Instant Replay: What stood out in Falcons Week 11 matchup with Chicago Bears
Bears benefit from solid field position in first half
Chicago had six possessions in the first half of Sunday's game in Atlanta. Of those six possessions, three of them started in Atlanta territory.
Justin Fields and company took over on the Atlanta 44-yard line in their first offensive drive after a 64-yard return set them up for a drive that would end in a 16-yard, third-down touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney.
Two drives later and Chicago was again in Atlanta territory, this time at the 41-yard line following a fumble on the punt return by Avery Williams. However, an impressive defensive series with Lorenzo Carter and Jarrett keeping pressure on Fields pushed Chicago back out of field goal range. They settled for a punt to end that drive.
Chicago's second-to-last offensive series started on the Atlanta 28-yard line following a fumble by Patterson on the first play of the Falcons drive. Patterson took off for a 19-yard pick up but the ball popped out on the tackle to bring him down. Chicago recovered and returned the ball to the Atlanta 28 yard line.
Pounding the ball on the ground to get well into the red zone, Fields took the ball in from four yards out to give Chicago the 17-7 lead with 4:31 left in the first half. Patterson would get his revenge, though, returning the following kickoff for a touchdown.
Even though the Falcons were able to catch up to the Bears and take a 17-all game into half time, the first half saw Chicago have too many opportunities (and too many points) from Falcons miscues on special teams and offense.
The story of the game coming into Sunday was how - exactly - the Falcons could contain Fields. In the last two games combined, Fields had accumulated over 300 rushing yards, averaging over 11 yards a carry for the Bears.
Mobile quarterbacks were a thorn in the side of Atlanta last year, and they were about to test any progress they had made in stopping running quarterbacks with Fields coming into town. And they did their job, with Fields finishing the game with 85 rushing yards. Though that may be a lot for some, in the case of Fields, keeping him under 100 rushing yards has been quite the task for teams in recent weeks.
The Falcons set the edge fairly well all game, with Carter and Arnold Ebiketie playing well for Atlanta in the win. The Falcons defense finished the day with four sacks and nine tackles for a loss, a significant increase from where they've been in the last few games against the Bengals, Chargers and Panthers.
The Fields effect, though, was the most evident on one play in particular: A third-and-12 situation in the fourth quarter in the red zone. Fields avoided three could-have-been sacks as Falcons defenders swarmed him. Instead, the quarterback ended up finding an opening receiver for a 14-yard pick up. It set up a touchdown by David Montgomery later, to tie the game once more at 24-all.
However, a long drive that ended in points for Atlanta with two minutes left to go and an interception by Hawkins iced the game.