Happy New Year! Bears win against Falcons
Jamie Sabau - USA Today Sports

Happy New Year! Bears win against Falcons

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - When you look at the Chicago Bears (7-9) and their entire body of work, some may look at it as a missed opportunity. On one hand, this team has improved by four games so far this season which is all you can ask for from a team. On the other hand, they didn't get off to a great start and let several games get away as this team had a legitimate shot to make the playoffs this season.

Throw in the way they are playing now and you can see this team is quickly becoming a team that no one wants to play and could pose as a serious threat next season. Looking to end the Soldier Field portion of the schedule, the Bears welcomed in the Reeling Atlanta Falcons (7-9) who are also trying to lock down a playoff berth. Whether it was the complete package of Justin Fields who tallied more than 330 total yards, or another great defensive performance it was the Bears turning the page on 2023 with a dominating 37-17 victory.

Even with Taylor Heinicke and the Falcons offense going right down the field on the games opening possession, you never had the sense that the Bears were in trouble as a massive hook up to Drake London was the big play to get the offense going. Their drive stalled out after that as Yon-hoo Koo missed a 50 yard field goal attempt to keep things scoreless. That was the theme throughout the first quarter as the Falcons did a great job of getting the ball into Bears territory, but with two missed field goal tries they couldn't get the job done.

Looking to capitalize on those mistakes, Fields and the offense got right to work and wasted no time getting things going on their opening possession. A 32 yard hookup to DJ Moore got things started as he topped the century mark once again. With several plays generating next to nothing offensively, Roschon Johnson came away with one of his longest runs of the season to set the offense up as Fields capped things off with a seven-yard TD strike to Moore to give the Bears a 7-0 lead. They would never look back and didn't trail once in the game as they continued to play the football they have become accustomed to the past month.

Following the second missed FG by Koo, the Fields Moore connection was at it again as a 32-yard gain moved the ball into Atlanta territory and put the offense in a good spot once again. That is when the running game started to take over with Khalil Herbert getting involved before Fields took it himself for his second rushing TD in as many weeks and third of the season. Herbert also topped the century mark on the ground as the Bears offense has been at an entiriely different level lately.

All it took for Atlanta to forget about those missed field goals was one big play as Hienicke hooked up with Tyler Allgeier on the first play from scrimmage and the RB took care of the rest for 75 yards to cut the deficit to 14-7. That would be as close as the Falcons would get as the Bears offense continued to dominate things in the first half. On the strenght of a 12-play and nearly eight minute drive, the Bears closed out their impressive first half with another score to push the lead to 21-7.

Herbert and the ground game got things going, but finding Tyler Scott for a near 20-yard completion made life much easier. Robert Tonyan also got involved on that drive with a big completion of his own, but facing a fourth and goal from the two, Matt Eberflus chose to go for it with Johnson finishing things off to make it a 21-7 Beras lead. Chicago had a chance to put the game away late in the first half as TJ Edwards picked off Hienicke for the first of four interceptions only to have Cairo Santos miss his third kick and first field goal at home to end the half with a 21-7 lead.

Santos did a great job to recover as he connected for three second half field goals as once again the Bears offense was much more quiet in the second half. The same can't be said about their defense as they gave up more yards than they would've liked, but found ways to make plays. Tyrique Stevenson came away with another interception as the Falcons were sitting on just 10 points after Koo made his first field goal try.

Eventually, the Falcons found their way into the endzone as they closed out the third quarter and opened the fourth with an impressive drive. Despite the Bears defense holding tough on Bijan Robinson to make life difficult, Hienicke was making the plays he needed to in order to move the chains, but was aided by a pair of costly penalties. One of those was a personal foul to extend the drive and Hienicke made the Bears a few plays later by using his legs to scramble for the 24-yard gain to pull the Falcons within 27-17.

That would be it for the Falcons offensively as the Bears defense continued to get after Hienicke with Gervin Dexter picking up a sack and Kyler Gordon coming with the Bears third interception of the game to give Chicago great field position. Three plays later saw Chicago open up a 37-17 lead as Herbert broke loose for 38 yards down to the one before finishing things up from there. Stevenson added a second interception late in the fourth to ice the game and the Bears continued their late-season surge with another win.

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