The Chicago Bears almost finished off an amazing NFL Kickoff Weekend upset against the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. They were almost home. They had 4 chances from the 5 yard line in the last minute to score a game-tying touchdown but just couldn’t quite finish. Falcons won 23-17. If the Bears could have just scored on any of their final 4 plays, Connor Barth would’ve had the chance with a PAT to send the Falcons home to Atlanta with a surprising Week 1 defeat, 24-23. But it was not meant to be.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Bears played pretty solid. They have already shown marked improvement over a disastrous 2016. Their lines looked strong. Their quarterback play was pretty good. #8 Mike Glennon wasn’t great, but he didn’t turn the ball over. He finished 26 of 40 for 213 yards passing with 1 TD. That’s an 86.8 QBR if you’re scoring at home. No interceptions and no fumbles. Nice!
Overall, the defense played sharply. They had some breakdowns, like all/most defenses do, but remember that Atlanta had the NFL’s best offense last year. Holding superstar WR Julio Jones to 4 catches and 66 yards was encouraging.
TE #86 Zach Miller – Miller looked really good to my untrained eye. 😉 Remember when we last saw him? He was injured in the Week 11 game at the New York Giants on November 20. He looks to be in midseason form which is a blessing for Glennon. They’ve already looked like they have a rapport. Miller caught 4 passes for 39 yards out of 6 targets. Look for Miller to have another solid season as Glennon gets even more comfortable with his main pass catching TE.
DE #96 Akiem Hicks – Are you guys seeing what I’m seeing? Hicks is one of the most dominant 3-4 DE’s in the NFL! He had 3 tackles including 2 sacks and 3 QB hits against Falcons QB Matt Ryan. If this “Mountain of a Man” Hicks doesn’t make the Pro Bowl this year I will be shocked.
ILB #50 Jerrell Freeman – Freeman had 10 total tackles including 7 solo tackles and 1 tackle for loss (TFL). That’s the good news. The bad news is he may have screwed up on the game-changing 88 yard TD pass to Austin Hooper. And that may have been because of his call of the defense for that particular play as well as his (lack) of coverage on Hooper. So how did that happen? Word is he may have suffered a concussion prior to that play. Now we’re hearing he also has a pectoral injury and the Bears placed him on Injured Reserve yesterday. That means Freeman will be out at least 8 weeks and possibly the rest of 2017.
Player of the Game
RB #29 Tarik Cohen – Coming into the season, most NFL fans (including Bears fans) had no idea how good Cohen was. GM Ryan Pace and his scouts believed in him. I take pride in believing in Pace and his guys. Check out my Bears Draft Review from May 3. But even I wasn’t expecting him to be the #1 Bears play maker in the Opening game! Cohen is on his way to superstardom for Chicago. It’s his speed, his quickness, his attitude, and most of all his confidence. I’ve been involved in sports my entire life and the biggest thing I’ve learned, the #1 thing I’ve learned, is that confidence is key. It doesn’t matter how big or fast you are. It matters how much confidence you have in your ability. Without confidence, you’re nothing. Cohen has already exhibited this trait to his teammates at Halas Hall. He has no doubt he can play and thrive in professional football. On Sunday, Cohen broke out with 5 carries for 66 yards. He caught 8 passes for 47 yards and his 1st NFL TD on 12 targets. I know! A rookie in his debut had 13 offensive touches. On top of that, Cohen had 3 punt returns for 45 yards! Dude! This was the most obvious “Player of the Game” Award I have had to choose in 2 seasons of writing Bears game recaps.
So What Happened?
Atlanta Falcons 23 Chicago Bears 17
Bears Record: 0-1
“Dutch Lion’s” Record: 1-0 (The “Lion” has now won 8 in a row on Bears game predictions! Next week, the Bears face the Buccaneers at Tampa Bay’s Hurricane Irma ravaged stadium. Look for my Preview later this week!)