The Falcons had more total yards (386 to 377), more offensive plays (66 to 64) and more first downs (20 to 17) than the Bears. But the Falcons turned the ball over twice in the first half, directly resulting in 10 Bears' points. Atlanta never recovered. The Falcons run-defense was actually stout, particularly in the first half when they held Chicago to just 22 yards on the ground. But a recurring specter from last season - giving up big plays of 20 yards - reared its head again. The Falcons gave up four plays of 20 yards or more in the first half Sunday and several more in the final two quarters.
The plan coming into Sunday was simple: Stop Matt Forte. Well, not such a simple task. Forte is the backbone of the Bears' offense. As he goes, so does the rest of the team. And he went on Sunday. Forte was all over the field, involved in all phases of the offense — running, passing, blocking, scoring, you name it. And when the Falcons tried to shut Forte down, quarterback Jay Cutler went to his wide receivers, who found seams in the Falcons zone looks.
John Abraham had a characteristic banner year last season, and his performance Sunday has him looking primed to repeat in 2011. Abraham finished Sunday's game with a couple of sacks, 4 tackles and a batted pass that Kroy Biermann took the other way for six. Since 2008, Abraham leads the NFL in number of sacks in the month of September with 12. Big Abe has 51 sacks since putting on a Falcons' uniform back in 2006.
One of the few offensive bright spots for the Falcons was running back Michael Turner, who looked in top form. Turner eclipsed the 100-yards-rushing mark and broke off a couple of big chunks, including a nice 53-yarder to start the second half. Turner was also an effective part of the passing game, picking up a couple catches for close to 50 yards.
Hester in the Mix
The talk all week among the media was how the Falcons were going to go about keeping prolific punt and kick returner Devin Hester from doing damage on special teams. What head coach Mike Smith knew that the rest of us didn't was just how impressive Hester can be as a receiver, and Smitty talked about it early in the week. Hester showed why he's a good option in any phase of the game with a 53-yard catch and run in the third quarter to set up the touchdown that all but sealed the Falcons fate Sunday.
Biermann Pours Another
Last year against Cleveland, one of the biggest plays of the first half of the season occurred when defensive end Kroy Biermann tipped a pass, dove to make the interception, dusted himself off and ran into the end zone. Biermann almost repeated that Sunday at Chicago, picking off a pass tipped by Abraham and returning it 50 yards for six points. That's two interceptions and two touchdowns for Biermann in his career.