We’ll be blunt: This wasn’t the effort we expected from these Atlanta Falcons, not against an opponent that looked manageable on paper. I think we saw that the Bears are better than many, including myself, were giving them credit for. I think we also saw a Falcons team that has some work to do at right guard and some rust to knock off, at the very least, before they’re going to look like an elite team again.
That said, there were encouraging things here, and the Falcons ultimately won thanks to their defense, which stopped the Bears inside the 10 yard line thanks to three straight incomplete passes and a Brooks Reed sack, his second of the game. It wasn’t pretty, but I will always take the win.
The Falcons got a huge kick return that was largely erased by a penalty, a Kemal Ishmael block in the back, which has been the all-too-common thread of special teams play thus far in 2017. Fortunately, the offense fared much better, with Ryan going 5/5 on the drive. The Falcons got a short third down and couldn’t quite convert, however, as the ground game scuffled a little bit on the drive. Matt Bryant hit a 48 yarder, though, and the Falcons were on the board.
8:01: Falcons 3, Bears 0
The Bears got the ball and swiftly went three and out, with some absolutely brutal hits by the Falcons marking the drive. De’Vondre Campbell killed a man, at least in spirit, and the ball went back to Atlanta.
The Falcons also swiftly went three and out. You’re sensing a pattern here, I take it?
When the Bears got the ball back, unfortunately, they fared much better. Deion Jones brilliantly snuffed out a short passing play for a loss, but the Bears also got across midfield and Mike Glennon had a couple of nice throws along the way. Fortunately, the Falcons got their stuff together and were able to put the brakes on the drive, culminating in a third down sack of Glennon by Vic Beasley.
Thus ended the first quarter.
The second quarter ended with the Falcons juuuuust missing on a Matt Ryan pass to Mohamed Sanu that would’ve been a long gain, at minimum, thanks to a Chicago batdown. They had to punt...again.
Chicago couldn’t get much done on their next drive, though, as Brooks Reed drove Mike Glennon to the ground for a huge loss, and the Bears couldn’t make up much ground. They had to punt.
Finally, the Falcons got moving on the next drive, starting things off with an 18 yard reception by the immortal Julio Jones. An 18 yard reception by Taylor Gabriel, an inspiring Matt Ryan scramble, a 25 yard pickup from Julio and a five yard touchdown run by Devonta Freeman later, they had their second lead of the day. Nice little drive.
4:34: Falcons 10, Bears 3 (forgot the Bears field goal earlier, but yes, they got one)
The Bears did their damndest to answer. Tarik Cohen’s 46 yard pickup showed why he’s such an electric, scary young back, and it put the Bears in field goal range in the blink of an eye. The Bears continued to pound it at a lackluster Falcons run defense and were rewarded with a touchdown on a Jordan Howard run where Desmond Trufant appeared to be blocked by Mike Glennon.
:17: Falcons 10, Bears 10
The Falcons simply kneeled to end the half. The concern flowed like wine on social media, but we were not done yet.
The Bears deferred following the coin flip and got the ball first in the second half. They immediately got back to running the ball. This has us thinking Dontari Poe should eat something. Brian Poole brought the pain on a 3rd and 8, flattening Mike Glennon and forcing a fumble.
The next offensive drive for the Falcons started with a zero gain run by Devonta Freeman. Things didn’t get better from there, as Ryan was sacked on third down again by Akiem Hicks, forcing a punt.
The Bears took over with excellent field position at the 50 yard line. Mike Glennon threw a pass at an invisible offensive player on third down and the Bears were forced to punt. At this point we’re just trying to figure out which team will make a move, desperately hoping it’s the Falcons while staring down our half empty bottles of Mad Dog 50-50.
The Falcons began their next drive at their own 14 yard line. Once again the Bears defense nearly stifled the Falcons offense, but a personal foul (roughing the passer) gave Matt Ryan a second chance. Tevin Coleman caught a 20 yard pass which put the Falcons at the Chicago 25 yard line. Mohamed Sanu threaded the needle and put the Falcons in the red zone for just the second time all day. Andy Levitre promptly got flagged for holding, backing the Falcons up ten yards. Steve Sarkisian couldn’t play call the Falcons into the end zone, so they settled for a field goal, and Matt Bryant promptly kicked the ball into the parking lot.
2:15: Falcons 13, Bears 10
The Falcons nearly forced a punt on the Bears’ next drive, but Deion Jones momentarily forgot he’s not Randy Savage and tried to suplex a ball carrier. This led to a penalty and a Bears first down.
Fifteen minutes of football remaining and the Falcons still lead 13-10. The Bears have excellent field position and it’s 1st and 10. A holding penalty makes it 1st and 20 and the Bears are eventually forced to punt. Robert Alford was flagged on the return, the third Falcons special teams penalty of the day.
The Falcons started their drive on the Bears’ five yard line with 12:54 to play. The Falcons were backed up on 3rd and 3. Ryan dropped back, his pocket fell apart, he was nearly sacked, but somehow he miraculously connected with Austin Hooper who was just meandering downfield. Hooper’s touchdown was 95 yards and involved a nifty truck stick, giving the Falcons a 20-10 lead.
11:55 Falcons 20, Bears 10
The Bears took over and Mike Glennon fought through tears to stay in the game. The Falcons gave up a big Dion Sims reception and the Bears found themselves in Falcons territory. Mike Glennon promptly aired it out deep but De’Vondre Campbell and Keanu Neal played well in coverage, forcing the incompletion. Robert Alford drew a holding penalty, giving the Bears an automatic first down. Glennon made it count and eventually put 7 on the board.
7:26 Falcons 20, Bears 17
The Falcons started off their drive with a near pick six. They followed that up with a Derrick Coleman incompletion, making it 3rd and 10. Luckily Austin Hooper asked for the ball, promptly running over a hapless Bears defender and taking it 25 yards downfield. The Falcons eventually found themselves in another 3rd and 10, and they didn’t convert, settling instead for a field goal.
3:24 Falcons 23, Bears 17
The Falcons handed Mike Glennon a chance to play hero and lead his team to victory. Damontae Kazee forced a fumble on the return but the Bears recovered. The Bears got away with an illegal shift during the first play of the game. Brian Poole executed a solid open field tackle on second down, forcing a 3rd and 5, which the Bears promptly converted. The Falcons would eventually force a fourth down attempt after a spectacular breakup by Robert Alford, however, the Bears would convert once again. To be frank, the Falcons looked completely unable to stop the Bears. With 21 seconds to play, the Bears found themselves on the 6 yard line. Josh Bellamy dropped what would’ve been a touchdown catch. Robert Alford then leveled a ball carrier, preventing a touchdown. With 8 seconds to play, the Falcons took their second time out. At this point, it’s 4th and 5. Brooks Reed came up with the game-winning sack.
God bless Brooks Reed.