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Other Week 15 Game Recaps

Week 15 Game Recap: Atlanta Falcons 3, Chicago Bears 16

What you need to know

Atlanta Falcons

As is often the case at Soldier Field in December, the weather was a factor in the game and probably affected the visiting Falcons more than the home team. The game time wind chill was three degrees below zero, the coldest environment in which Mike Vick had ever played a game. This game started slowly for both teams offensively as the first seven offensive drives of the game ended in punts. The Falcons were winning the field position game early, pinning the Bears deep on three occasions. Despite getting good field position, the Falcons couldn’t take advantage and the Bears’ defense took over the game. The Falcons did get on the board first with a short field goal, but the Bears responded with field goals on back to back drives in the second quarter to take the halftime lead. The Falcons couldn’t score in the second half and the Bears held on for a 16-3 victory.

The Falcons’ passing game struggled mightily against the Bears, as Mike Vick was intercepted twice, sacked twice and only accounted for 122 passing yards in the entire game. He was pressured often and scrambled out of trouble a few times, but only rushed for 35 yards on six attempts. Late in the game, Vick had the Falcons on the move but was intercepted in the red zone on a play where Michael Jenkins appeared to have caught the ball but was hit so hard that the ball bounced in the air and was intercepted. Vick’s only legitimate receiving target was Brian Finneran, who grabbed six passes for 75 yards. No other Falcons’ receiver had more than two catches or 19 yards.

Warrick Dunn was able to pick up 81 yards on 17 carries, but over half of the yardage came on two long runs of 17 and 29 yards. He was pretty much bottled up aside from those two efforts. T.J. Duckett had a miserable performance, rushing for negative two yards on eight carries including getting stuffed on two consecutive carries after the Falcons had a third and one in the fourth quarter.

Chicago Bears

Despite a 6-3 lead through half of this game, the Bears made the decision to make a change at the quarterback position, putting Kyle Orton on the bench in favor of Rex Grossman. The Bears immediately showed some spark on offense as Grossman threw for more yards on his first drive than Orton did in seven drives in the first half. For the game, Orton completed two of ten passes for 12 yards and Grossman completed nine of 16 for 93 yards. The Falcons appeared to respect the Bears’ vertical game more with Grossman under center. Grossman led the Bears to a touchdown on his first drive of the season, despite getting intercepted during the drive. The Falcons intercepted Grossman at the goal line but fumbled on the play and the ball was recovered at the one yard line. Thomas Jones ran for the touchdown on the following play to give the Bears a 13-3 lead.

Grossman was able to get the ball to open receivers much more easily than Orton, making it quite likely that Grossman will become the Bears’ starter going forward. He was able to hit receivers in stride, especially Muhsin Muhammad, who had three receptions for 40 yards in the second half. Muhammad was targeted by Grossman three times in the red zone, the third of which was the interception and subsequent fumble that led to the Bears getting the ball at the one yard line.

Thomas Jones put in a workmanlike day rushing the football, collecting 91 yards on 27 carries, but he did rush for the game’s only touchdown. The Bears also had some success with the end around as speedy wide receiver Bernard Berrian was able to rush for 37 yards on one play. Berrian’s other rushing attempt was stopped for negative yardage.

The story of the game was the league-leading Bear defense. Despite the Falcons having good field position through much of the first half, the Bears stifled the Atlanta passing attack and held the Falcons to three points. The Bears produced two sacks, two interceptions, two batted balls and had pressure on Mike Vick throughout the game. The Falcons had the ball six times in the second half, and the outcomes were: Punt, Interception, Interception, Turnover on Downs, Turnover on Downs, Time Expired. The Bears’ defense bounced back from a sub par performance in week 14 and returned to form to win their tenth game of the season.

