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Falcons 23, Bears 17: Brooks Reed saves the day as Falcons move to 1-0

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This game against professional giraffe Mike Glennon was way, way, way, way closer than any of us wanted. Falcons are now undefeated.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

We are back with football and it was both awesome and terrible. Same old Falcons flashing greatness.

First Half

Andre Roberts showed early why the Falcons signed him, but an explosive return was brought back by a penalty. The starting offense moved just like last year, with a wide distribution to players and a heavy run game. The stout Bears front seven started to become a problem, with the first drive ending in a field goal, with the next two ending in three and outs.

Things really got moving when put in Matt Ryan’s hands. He orchestrated a touchdown drive with a speedy run up the middle and a great distribution with the football. The offensive line looked a little weak, but the Falcons got it going enough that it did not even matter. Devonta Freeman scored the team’s first touchdown by outrunning a corner back to the edge of the end zone.

The defense was hit or miss. Vic Beasley pulled in the first sack of the year, Keanu Neal had a monster hit on a running back, and Deion Jones was typically making plays. Then the defense gave up big plays to some speedier Bears players.

Tarik Cohen was almost unstoppable. Jordan Howard tied up the game at the half with a wildcat play (wut).

This was not a great start. This looks like a Falcons team with some issues. Leaky on defense and leaky on the offensive line, but some killer talent on offense.

Second Half

De’Vondre Campbell looks like a better fit at strongside linebacker and pressured Mike Glennon early. The Falcons gave Brian Poole a chance to blitz, and he took down Glennon. The defense looked better and may have settled down a bit.

The offense came back and looked a little lost. Poor execution and blocking resulted in another third and out. It seemed a little weird. While last season they were happy to target their tight ends, the Falcons rarely targeted anyone outside of their top three wide receivers and two running backs.

At the end of the third, the offense again fell apart in the red zone. Falcons jump to 13-10. The Bears broke into some pretty conservative football, and seemed happy to try to keep it close, run down the clock, and play the field position game. That was a dumb plan. On the next drive, Ryan avoided pressure and tossed a beautiful deep ball to Austin Hooper. Ryan took a hard hit from three players at once, but Hooper caught it and took a long run to the end zone.

Falcons up 20-10 and put the Bears in a tough spot. Glennon got rolling and it looked like a game was breaking out. Keanu Neal slipped while covering Dion Sims, giving up a huuuuge play. Glennon went for a deep touchdown pass that was expertly defended by Campbell.

Cohen made another appearance, and the tiny back overpowered Desmond Trufant on a rushing touchdown. That guy is really, really good.

The passing game is still tough to defend. Ryan looks on point and was able to move the football, but again, it did not come together in the red zone. The Falcons are in the unenviable position of handing the Bears the football with almost 3:30 left with only a six point lead.

It felt like the last half of the Super Bowl. Glennon was completing passes left and right. Felt like the defense was happy to play a soft zone and give up the underneath. The Bears burned up a bunch of time, but thanks to a Robert Alford tip, are forced into a 4th and 3rd. Glennon converts across the middle and Falcons fans are getting worried.

The Bears get a full series in the red zone, but Glennon just can’t connect. Fourth and goal for Glennon, who tries to go on the move... right into Brooks Reed. The defense holds and the Falcons win.

The results

Early season football is usually pretty uneven. Too many players were out with injuries, and the whole team rarely played together during the shorter training camps. With new coaches, a new defensive line, and half the starting offense missing serious time, we should have expected a bit more of this inconsistent play.

The team stayed healthy, and played clean enough football. If we remember the Carolina Panthers, they followed up their awful Super Bowl with perhaps an even worse game against the Denver Broncos that left Cam Newton beaten up. The Falcons don’t seem to have that same hangover.

The Falcons were competitive, remained healthy, but definitely have some work left to do. Either way, can’t be made about a win on the road.