The Bears were finally able to put together a complete 60-minute effort against the Falcons in the home finale of the 2023 season. Quarterback Justin Fields started the New Year’s celebrations early with numerous big plays at a snowy Soldier Field in what ended up as Chicago’s most lopsided win this year.
After Atlanta missed a field goal on the opening drive, Fields hooked up with D.J. Moore for a couple of completions, the second of which went for a 7-yard touchdown. Moore hauled in another long pass on the Bears next possession to set up a 9-yard TD run from the QB and a 14-0 advantage.
The Falcons were able to respond with a spectacular 75-yard screen pass to running back Tyler Allgeier that cut the deficit in half. A methodical Chicago march ended with a Roschon Johnson touchdown scamper to restore the two-score lead at the half.
Both teams traded field goals to begin the third quarter before Tyrique Stevenson intercepted Taylor Heinicke to set up a Cairo Santos boot to make it 27-10. Heinicke showed some speed with a 24-yard touchdown run to reduce the margin to 10.
The Bears did not mess around this time in a refreshing change from their typical pattern in 2023. They grabbed two more interceptions and Khalil Herbert salted the game away with a rushing touchdown in an eventual 37-17 win. (Box score)
Why the Bears Won
They didn’t commit any turnovers and took advantage of the numerous Falcons mistakes. They also did not let up in the final quarter as they have so often this year.
Atlanta got the ball back down by 10 and the Chicago defense was able to force a three-and-out before a potential comeback could really get started.
Stats That Matter
- Fields had probably his best all-around game throwing for 268 yards with a touchdown and running for 45 more and another score.
- Herbert had a huge afternoon with 124 yards and a TD on just 18 carries.
- Moore continues to justify his acquisition with 159 receiving yards Sunday afternoon.
This is yet another example of the Bears potential when playing up to their ability. They would easily be in the playoffs if they had taken home three very winnable games they were leading in the final quarter. The Panthers loss means Chicago will have the top pick in the 2024 draft. If they can take advantage of it they could really turn the corner, that of course, is a very big if.
The Bears end the season in Green Bay next Sunday afternoon with a potential chance to knock the Packers out of the playoffs.