What you ought to know

QB Michael Vick, Pass: 13 - 32 - 122 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 6 - 35 - 0, Rec: 1 - -14 - 0

Vick was under heavy pressure all game and seemed flustered by the Bears’ defense. The cold weather also seemed to bother him, as he never appeared comfortable in the game. He was intercepted twice, sacked twice and had two balls batted down. Vick caught one of the batted balls and the result was a 14 yard loss. One of the interceptions was a severely underthrown ball that appeared to get caught up in the wind, but the other interception was clearly not his fault as he hit the open receiver but the ball popped high in the air as the Bears defender flew in for the big hit. The Bears’ defenders hit Vick early and often and his game never really got on track. He ran the ball six times for 35 yards, but with Brian Urlacher spying him most of the game; it was tough to get into the open field.

RB Warrick Dunn, Rush: 17 - 81 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (2 targets)

Dunn was an all-or-nothing back in this game, as he had runs of 17 and 29 yards, accounting for 46 of his 81 yards. Of the other 15 rushing attempts, he was held to two yards or fewer on ten of those carries. Although he did get into the open field twice, he didn’t get all that close to the end zone. He had three red zone carries and collected a mere four yards. He was targeted twice and caught one pass.

RB T.J. Duckett, Rush: 8 - -2 - 0

Duckett had a horrendous game, rushing for negative two yards on eight carries. His best run of the game was six yards and it was nullified by a penalty. He got two consecutive carries on third and one and fourth and one and netted minus three yards on the plays as the Falcons turned the ball over on downs.

RB Justin Griffith, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets)

Griffith caught a seven yard pass in late in the game on his only real opportunity. The other target was batted down at the line.

WR Brian Finneran, Rec: 6 - 75 - 0 (11 targets)

He was the only viable target for Vick in the game, collecting 75 yards on 11 targets. None of his passes came in the red zone, but he was clearly Vick’s top target on third down plays as three of his completions netted first downs on third and long.

WR Michael Jenkins, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (5 targets)

Jenkins was targeted five times and only caught one pass for 11 yards. He was part of the most critical play in the game as he appeared to catch a pass that would have put the Falcons in the red zone, but he was hit so hard by the Bears’ Mike Green that the ball popped up in the air and was intercepted by Nathan Vasher. The play was challenged by Atlanta and the interception stood.

WR Roddy White, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (6 targets)

White was targeted six times but only caught one pass. He was targeted on a long pass down the left sideline that was underthrown and intercepted by Mike Green.

TE Alge Crumpler, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (6 targets)

Crumpler is often Vick’s top target, but he was outdistanced by Brian Finneran in that category in this game. Although targeted six times, he only caught two passes for 14 yards. A couple of his targets were passes that Vick threw away to avoid being sacked.

ATL Rush Defense

The Falcons rushing defense had a decent game, holding Thomas Jones to only 91 yards on 27 carries for an average of 3.4 yards per carry. Jones had a run of 31 yards late in the first half, but the long run did not produce points for the Bears. Atlanta’s rushing defense did yield the game’s only touchdown on a one yard plunge by Jones, but this cannot be blamed on the defense as a Falcons fumble put the ball on their own one yard line. The Bears were successful running an end around with Bernard Berrian, who gained 37 yards on his first rushing attempt. When the Bears tried a similar play later in the game, Berrian was stuffed for a six yard loss.

ATL Pass Defense

Atlanta defended the pass well, holding the Bears’ two quarterbacks to only 105 yards on 26 attempts. They intercepted a pass in the end zone but immediately fumbled the ball away and the Bears regained possession at the Atlanta one yard line. Atlanta was penalized for a 25 yard pass interference penalty that put the Bears in field goal position in the first half. Rod Coleman had the only Falcons’ sack of the game.

QB Rex Grossman, Pass: 9 - 16 - 93 - 0 TD / 1 INT

Grossman hadn’t played in a regular season game this season, but started the second half under center after an awful first half performance by Kyle Orton. He led the Bears inside the five yard line and threw an interception at the goal line, but the Falcons fumbled the ball on the play and the Bears ended up with first and goal inside the one yard line. He also led the Bears to a field goal on his second possession. The Bears’ offense looked much sharper with Grossman at the helm, and he had more passing yards on one drive than Orton had in the first half. He finished the game with a respectable 93 yards in the second half. Based on the performance, many have assumed that he will be the starter in week 16 against the Packers.

