The Atlanta Falcons came into what seemed sure to be a shootout and put the brakes on the proceedings. That was due to a better-than-expected defense and an offense that fumbled away some chances, but in the end it ended up being unnervingly close and coming down to the respective performances of these two teams’ offenses regardless. The Falcons who won this game reminded us more of the early season team that was winning and hanging tough than the one we saw over the last month, which blew far too many opportunities, and the result was a victory.
The Falcons couldn’t get anything going early, but a huge kick return by Cordarrelle Patterson and a nice drive that ended in a field goal ensured a tie game at halftime. Both offenses struggled after that, but Chicago let down enough for Marcus Mariota to run one in from ten yards out, and then the Bears punched it in after a long, grinding drive with David Montgomery. That left it tied up with the Falcons rushing downfield to try to take the lead before the game ended, and they did thanks to Younghoe Koo’s leg, leaving the Bears with less than two minutes to tie or win it. Thankfully, Fields threw an interception and Atlanta did indeed win it.
Chicago helped the effort for the Falcons with a load of penalties, a handful of truly lousy drives, and lapses on defense. Atlanta, for their part, turned around after every mistake and made a big play, returning to the early season opportunism that won them games and kept them in it until the very end. In the end, that imbalance between Chicago’s errors and Atlanta’s resilience led to another Falcons win, and one that was badly needed.
Here’s the drive-by-drive recap of what you just watched.
The Bears kicked things off by...well, kicking off. Marcus Mariota had pressure in his face immediately and couldn’t complete one to Kyle Pitts, as it was knocked out of the air. Then Mariota connected with Olamide Zaccheaus to get close to a first down, and a neutral zone infraction gave Atlanta first down. Cordarrelle Patterson picked up three on the next down, and then Mariota found an open Pitts over the middle for a first down and more. Allgeier picked up another first down on a nice run, and then Mariota scrambled for about a yard before finding KhaDarel Hodge for yet another first down on the next play. Patterson got several more on first down, and then Mariota scrambled for the first, fumbling but thankfully not losing it. He capped off the drive by extending a play with his legs and making a nice throw with a hand in his face to get Drake London in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. 7-0 Falcons.
A great kick return by Velus Jones Jr. took the Bears past midfield, and then the Bears got to work on the ground. Montgomery broke about four tackles to almost pick up a first down, and then he did pick up a first down on the next play. A short Montgomery run was followed by a Justin Fields scramble for a first down. A Fields throw that bounced off a leaping Mykal Walker went way into the air and was nearly picked off by Grady Jarrett, who was hit as he tried to reel it in. A short Montgomery run set up a long third down, but Fields found Darnell Mooney wide open in the end zone for a touchdown. 7-7 tie.
Patterson was taken down just shy of the 20 yard line on the return. Mariota tried to run and got taken down for no gain. Fortunately, a quick pass to Patterson nearly got a first down, and Mariota followed it up with a sneak for a first down. Caleb Huntley picked up five yards on first down, and then got another yard or so on a second down catch. On third down, Mariota’s throw was jumped and nearly picked, and it was a punt.
Chicago’s drive was keyed by Justin Fields scrambling, but it fell apart owing to nice tackling, pressure, and Fields missing a wide open Mooney deep. On the punt return, Avery Williams had a nice return but the ball came out, with the ruling on the field being that Williams was down. A challenge revealed that he had fumbled reaching for a first down, and Chicago got it back.
The Bears got a few yards from Mooney and then Fields scrambled for a first down. Grady Jarrett got pressure to force a throw out of bounds on first down, and then there was a loss on second down on a pass that went backwards. The Falcons then came up with a massive third down sack to force a punt.
Atlanta got a first down after a five yard Mariota scramble because of a defensive holding on Chicago. Tyler Allgeier fought like hell for one yard, there was an incomplete pass on second down, and then the drive fizzled out. Punt.
