It's time to crank up the time machine again for another season of stories and memories as the Birds head into the 2011 campaign. So strap on your chin strap and lace up your cleats as it's time for the first blog of the new year.
The Falcons and Bears are no strangers to facing each other as Sunday's encounter marks the third game in last four years. But this will be the first time the Birds travel to the Windy City since 2005 and second time in last 18 years.
The last trip for the team took place on a Sunday night late in the season (December 18, 2005) on national television on ESPN. Needless to say, the weather was not kind and a huge factor in the outcome.
I actually tested the temperatures earlier in the day while taking a walk from hotel to NikeTown and it was a precursor of things to come later that night.
As I walked on to the field for pregame warmups, the "conditions" just hit you square in jaw like a Dick Butkus clothesline. I've never felt that cold at a football game ever.
The game time temp was a mere 8 degrees with the wind chill making it feel like minus-5 degrees. The famous Chicago wind you always hear about was swirling hard off Lake Shore Drive and they announced later in the press box that it was the fifth-coldest game in the history of Soldier Field.
The Falcons could never get on track despite holding an early 3-0 lead in the second quarter. Both teams were fighting the weather and stalled on several drives to begin the game. After the Bears pulled an ineffective QB Kyle Orton early in the third quarter, Rex Grossman came in and was involved in the only touchdown of the game in a strange twist of fate for the visiting team.
On third-and-goal from the Falcons 8-yard line, Grossman fired a pass over the middle but Atlanta S Keion Carpenter dove for the pick to seemingly end the drive and give the Birds some desperate momentum. But Carpenter got up to run instead of going down in the end zone for a touchback. He fumbled the ball back to the Bears at the one and Chicago punched it in on the next play for a 13-3 lead that they would never relinquish.
Although RB Warrick Dunn did manage 81 yards rushing, the air attack could only muster 122 yards and the offense just a total of 231 on the night.
Atlanta is looking for its first victory in Chicago since 1983 and to break a tie in the overall series, which is knotted at 12 wins a piece. With an expected temperature of 79 degrees and sunny, the weather isn't a factor this time around. Will Sunday be lucky win number 13 for the Falcons?