Bears Defense Dominates in Route to Win

The Bears took a major step toward gaining respect around the league Sunday by beating Atlanta 31-3 on the road. The team dominated the second half to win the game. Turnovers were the key to the blowout victory. The defense had three interceptions in the first half against Chris Chandler before knocking him out the game with a concussion. However, the team only had 10 points at the half, which gave cause for concern.

The Bears and Falcons didn't move the ball in the first quarter combining for 87 total yards. Marty Booker and Dez White dropped three passes from Jim Miller between them. In his sixth career start Miller struggled to capitalize on good field position.

The Falcons were moving the ball down the field on their first drive. Atlanta had just picked up their third first down of the drive when on the next play Mike Brown intercepted Chris Chandler's pass as Tony Parrish tipped it in the air. Brown returned the ball 31-yards down to the Falcon 26. The offense went three and out before Paul Edinger attempted a 48-yard field goal, which went wide, left.

The game remained a defensive struggle late into the second quarter. Rosevelt Colvin sacked Chandler to force a punt. The Bears began a 6-play 80-yard drive that consumed 3:20 off the game clock. Marcus Robinson had a 21-yard gain on a screen nullified on his illegal formation penalty. Chicago called a variation of the route on the next play. Robinson faked a short route and then went deep. Falcon CB Ray Buchanan bought the fake and was burned as Miller threw a touch pass to Robinson for a 31-yard gain, which at the time was the Bears longest play from scrimmage this season. Two plays later Robinson caught another pass for 12-yards and a first down. Coming out of the two minute warning Miller threw a lateral to Marty Booker, who rolled right and threw a lob pass to Robinson for a 34-yard touchdown giving the Bears the lead 7-0.

Booker was the team's emergency quarterback for the team. He played the position in high school before being converted to wideout in college.

In a poor display of discipline on three consecutive plays the ball was intercepted. Chandler threw a pass over the middle that Brian Urlacher intercepted as he dropped back in coverage. He returned the ball to midfield. On the next play Miller threw a fade to White, but this time Buchanan picked the ball off giving Atlanta the ball on their 19. Chandler didn't learn from his previous mistake and threw another ball up for grabs and this time Parrish picked it off returning it 27-yards to the Falcon 26 giving the Bears one more opportunity to score before halftime.

Chicago's poor clock management with 57 seconds left in the quarter and two timeouts resulted in an Edinger field goal. James Allen was given the ball on a draw play that gained just two yards. After a timeout Miller threw the ball behind Booker, but an illegal hands to the face penalty was called on Atlanta giving the Bears a first down. However, dump off passes and consecutive plays forced the Bears to use their last timeout with 17 seconds left. On third down Miller threw the ball away as no one was open, but he was called for intentional grounding. The penalty pushed the ball back 10 yards, which left Edinger with a 46-yard field goal attempt. This time he connected giving Chicago a 10-point lead at the midway point.

The Bears dominated the first 30 minutes of football and led 10-0 at the half. Marcus Robinson had a productive half with six receptions for 93 yards and the Bears only score. However, Chicago went into the lockerroom with a feeling of what could have been. The Bears picked off three Chris Chandler passes, which were the teams' first interceptions of the season. Chandler came into the game as the leagues highest rated quarterback (126.5) and had only thrown one pick in three games. Chicago's average field position was their 46, while Atlanta's was their 21.

The Falcons offense received more bad news as Chandler suffered a concussion toward the end of the half and didn't return. Michael Vick was inserted as the Falcons quarterback and led the Atlanta to a scoring chance. He completed passes of 11 and 12 yards. Phillip Daniels was able to sack the squirmy Vick for a 6-yard loss. On 3rd and 21 the number one pick scrambled for 18 yards setting up a field goal attempt by kicker Jay Feely. His 45-yard attempt hit the right upright, which preserved the Bears 10-0 lead.

Chicago looked as if they were going to execute on the break, but their first half woes continued into the third quarter. After Allen was stuffed on a 4-yard carry the Bears were in second and long. David Terrell made a 19-yard reception setting up first down on the Falcon 28. Chicago moved inside the red zone and got as close as the six-yard line. However, Miller's pass on third and short was deflected by DE Ray Crockett, who then intercepted the pass.

Atlanta running back Maurice Smith, who started in place of the injured Jamal Anderson, had an eight-yard gain. Vick then found a wide open Alge Crumpler on a 29-yard gain, but the tight end fumbled as linebacker Warrick Holdman hit him from behind. Walt Harris recovered and the Bears took over on their 35 with just under a minute left in the third quarter.

The Bears aggressive play on defense finally carried over to the offense. On the first play in the final period Miller found Booker, whose 63-yard touchdown run and catch gave the Bears a commanding 17-0 advantage. The score is Booker's second of the year and longest of his career. It was also the longest play from scrimmage.

The lead gave the Bears defense a chance to let loose and go for the big play. Vick moved the Falcons down the field and had first and goal from the 3. On the following play Daniels sacked Vick for the second time forcing the rookie to fumble. The ball bounced perfectly to Urlacher, who returned the fumble 90-yards for a touchdown sealing the victory. With less than nine minutes to play the lead was 24-0.

The only question left was if the defense could shutout the Falcons. Atlanta continued to pile up yardage, but couldn't put points on the board. The offense had a second straight possession inside the Chicago red zone. A 23-yard reception by wideout Quentin McCord set up first and goal from the 8. Bryan Robinson then stopped Smith for a two-yard loss. Then Colvin and Brown sacked Vick on consecutive plays. Despite the fans booing Atlanta decided to go for a field goal down 24 points. Feely connected from 44-yards out ending Chicago's bid for their first shutout since October 3, 1993, which came against the Falcons.

Anthony Thomas added his first career touchdown. The "A-Train" burst from the line of scrimmage for a 32-yard score capping the day for Chicago. The Bears move to 2-1 for the first time since 1995 with the 31-3 victory.

Bear Report Top Stories