Chicago picked up a few on first down, and then Montgomery picked up an easy first down. Cole Kmet made an amazing one-handed catch while being hit by A.J. Terrell for another first down. A short run and a Fields scramble put the Bears in field goal range, but Troy Andersen came up with a nice stop on a designed Fields run to make it a 41 yard try, at least. Cairo Santos banged it home, 10-7 Bears.
Patterson got past the 20, but just barely. On the next play he had much better luck, avoiding tackles and then picking up a ton of yardage, but fumbling violently and giving Chicago the ball back. Bears ball.
Chicago found success through the air, picking up yardage with quick passes and yards after the catch. Ta’Quon Graham also went down due to injury, and unfortunately left the field on a cart. Justin Fields then scrambled untouched for a touchdown. 17-7 Bears.
Patterson made up for it on the next turn, taking it to the house for an NFL record ninth kickoff touchdown return. 17-14 Bears.
Unfortunately, the Bears weren’t cowed, moving behind Fields’ arm and legs. and getting across midfield in the process. Fortunatley, the Bears did stall out with Fields hitting his lineman in the back of the head with a throw on third down, and Cairo Santos couldn’t hit the long field goal. Falcons ball.
The Falcons had a chance to score before the half, but the drive was hurt by an illegal hands to the face call on Chuma Edoga. On second and 15, Kyle Pitts got about 10 yards and then Mariota stood tall in the face of a blitz to hit Damiere Byrd for a first down. A quick pass to Tyler Allgeier brought them into field goal range, and then Koo just barely hit his field goal try. 17-17 tie game.
Abdullah Anderson kicked things off with a sack of Fields on first down, followed by Mooney for several yards. Justin Fields couldn’t get it done on third down, necessitating a Chicago punt.
Mariota hit Pitts across the middle for a first down on first down, though Pitts was shaken up on the play. Nothing on a first down run and nothing on a second down scramble by Mariota left the Falcons with a third and long. On third down, a quick pass to Patterson was blown up. Punt.
Chicago had a prime opportunity to take the lead, but it was stop-and-start. They did get first downs, but it came in between big hits on Fields and some nice stops by the Falcons, who were playing far better on defense than anticipated. On third down, Arnold Ebiketie hit Fields and then Lorenzo Carter took him down. Punt.
The Falcons picked up a first down with Olamide Zaccheaus running on first down, and then Allgeier got four. Mariota tried to run on the next play and was taken down quickly. On third down, Mariota overthrew it considerably while being hit, but a questionable roughing the passer penalty extended the drive. Patterson picked up four on the first down carry, and then Mariota ran it in for a touchdown. 24-17 Falcons.
The Bears looked like they might fizzle out again, but Fields found Chase Claypool for a first down. Fields kept finding luck on third down, connecting with Cole Kmet for a first down. Then he found David Montgomery down the sideline for a first down. Montgomery had another nice run called back by penalty, but it didn’t matter because Fields was able to use his legs and his savvy to extend plays until the point where he could find an open man. That meant 1st and 10 inside the 20. The Falcons once again admirably got Chicago to third down, but a holding call on Terrell gave Chicago a fresh set of downs. Montgomery punched it in and we had a tie game. 24-24.
Mariota didn’t find an open man on first down and tried to run, but was hit after one yard. On second down, he converted, giving Atlanta a chance to keep things moving. Patterson picked up a first down after a pair of nice runs, and the ground game delivered as Atlanta got across midfield. unfortunately, Despite a stellar second effort from Patterson, the Bears stopped the Falcons and forced fourth down, but Patterson picked it up to keep it moving. A couple of short Allgeier runs—he didn’t really stand a chance—brought us under the two minute warning, and then Mariota couldn’t connect with Zaccheaus downfield after OZ clearly never saw the ball. Younghoe Koo hit a 50-plus yarder to give Atlanta the lead, though. 27-24 Falcons.
The Bears had an odd drive. Fields ran twice and apparently hurt his shoulder, and on third down, he jumped and threw a high ball that Jaylinn Hawkins was able to pick off to effectively seal the game. The Falcons just needed a first down, and Tyler Allgeier picked it up (albeit while going out of bounds) to seal the game for Atlanta. That’s a 27-24 win.