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Grading the Bears

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is chased by Bears defensive end Julius Peppers third quarter. Ryan fumbled ball Bears linebacker Brian

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is chased by Bears defensive end Julius Peppers in the third quarter. Ryan fumbled the ball and Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher picked up the loose ball and ran it in for a touchdown during the Chicago Bears 30-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the season opener September 11, 2011 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 9, 2011 3:30PM


A- By not forcing anything, and avoiding disaster, Cutler went 22-for-32 for 312 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT for a 107.8 rating — his 6th 100-plus rating in the last 6 he has finished.

Running backs

B Matt Forte had 158 total yards (16 carries, 68 yards; 5 receptions, 90 yards and a TD) and got the Bears going with a 56-yard TD on a screen pass.


B+ Devin Hester (53 yards), Johnny Knox (25) and Roy Williams (23) all had receptions of 20-plus yards, usually by being wide open — a good sign.

Offensive line

B Not too much to complain about when the Bears gain 377 yards. Chris Spencer looked like an upgrade when he replaced Lance Louis at RG.

Defensive line

A As good as advertised, led by Henry Melton (2 sacks, 7 QB hurries) and Julius Peppers (2 sacks, assorted mayhem). Amobi Okoye, Nick Reed provided depth.


B+ Brian Urlacher did what he does best — making two big plays with an INT and a 12-yard TD on a fumble recovery. Lance Briggs had 3 tackles. Nick Roach added 2.

Defensive backs

A Charles Tillman did what he does best — forcing a fumble after Tony Gonzalez’s 30-yard catch. Matt Ryan had 0 TDs for the first time in 17 games.

Special teams

B A victim of high standards. No big returns, but no disasters on kick coverage, either. Adam Podlesh averaged 46.3 net yards. Robbie Gould was 3-for-3 on field goals.


A Lovie Smith and staff had Bears ready for everything the Falcons threw at them. Negated effect of no-huddle by shuttling D-linemen; Bears clearly won all three phases.

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