Rapid React from ESPN
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears demolished the Atlanta Falcons 30-12 to remain tied with division-rival Green Bay for the most opening-day victories of all time (52).
In addition, the club picked up its NFL-best 62nd home-opening win and has now triumphed in five of its past six openers at Soldier Field.
Letís take a closer look at what transpired in Sundayís lopsided affair:
What it means: Chicago showcased dominance against a Falcons team considered to be among the NFLís best, and that bodes well considering the team travels to New Orleans next Sunday before facing the Packers at home the following week.
As important as the actual win was, the Bears answered questions along the offensive line, and receiver positions, while the defense proved that despite the unitís overall age, itís still one of the leagueís most dominant groups.
The team suffered two injuries in receiver Roy Williams (groin) and right guard Lance Louis (ankle), but came out of Sundayís game relatively healthy. Besides that, both Williams and Louis have capable backups in Johnny Knox and Chris Spencer who can fill in next week with little-to-no drop off in performance.
Sack parade: The Bears played with just three defensive ends (Julius Peppers, Nick Reed, and Israel Idonije) on the active roster, but that didnít keep the defensive line from racking up five sacks.
Peppers and Henry Melton contributed two sacks apiece, and new acquisition Amobi Okoye contributed another.
The team came into the season with question marks about potential sack producers outside of Peppers, but Melton and Okoye proved capable of providing plenty of pressure from their inside defensive tackle spots.
Itís worth mentioning, however, that the Falcons played without two of their starters along the offensive line. So while Chicago showed promise with the pressure, the front-four players still have plenty left to prove.
Classic Peanut: Bears cornerback Charles ďPeanutĒ Tillman proved his mettle as the teamís turnover artist in the first quarter by punching the ball loose on Michael Turner run in the first quarter. While attempting to tackle Turner, Tillman poked the ball out with Peppers recovering.
The forced fumble marked Tillmanís 25th nine seasons, giving him the most since 2003 among NFL cornerbacks.
Turnover party: The Bears forced three turnovers through the first three quarters, and scored points off two of them, courtesy of linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Urlacher made a diving interception in the first quarter, which the Bears turned into a 56-yard scoring strike from Jay Cutler to running back Matt Forte just three plays later. Then in the third quarter, Urlacher brought one in for a score himself by scooping a fumble forced by Peppers and returning it 12 yards to make the score 30-6.
Quick strike: The Bears scored touchdowns on offense and defense in a span of 57 seconds.
Matt Spaeth caught a 1-yard touchdown with 6:55 left in the third quarter, and three plays later Urlacher scored one for the defense with his 12-yard fumble recovery return when Peppers sacked Ryan for an 11-yard loss.
Interestingly, the Bears were the quickest-scoring team in the NFL last year. The teamís average scoring drives in 2010 were 3 minutes and 2 seconds.
OL still developing: The offensive line gave up three sacks over the first two quarters, but as Cutler anticipated, the unit adjusted in the second half.
Still, Cutler appeared to take too much punishment. Several times Falcons defenders converged on Cutler for crushing shots just as the quarterback delivered the ball. Earlier in the week, Cutler anticipated the offensive line would experience some early struggles before finally settling in, which seems to be what transpired.
Louis delayed the adjustment period by leaving the game in the second quarter with a right ankle injury. Veteran center Chris Spencer stepped in as Louisí replacement. Louisí availability for next weekís game is uncertain, but the club isnít concerned with Spencer assuming the starting role because heís started in 70 of the 83 games heís played.
Injury update: Louis suffered an ankle injury near the end of the first half, and his status for next week wasnít immediately known. Williams sustained a groin injury in the second half, and was held out for the duration.
Whatís next: The Bears face their second consecutive NFC South foe on the road when they take on the New Orleans Saints (0-1).
Chicago -- As opening arguments go, the Chicago Bears sure made a strong one.
All doubters that they're contenders in the NFC should consider Sunday's rout of the Atlanta Falcons.
Brian Urlacher had an interception and returned a fumble for a touchdown, Jay Cutler threw for 312 yards and two scores and the Bears pounded Matt Ryan and the Falcons 30-12.
"Big for us," receiver Roy Williams said. "Big confidence booster for us as a football team. We knew what we can do offensively. We knew what we can do defensively. But to put it together, especially against a good football team in Atlanta, shows what kind of football team we have."
In a matchup between reigning division champions, it was no contest. This one clearly belonged to Chicago.
"Disappointed, not discouraged," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. "It's a long season, it's Week 1. We will work to get this fixed and we will get it fixed."
A lunging Urlacher picked off Ryan's pass to set up an early 56-yard touchdown catch and run by Matt Forte. In the third quarter, the linebacker picked up a fumble by Ryan and scored from 12 yards to make it 30-6.
The fumble came on one of two sacks by Julius Peppers. Henry Melton also had two sacks and the Bears totaled five for the day.
Cutler completed 22 of 32 passes and was intercepted once in his first game at Soldier Field since the Bears' loss to Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. He left that game with a knee injury and was roundly criticized.
He was sacked four times Sunday, but had a 107.8 quarterback rating as the Bears passed a big test.
The schedule doesn't get easier with games against the past two Super Bowl champions coming up -- at New Orleans next week and then Green Bay at home -- but Chicago certainly looked strong in this one.
"It's a good start," Urlacher said. "We've got a ways to go. We made some mistakes, me included. Our offense played great today. I know they're going to say they didn't do this and that, but they kept us on the sideline for the most part."
