Atlanta at Chicago

Bears dominate Falcons in division champ matchup

CBSSports.com wire reports
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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.

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"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. 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 defending NFC North champions 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.

CBSSports.com Grades
Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons
F
A defensive game plan that didn't call for enough blitzes and an offensive game plan that failed to emphasize the run enough early -- combined with a flat-lining horizontal passing attack -- were big problems. Falcons receivers treated the football with fear, dropping five passes. Overall, the team failed to respond to adversity in a big way.
Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
A
Mike Martz showed a lot of faith in the rebuilt offensive line with so many seven-step drops in a vertical passing game. They repaid his confidence by helping Jay Cutler put up big numbers. The defense hardly looked like it had half a dozen 30-somethings, swarming QB Matt Ryan all day and producing three turnovers.
By Gene Chamberlain
RapidReports Correspondent

"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."

Notes

  • 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.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Brian Urlacher crosses the goal line with a recovered fumble, one of two turnovers he recorded against the Falcons. (Getty Images)
Brian Urlacher crosses the goal line with a recovered fumble, one of two turnovers he recorded against the Falcons. (Getty Images)

 

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Sun. Sept. 11Final
Atlanta
(0-1)
303612
Chicago
(1-0)
10614030
FalconsBears
Pass: M. Ryan (31-47, 319) J. Cutler (22-32, 312)
Rush: M. Turner (10-100) M. Forte (16-68)
Rec: T. Gonzalez (5-72) M. Forte (5-90)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
FGRobbie Gould, 41 Yd, 9:58. Drive: 10 plays, 54 yards in 5:02.
FGMatt Bryant, 48 Yd, 5:24. Drive: 10 plays, 50 yards in 4:34.
TDMatt Forte, 56 Yd pass from Jay Cutler (Robbie Gould kick is good), 1:10. Drive: 3 plays, 72 yards in 1:32.
2ND QUARTER
FGRobbie Gould, 23 Yd, 8:42. Drive: 7 plays, 25 yards in 3:43.
FGRobbie Gould, 26 Yd, 0:55. Drive: 14 plays, 72 yards in 5:19.
3RD QUARTER
FGMatt Bryant, 25 Yd, 10:13. Drive: 11 plays, 87 yards in 4:47.
TDMatt Spaeth, 1 Yd pass from Jay Cutler (Robbie Gould kick is good), 6:55. Drive: 7 plays, 92 yards in 3:18.
TDBrian Urlacher, 12 Yd fumble return (Robbie Gould kick is good), 5:58.
4TH QUARTER
TDKroy Biermann, 50 Yd interception return (Matt Ryan Run for 2 Pt. Conversion failed), 10:23.
Players of the Game
Chicago

J. Cutler
Att 32
Comp 22
Yds 312
TD 2
Atlanta

M. Ryan
Att 47
Comp 31
Yds 319
TD 0
 
Atlanta
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Ryan31/4731901
RushingATTYDSTDLG
M. Turner10100053
J. Snelling21009
J. Rodgers2002
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
T. Gonzalez572030
J. Jones571032
R. White861014
M. Turner340020
J. Rodgers333015
J. Snelling532010
H. Douglas21007
Chicago
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
J. Cutler22/3231221
RushingATTYDSTDLG
M. Forte1668027
K. Bell102406
D. Sanzenbacher1-40-4
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
M. Forte590156
D. Hester360053
J. Knox360025
R. Williams455023
K. Davis223012
E. Bennett21106
M. Spaeth2716
D. Sanzenbacher1606
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