For once, it all came together.
When the Falcons finally exploited the Bears banged up back seven with a brilliant screen to make it a 13-10 game right after the half, it was easy to see how things would unfurl. The Bears failure to convert another two minute drill, red zone trip into a TD was going to turn into the defense finally giving ground, the second half offense that had plagued the team since week three would re-appear, and before long the Bears would pull another defeat from the jaws of victory.
Once the Bears went 3 and out on their next drive, then allowed the game-tying FG, the panic was pure threat level midnight. And then....it went away.
Jay Cutler unleashed the armcock for a 74 yard completion to Alshon, they scored a TD, the defensive line dominated like they should against an OL starting Gabe Carimi, and the offense went right back down and scored another TD to truly wreck the Falcons hopes. It was exactly how Emery and Trestman and the rest of us envisioned this season playing out, and for once it worked.
It's hard to say what this will mean in the long run, as the Bears will need to string more complete games together to make up for the games they've pissed away, but it's all hopefully coming together, and maybe, mercifully, they'll finally start getting healthier. For now, this was as good as we could have ever hoped for, and I'll take it.
Jay Cutler: Yep, he goes first. Fuck you people. 381 yards, 10 yards per attempt, no turnovers? That's good stuff. He was also very smart and situationally aware today. His left handed toss at the ref's junk to stop the clock and give the Bears a chance at a FG was brilliant, and he took good care of the football elsewhere. Good work, Jay.
Brandon and Alshon: Oh how I missed you both. Today was the first time since the second quarter of week one where both of them seemed full speed and comfortable, and the result was over 240 yards combined, and several long bombs that set up TDs. Good to have you back, boys.
Matt Forte: Matt got his first two rushing TDs of the year, he tacked on some more receptions (currently on pace for over 125 catches, which is insane and should come down, but still), and most importantly he became just the 20th player in NFL history to rack up over 7,000 yards rushing and 3,000 yards receiving. Love you, Matty.
The defensive line: Willie had two more sacks, Jared Allen had another, and they consistently dominated a weak Falcons OL up front vs. run and pass. The return of Ratliff was obvious as he consistently opened up opportunities for everyone else. Need to see this kind of effort every week, and this was a great start.
Mel Tucker: Mel called an absolutely brilliant game plan. He used his LBs as blitzers frequently to cover for them not really good at much else, he mixed zones and passes effectively, and he did what he had to do to protect his weak links from being exposed. 13 points vs. the #3 scoring offense in the league entering today, without an entire starting unit of linebackers? I salute you, Mel.
Kyle Fuller: Julio helped him out with some drops, but Kyle still routinely blanketed the big dude when asked. This kid is something very special.
Jordan Mills: When Gabe Carimi is starting on the opposite side you should never be the worst right tackle in the game, Jordan. He committed three penalties, gave up one sack, allowed the pressure on 3rd down that forced Jay's left handed improvisation, and got nothing in the run game. Bad, bad game for Jordan, for not the first time this year, and one wonders if Ola might get a look at right tackle when Bushrod returns to the left side.
Injuries: Bostic and DJ and Briggs were all out before the game started, and Conte got hurt AGAIN. This Bears defense really, really needs some help from the injury gods.
Devin Hester: If he envisioned glorious revenge, he failed miserably. This game was the kind of game that made it easy to let Devin go. He did nothing but hurt his team with some risk taking in the return game, and on offense he was a ghost, registering just one catch for 23 yards. Since his 99 yard explosion in week one Devin is averaging just 29 yards a game and I'm still willing to bet he'll finish shy of 600 yards receiving this year. Enough with the "why couldn't Chicago do this with him?" nonsense.
The Dolphins: you could have beaten the Packers and you fell for a fake spike. F*&k you guys. If you beat the Bears at home next week I'm going to be so pissed.