Forte, seeking a contract extension, turned a short screen into a long TD in the first quarter, and caught five passes in all for 90 yards. He also carried 16 times for 68 yards.
Devin Hester had three catches for 60 yards. He turned a swing pass into a 53-yard gain and got stopped just short of the goal line, setting up a 1-yard TD catch by Matt Spaeth that put the Bears ahead 23-6 midway through the third quarter. Urlacher put away the game with his fumble return.
Williams caught four passes for 55 yards in his Bears debut before leaving with a groin injury in the fourth quarter.
"We still have to play up to the defense's level," Cutler said. "They're still carrying us."
Ryan completed 31 of 47 passes for 319 yards for Atlanta, but he also had those two costly turnovers.
Michael Turner ran for 100 yards, including a 53-yarder, but the 2010 NFC South champions never established any kind of rhythm. It was certainly not the sort of performance they had in mind, coming off a 13-win season that ended with a blowout loss to the Packers in the playoffs.
On the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, there were large 9/11 ribbons at the 25-yard lines. The coin used for the pregame toss had the same ribbon on one side with a Bears "C" on the other.
There was a video narrated by Robert DeNiro, a live simulcast of the trumpeter performing "Taps" in Shanksville, Pa., and a moment of silence. A loud "USA! USA!" chant broke out as a flag stretching from goal line to goal line was unfurled.
Urlacher's lunging interception at the Chicago 29 on a pass intended for Tony Gonzalez and Forte's big touchdown three plays later -- when he caught the screen pass and bounced off Atlanta's Sean Weatherspoon -- were two of the early highlights as the Bears built a 16-3 halftime lead.
Urlacher said he was surprised Ryan threw that pass.
Ryan said he should have just thrown it away, and on the fumble, he just didn't protect the ball.
"Brian made a good play, full extension," he said. "He made a nice catch. I probably shouldn't have thrown it there. I definitely shouldn't have thrown it there. But that's one of those situations where you need to throw the football away. You have to make a good decision and get the ball out of your hands with somebody in your face. Just a poor decision there, and on the fumble, you just got to protect the football better in the pocket, that's as simple as it is."
Williams had little to say about the groin, other than he'll get treatment and "see what happens." ... The Bears also lost starting RG Lance Louis to an ankle injury. ... With Marion Barber sidelined by a calf injury, Kahlil Bell moved into the No. 2 slot at running back and carried 10 times for 24 yards.
I thoroughly enjoyed the beat down we put on the Falcons. No one, and I mean no one, gave us a shot in hell of winning that game, and we went out and won. The score did not indicate just how bad the beat down was. We scored in two phases of the game - offense and defense - and aside from a pick-six that gave Atlanta 12 points, the defense only surrendered six points to one of the most potent offenses in the NFL from a year ago. Great win, and now, I feel more confident about our chances in New Orleans against the awesome Saints passing attack. I think that game will see us totally shut down New Orleans' running game and force them to win the affair on the pass. They are capable of doing just that, but if last season is any indicator, Drew Brees is susceptible to throwing interceptions. It should be interesting. My pick: Bears 24, Saints 14.
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It's week one so I don't want to get ahead of myself, but if the Bears go 3-0, there will be a lot of squirrels on our nuts.
If we go 3-1 they will be also. I think we can beat NO's, we will struggle to beat GB(imo) and we can beat Det, but it will also be a struggle. Both DL's are really tight and our OL will struggle against both. Still if we play like we did yesterday we are capable of beating anyone.
Thanks for posting that ESPN bit.
I was at the game yesterday (admittedly, I never thought we would win that decisively or play that dominantly) and afterwards I couldn't wait to catch some post-game "analyses" in which the "experts" had to eat some crow on national TV. Guess what? I heard/saw virtually NOTHING. The coverage seemed mostly about the Pitt/Indy debacles, Cam's debut, and Rex Grossman beating out Eli Manning in the Battle-of-the-most-overhyped-QBs contest.
There was hardly a peep about the beatdown we put on last year's best team in the NFL by RS W-L record or about how one of football's most powerful offenses didn't even reach the end zone. Ditto with Jay Cutler throwing for over 300 yds, looking healthy and confident, and compiling a 106 QB rating (DESPITE a late tipped pick-6 after the game was long over).
Hmmm...I wonder how much coverage there would have have been if Ryan had thrown 4 TDs and Cutler had left the game hurt with 12 for 29 & 3 INTs?
Last edited by MPBears68; 09-12-2011 at 04:09 PM.
W/all that happened yesterday I don't think it would have mattered. There were a lot of really good games that got no love. Even the embarassment in KC got little to no love.
What i did hear yesterday and today was a lot of respect coming for the Bears. There were reasons to have doubts b about this team though. So I wasn't suprised by the lack of respect before the game. But guarantee if we beat NO and at least play GB tight, then beat Det, there will be a lot of hype and respect for this team.
I find it strange that Ditka picked the falcons and Keyshawn picked the bears.
Without weaponz it's just another airline!
I am here to chew bubble gum and kick butt and I am all out of bubble gum!
lol, we go 3-0 and they will STILL be hating on us. Theyll be like "yeah Bears are undefeated on top of their division, but they won it last year also but the Packers' ballsacks are just more tastier with their coating of fromunda cheese."
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Has the whole "Yeah, the Bears beat (insert team here), but wait until they play (insert team here), that'll be the REAL test!" business started yet?