First Quarter: **It was tough from the very beginning for the Falcons in the first quarter in Chicago. A penalty on the kickoff meant Atlanta had to re-do the opening kick, but the Falcons limited Bears' return man Devin Hester's damage. The Falcons were able to limit the Bears' run attack in a big way, but Jay Cutler and the receiving corps. kept the ball moving. A long first drive culminated in a field goal. The Falcons' offense responded with a good rhythm and quarterback Matt Ryan spreading the ball around but could only muster a 48-yard field goal from kicker Matt Bryant, his 17th consecutive made field goal. Ryan's first incomplete pass after connecting on his first five resulted in an interception from the Bears. John Abraham's sack in the first quarter and Sean Weatherspoon being all over the field kept the Falcons in it, but they couldn't do it alone. A breakdown in coverage allowed Matt Forte to slip through the coverage on a screen for a 56-yard touchdown. On the next possession Michael Turner brought Atlanta's turnover number to two with a fumble, recovered by Chicago just before the close of the quarter.
Second Quarter:Abraham continued his impressive day, adding another sack and a tackle in the backfield. At times the defensive end appeared to be the only defensive player making plays. However, the entire Falcons run defense was holding up, limiting the Bears to 22 yards in the first half. The Falcons were able to limit the Bears' damage by keeping them out of the endzone in the second quarter. Chicago turned their possessions into field goals, taking a 16-3 lead into the half. Though the Falcons limited the Bears run game, the pass defense struggled, giving up 222 yards and one touchdown to Cutler.
Third Quarter:The third quarter started promising, highlighted by a 53-yard scamper by Turner, but the offense, after piecing together a solid drive, could only come away with another field goal to draw within ten. After that, the wheels came off. After suffocating the Bears running attack all day, Forte broke free for a 27-yard run. On the next play, Devin Hester completed a 53-yard catch and run to the one and Chicago scored on the next play. The final straw for the Falcons came on their next possession. A sack of Matt Ryan as he slipped to the turf forced a fumble that Brian Urlacher picked up and returned for a touchdown giving the Falcons the 30-6 lead.
Fourth Quarter:Defensive end Kroy Biermann's 50-yard touchdown interception return was perhaps the highlight of the game for Atlanta but it was too little too late. Even with just more than 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Falcons would not be able to surmount the deficit they'd created. The Bears began to turn to the ground game to grind out the game, finishing with 88 yards on the ground. Michael Turner's 100 yards on the ground, highlighted by his long run, was perhaps the most quiet 100-yard day of his career. Biermann's touchdown would stand as the game's final score, with the Falcons losing 30-12.
Play of the Game:There weren't a lot of bright spots in Sunday's game. Turner's long run was exciting and a few of the plus-20 plays in the air were encouraging to see. Biermann's athletic and head's up play on an Abraham tipped pass was hands down Atlanta's play of the game.
Player of the Game:John Abraham picked up where he left off last season. The Falcons wanted to get pressure on Jay Cutler and at times managed to do just that. Losing defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux to an injury for much of the first half hurt Atlanta's ability to get pressure. The defensive end did his best to pick up the slack, bringing down Cutler twice on the day and had four total tackles. The other two tackles were in Chicago's backfield for losses as well.
Turning Point:The turning point failed to deliver on the Falcons side on Sunday. Once Ryan scrambled in the third quarter, fleeing the pressure and then slipped on the Soldier Field turf, things got ugly. The ball slipped free from Ryan and Chicago's Pro Bowl linebacker scooped it up and kept moving. He ran the final 12 yards for the touchdown giving the Bears the big lead.
Stat of the Game:Five sacks. The Bears dropped Ryan five times on Sunday. The Falcons' inability to protect their quarterback from an attacking defense like the Bears, led by Pro Bowl end Julius Peppers (who had two sacks on the day) hurt their ability to keep the offense on the field, moving and gaining big chunks of yards as expected. Last season the Atlanta offensive line only allowed 23 sacks.
Tweet of the Game:Falcons fans did their best to look for positives during the onslaught Sunday. At times it worked, but much of the time, all they were saying was how disappointed they were. One fan tried to find the difficult loss inspiring, seeking a reason to do something other than watch the game. @grayson_lovern shared this about 30 minutes before the game ended: "I think this is the Football Gods' way of telling me that I should be studying...c'mon
Quote of the Day:Leave it to a veteran to look at each game as an individual body of work instead of panicing about the big picture. Abraham, one of the players on Atlanta's roster that's seen and done a lot of things in this league, felt everything that happened Sunday isn't a total lost cause. As long as the players use it for positive change, he and his teammates will be fine: "I'm just glad it happened now, rather than the playoffs or later in the season. I think this is going to be a learning lesson for our team to show us that we're not where we want to be. We can still build and get where we want to."