Who remembers last year's Falcons-Bears game? If you're anything like us, you spent most of the past 12 months trying to forget.
The Falcons loss was a defining one for the Bears in 2008 and for the Falcons. For the Bears, it was a sloppy mistake of a game that ended up costing the Bears a playoff spot. (You could say this about any of their losses, we realize, but the Falcons' circumstances made it particularly grating.) For the Falcons, it signaled a league unsold on Matt Ryan that the rookie quarterback was for real.
You remember the details, right? Just in case, NFL's year-old game wrap is here to remind you:
In the last eight minutes, there was a goal-line stand by the Falcons, an 85-yard kickoff return by Atlanta's Jerious Norwood, Elam's first missed field goal in 31 attempts, a gutty drive by the Bears that culminated with Kyle Orton's touchdown pass to Rashied Davis with 11 seconds remaining and, finally, Elam's winning kick after Ryan hooked up with Michael Jenkins on a 26-yard completion.
That 26-yard completion was the real killer. The Bears secondary, stuck in a Cover-2, gave Ryan an over-the-top look to Jenkins. The coverage was simultaneously too strong and too weak, if that makes any sense, and Ryan's throw was perfectly on target. It was a disaster.
Fortunately, this year's a little different. These Bears aren't the same team they were last year. There's someone named Jay Cutler behind the ball in Chicago these days, and his ability to make the sort of plays in the pocket that Kyle Orton couldn't give potentially close games like this week's a much rosier outlook. (Though, to be fair, Orton did perform well in the fourth quarter in 2008. And he looks good so far this season.)
Maybe this year's game won't be a win, but if there's anything we can say with confidence, it's that this year's Falcons contest won't be nearly as heartbreaking as last year's. Knock on wood, right?
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.