On a night filled with missed opportunities, the Bears dropped a 21-14 decision to the Falcons to put an end to their 3 game win streak.
A host of miscues including back-to-back 4th quarter fumbles by Matt Forte, a pair of Jay Cutler interceptions, and nine penalties for 65 yards ultimately doomed Chicago.
As quick glance at the game’s final player statistics would seem to indicate that the Bears did enough to steal a road win, as they outgained Atlanta 383 to 253 yards, and held the ball for 33:54 versus 26:06 for the Falcons. Neither team were able to move the ball on the ground, as lead backs Forte and Turner tallied just 23 and 30 yards respectively. When Jay Cutler leads the offense with 34 rushing yards, it’s likely going to result in a losing effort.
As for the multitude of Bear missed opportunities, the list continues with zero points in 3 of 4 Red-Zone trips, a failed fumble recovery, and a dropped interception. The Sunday night game of the week began in much better fashion for Chicago.
The Bears were able to get off to a quick start in this one, as Cutler connected with rookie speedster Johnny Knox on a 23 yard TD pass, on the opening 2nd quarter play. The 1st quarter was scoreless. The 7-0 lead did not last long as Matt Ryan struck back with a pair of 2nd quarter TD tosses of his own to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez.
At the half, the Bears trailed 14-7, with the ensuing 3rd quarter playing out uneventfully much as the 1st quarter did. Late in the 3rd quarter, however, the momentum began to swing in the Falcon’s favor. Following an 8 yard reception by Desmond Clark to put the Bears on the doorstep at the Falcon 1 yard line, Matt Forte proceeded to cough up back-to-back fumbles. The first was recovered by Chicago, but the next one was captured by the Falcons at their own 2 yard line. The Bears had squandered a golden opportunity to even things up. With an entire 4th quarter to play, however, there was plenty of time to play mistake free football and even the score.
Chicago was able to knot the score at 14 with a 2 yard Jay Cutler to Greg Olsen TD connection with just 6:14 to play in the game. On that drive, Cutler drove the offense 92 yards, including a 30 yard scamper of his own.
With 3:06 left to play in the 4th however, the Bears couldn’t contain Michael Turner, as he blasted into the end zone on a 5 yard TD dash.
With less than a minute remaining on the clock, the Bears were looking at a 4th and 1 from the Atlanta 5, when Orlando Pace committed a critical false start penalty, pushing the offense back to a 4th and 6 at the Falcon 10 yard line. Cutler’s next pass was incomplete to Clark.
The Bears couldn’t have hoped for more opportunities to get by the Falcons Sunday night. Despite a no-show from Matt Forte and the Bears offensive line, Cutler was able move the ball well enough to create scoring opportunities for Chicago. In the end however, Cutler’s tosses to Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud, along with Morte’s blunders, and the multiple penalties assessed to Chicago proved to be too much to overcome.
Next week will no be any easier for the Bears, as they travel to Cincinnati to take on a 4-2 Bengals squad that has the weapons to capitalize on any mistakes the Bears may be prone to making. A repeat performance of this week’s careless showing will likely push Chicago further behind the red-hot Vikings. As we near the mid-season mark, there will be very little margin for error going forward. It’s time to seize the opportunity.
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Written by Adam Becker