CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11: Shaun Schillinger #39 of the Atlanta Falcons tackles Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Chicago started the season out on a dominant note, winning their season opener 30-12 over Atlanta at Soldier Field on Sunday.
Last week, Bears safety Chris Harris said that the Bears had a top-three defense, and they seemed hell-bent to prove that comment. They were successful in creating takeaways, penetrating to sack quarterback and stops runs, and limiting damage when the Falcons were able to get near the red zone. Not only did they create scoring situations for the offense, but they even created points of their own.
The pass rush put Matt Ryan on his heels. His fumble in the third quarter was picked up by Urlacher and returned for a touchdown. He was sacked five times, and threw an interception to Urlacher that set the Bears up for a TD. The defense also limited the Falcons running game to a few big plays. Charles "Peanut" Tillman forced Michael Turner to fumble.
Matt Forte, who recently asked for a new contract, made a good case for the Bears to pay him as he fought for extra yards on every play. He was more effective as a receiver than a running back, though his 56-yard touchdown was off of a short pass. On that play, he broke several tackles to get to the end zone.
Any questions on Cutler were answered as he passed 300 passing yards early in the fourth quarter. He spread the ball around to every active receiver, plus tight ends Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth, who brought in his first touchdown as a Bear in the second half. Cutler finished the day 22-32 for 312 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
The game was not perfect, as Cutler was sacked five times. The offensive line had to be reshuffled as Lance Louis left with an ankle injury, so Roberto Garza returned to guard, and Chris Spencer filled in at center. Roy Williams also left the game with a groin injury after making four catches for 55 yards.
But those problems are overshadowed by how well the Bears played against a team who compiled the best record in the league in 2010. The Bears wreaked havoc on their offense, and had few problems with their defense. Next week, the Bears will had to New Orleans to face the Saints.