Jared Allen and the Bears defense sacked Matt Ryan 4 times to propel Chicago to a 27-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Ryan and company were held to their lowest offensive production (287 yards) of the season. “We are not playing very efficiently, in terms of completing third downs,” said Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith. “We were 4‐13 on third downs today, and you can’t have that type of percentage. We have to protect our quarterback better. We got him hit entirely too many times.“
On the other sideline, the Bears offense converted 7 of their 15 third down chances. Jay Cutler’s 47-yard completion to Brandon Marshall at the Atlanta 3 converted a third and 6 situation and set up the Bears first touchdown of the game. Josh Morgan capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown reception from Cutler.
Chicago added two field goals to take a 13-3 lead into the locker room after 2 quarters of play.
Atlanta used the break to set up a new plan of attack for the second half. Ryan moved the offense down the field steadily on the first offensive series of the new half. Once inside the 50, Ryan turned to Antone Smith who has been the most explosive option for the Falcons this season. “I’m okay with the touches I get,” said Smith. “If I get more, that’s great, too.” And he should get more. Smith has scored five times this season on plays covering 38-74 yards.
Matt Bryant’s game-tying 54-yard field goal salvaged a potential touchdown drive that stalled when the offense failed to convert third and 3.
Cutler and company didn’t waste much time retaking the lead on the second play of the ensuing drive. The height and size advantage of the Bears receivers combined with a comfortable pocket allowed Cutler to connect with Alshon Jeffery for a 74-yard completion. “We got the look over there with quarters on his side and the safeties low so I couldn’t wait for Alshon to get out there (in the route),” said Cutler.
The Falcons were unable to answer the score when yet another third and short opportunity fell short.
Chicago converted 4 third down chances on their next drive including a third and 9 for a touchdown.
There would be no comebacks for the Falcons as the Bears defense turned up for the final 10 minutes. Chicago intercepted a pass, sacked Matt Ryan three times, and held the Falcons offense to 37 net yards on three defensive stands.
Bears defensive end Willie Young, who had two sacks in the game, recognized the importance of the defense locking out the Falcons down the stretch. “We were up by a couple points, but still, it’s crucial time in the game to come out and still be productive, Young. “Make things happen, that’s an opportunity for a defensive line to come out and get after some people without having to worry about the run game.”
The win improves the Bears record to 3-3 on the season and will return to the friendly confines of Soldier Field where they will await the struggling Miami Dolphins (2-3). Atlanta travels north to face the Baltimore Ravens. The Falcons-Ravens series is all even at 2 games apiece.