Bears Clip Falcons Wings, Win 27-13
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Oct 13, 2014 3:45PM
Will the real Chicago Bears please stand up? After consecutive losses where the team looked lost on both offense and defense, both phases of the game contributed for four quarters to the Bears' 27-13 victory against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Jay Cutler: The Bears got "Good Jay" on Sunday, and man was he good! His 381 passing yards were his most in a game since joining the Bears. He gained those yards while completing 26 of 38 passes and was finally able to go deep a number of times. Most important, he did not turn the ball over. While Cutler threw one touchdown pass—a three-yarder to Josh Morgan in the second quarter—long completions to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery set up touchdowns.
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery: Both injured in week one, the Bears top wideouts hadn't been playing like they did in 2013 when they were the best tandem in football. Until Sunday. Finally close to healthy, the Bears duo each had over 100 receiving yards, with Marshall gaining 113 on six catches, and Jeffrey gaining 136 on five. For the offense to live up to its pre-season hype, these two need to perform. And now that they're healthy, the results looked promising.
Matt Forte: Slow to get on track early this season, Forte had another strong game. The Bears' running back rushed for 80 yards on 17 carries (4.7 average) and scored two rushing touchdowns, from six yards and nine yards out. Forte also remained a favorite check-down target for Jay Cutler, catching a team-high 10 passes for 77 yards. Forte currently leads the NFL with 46 catches on the year.
The Defense: Atlanta entered Sunday's game the third best scoring offense in the NFL, putting up more than 30 points a game. The Bears entered the game with a patchwork defense obliterated by injuries, including their top four linebackers out, and a couple defensive lineman still recovering. The Bears still managed to hold Atlanta to just 13 points. Matt Ryan completed just 51 percent of his passes and was picked off once by Demontre Hurst. While Atlanta gained 271 yards through the air, they managed just 42 on the ground. And when the Bears needed to close out the game, the defensive line stepped up and sacked Ryan a number of times to help ensure victory. Willie Young recorded two sacks, giving him seven on the year, while Jared Allen and Stephen Paea each recorded one. Rookie Kyle Fuller continued his excellent season with five tackles, a pass defended, and a forced fumble.
Extra Points: Atlanta blocked Robbie Gould's extra point kick in the third quarter, marking just the third time he's missed one in ten seasons. Bears regained the point by going for the two-point conversion on their next TD, with Cutler connecting with Martellus Bennett.
Injuries: While the offense is mostly healthy again, the defense remains decimated. The Bears top four linebackers were all inactive due to injuries—Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Shea McClellin, and Jon Bostic. That could have spelled disaster for the Bears, but the trio of Khaseem Greene, Darryl Sharpton and Christian Jones stepped up big time for Chicago. The Falcons entered the game averaging more than 30 points a game, yet the Bears limited them to just 13.
With the win in Atlanta, the Bears improved to 3-3 on the season and showed marked improvement on both sides of the ball. While playing against the weak Atlanta defense, the offense showed signs of life now that their receivers are healthy and two of their injured linemen are back on the field. The defensive line played like we'd hoped they would all season and the back-ups at linebacker did an admirable job filling in despite pulling from the lowest rungs of the depth chart. The Bears team we saw this Sunday looked like a playoff team. But which team will appear at Soldier Field next week when the Bears welcome Miami to town? The Bears, now 3-1 on the road, are winless at home.