QB Kyle Orton, Pass: 2 - 10 - 12 - 0 TD / 0 INT

Orton had a horrible start to this game, missing on his first five attempts and competing only two passes for 12 yards in the entire first half. He was nearly picked off on two early attempts but escaped without a turnover. Orton was benched to start the second half in favor of Rex Grossman, the preseason starter that has been injured all season.

RB Thomas Jones, Rush: 27 - 91 - 1, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)

Jones started slowly in this game, rushing for 21 yards on his first 11 attempts. Just before the end of the first half, he broke off a run of 31 yard to get the Bears out of bad field position. Jones scored the Bears’ only touchdown of the game on a one yard plunge after the Falcons intercepted a pass and immediately fumbled it near the Bears’ goal line.

RB Jason McKie, Rec: 3 - 13 - 0 (3 targets)

McKie caught all three passes thrown in his direction for 13 yards. One of the passes was caught inside the red zone but he was tackled for no gain on the play.

RB Adrian Peterson, Rush: 3 - 6 - 0

With Cedric Benson still out of action due to injury, Peterson backed up Thomas Jones and carried the ball three times on one drive for six yards. It was his only action of the game aside from special teams work.

WR Bernard Berrian, Rush: 2 - 31 - 0, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (6 targets)

Berrian contributed in multiple ways in this game, having admirably taken over the punt returning duties and also rushing for 37 yards on an end around to set up the Bears’ first score of the game. He did not start the game at wide receiver but saw a lot of time on the field and was the only Bear that seemed to have the ability to stretch the Falcons defense. He caught only two passes for twenty yards and appeared to get away with a pass interference penalty on a long pass attempt early in the game.

WR Muhsin Muhammad, Rec: 3 - 40 - 0 (7 targets)

Muhammad was the biggest beneficiary of the Bears’ decision to switch quarterbacks at halftime. He wasn’t a factor in the first half with only one target, which became a long pass interference call against the Falcons. The game analysts reported that Muhammad was open often in the first half and Orton wasn’t getting him the ball, prompting the change at quarterback. With the insertion of Grossman at quarterback, the Bears opened up the offense and Muhammad was in the main attraction early in the second half. He was targeted six times by Grossman and caught three passes for 40 yards. He was targeted twice inside the Falcon ten yard line, but didn’t catch either pass. The first was well defended and the second was off target and intercepted. He did catch one red zone pass earlier in the drive and was tackled at the four yard line. He later dropped a Grossman pass that was right on target and should have been easily caught.

WR Justin Gage, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (3 targets)

Gage was reported as the starter at wide receiver, but wasn’t as much a part of the offense as third wide receiver Bernard Berrian. He had half as many targets as Berrian, but managed two catches for 29 yards.

TE Desmond Clark (5 targets)

Clark was targeted five times and did not make a single reception. One of the targets was an inexplicable drop, but at least two of the others were not catchable.

TE John Gilmore (1 targets)

Clark was targeted five times and did not make a single reception. One of the targets was an inexplicable drop, but at least two of the others were not catchable.

CHI Rush Defense

The Bears held the two Falcons running backs to 79 yards on 25 carries, but had much more success against T.J. Duckett than Warrick Dunn. Duckett’s net rushing for the day was negative two yards on eight attempts, including getting stuffed on fourth and one when the Falcons were in desperation mode. Dunn had more success, ripping off runs of 29 and 17 yards to account for most of his yardage. The Bears also did a decent job holding Mike Vick to only 35 yards on six carries.

CHI Pass Defense

The Chicago pass defense was absolutely dominant against the Falcons, particularly in the first half as they were able to hold Mike Vick to 21 passing yards on 13 attempts. For the game, the Bears were able to sack Vick twice, grab two interceptions and bat down at least two passes. Vick was held to 122 yards on 13 of 32 pass attempts for the game. The biggest play of the game occurred when Vick appeared to complete a red zone pass to Michael Jenkins but Mike Green hit him, forcing the ball up into the air before it was intercepted by Nathan Vasher. One of the batted passes was caught by Vick (big mistake as he should have batted the ball down) and the Falcons lost 14 yards on the play. The Bears also successfully bottled up Alge Crumpler, holding him to 14 yards on two catches.

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