.
Offensive line play was great, the Bears gave up 5 sacks. This is a deceiving number though because 2 of them can be directly credited to Jay Cutler. So realistically the Bears gave up 3 sacks, 2 of which came on bull rushes by John Abraham on J'Marcus Webb. Cutler could have released the ball a little quicker but overall the line play was solid.
The Bears play next week against the Saints, and will face former team captain Olin Kreutz.