Atlanta 23 / Chicago 17
By: Allison Smith
Brooks Reed maybe didn’t do it all, but he certainly stepped up all game and sealed the win to give the Atlanta Falcons their first win of the season. Reed had an early pursing sack, 5 solo tackles, and the sack that basically ended the game, leaving 3 seconds on the clock and the ball back in the Falcons’ hands for the final kneel down to conclude the game.
The opening game in Chicago was a little rough, but in the end, we won and that is all that matters. Also, we came out with no injuries. The defense looked good early on, fast and physical, but seemed gassed later, which is unexpected with the constant change and depth. The offense was also not overly impressive, but did enough to get the job done.
The unexpected star of the offense was Austin Hooper. Apparently with all the big named stars, the Bears’ defense forgot about our Tight End. He was left wide open early in the 4th quarter for a pretty easy 88-yard touchdown. He did have a pretty nice stiff arm on a defender, and most of the receivers were running and blocking for him. On the next Falcon possession, Hooper hauled in a 40-yard pass that led to the final points of the game, a Matt Bryant field goal.
As expected, Julio Jones was a decoy much of the day, which Ju is always happy to be. He was blocking, running downfield, and decoying to allow others to get open. Mohammed Sanu had the most receptions at 6 for 47 yards. Taylor Gabriel hauled in 3 for 36 yards, while running backs, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman also combined for 6 catches for 22 yards. While they had more rush attempts, again combined, they only tallied 53 yards. Heck, Ryan had a 13 yard run, for nearly a touchdown early in the 2nd quarter. Yes, I was holding my breath when Ryan tucked it and ran, but he handled it well and seemed energized after that run. That set up the FIRST touchdown of the season! Who had their money on Freeman for the first TD??? With just over 4 minutes left in the half, Freeman ran in a 5 yarder while everyone pulled to the right, Free used the rest of the field to run into the left corner of the end zone.
Unfortunately, as high as we were after that Freeman touchdown, the Bears marched down the field in 7 plays and matched our touchdown and went into the half tied at 10/10.
If you want to improve your game, apparently the answer is laser surgery. De’Vondre Campbell was on fire Sunday. Campbell had 6 total tackles, and played multiple defensive positions and was all over the field, making plays with much improved closing speed. Rookie Duke Riley was also impressive and involved in 5 tackles, and definitely eyeing the ball and ball carrier. Also disruptive, without the official stats, Grady Jarrett, having 2 offensive penalties called on offensive linemen trying to block him (and several more could have been called). Vic Beasley, Jr. and Brian Poole both had sacks on the day. Ricardo Allen and Robert Alford both had some good pass break ups on the day and 3 tackles a piece.
As mentioned earlier, even with the defense in and out so much, they looked gassed late in the game and were playing a little far off and giving up too much. They did cause 2 fumbles and had 4 sacks on the day, but overall had too many missed tackles. Throughout most of the game, however, there were not many yards after the catch, as the D was there when the ball arrived. The biggest problem with the defense on Sunday was Bears running back Tarik Cohen. He had 4 rushes, one for 46 yards, caught 8 passes, one of which was a touchdown, and returned 3 punts, a long of 17 yards. Yes, he apparently does everything. Kudos to the rook out of North Carolina A&T, glad we don’t play him again.
Special teams fared pretty well. Of course, the Matts performed as expected. Bryant hitting all 3 field goals and 3 extra points. Bosher with 3 punts, a long of 62. Andre Roberts showed well returning all punts and kickoffs. The opening kick, he took back 63 yards, but a penalty was called, placing the ball back on the Atlanta 8. At least Roberts was showing what he can do. He had a long of 11 yards that did count, and a punt return of 15 yards. There is a spark there, he just needs a little help.
Overall, a good start to the season, al biet a little frustrating for us fans. We did start 0-1 at home last season, so I am sure there will be some changes before opening our new home to the Green Bay Packers this weekend. I know one change, the offensive line will shape up. Matt Ryan gave him a piece of his mind Sunday, “you’re going to get me killed” out there. Akiem Hicks had 2 sacks and a late hit on Ryan, who was hit several other times on Sunday as well. Don’t be married to that o-line as it stood on opening day.
Side note…Mr. Decoy….Julio Jones, had his 500th catch Sunday. This ties him for the quickest to 500 catches in only 80 games. He is tied with Anquan Boldin for fewest games to that 500.
Iron Falcon Award: Obviously goes to Brooks Reed this week, but note, it was a team win, but Brooks stepped up at the end when we needed a stop the most. His first sack on the day, Brooks chased Mike Glennon, put his hands up to force Glennon to pull the ball back down, then pursued on to the sack. The game winning sack, Brooks shed his blocker and chased Glennon down for a 9-yard loss and sealed the win.
Featured Image is courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons