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Friday, September 24

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Bears Tue Sep 13 2011

Bears Stars Shine Bright in Big Opening Win

Thumbnail image for bears.gifWell, that was undeniably impressive.

You couldn't often say that about Bears wins last season, even the big ones, but Sunday's 30-12 win against Atlanta was among the best performances submitted by any team during what the NFL has insistently branded "Kickoff Weekend."

While Chicago got something from just about everyone -- always a good sign -- it was hard to miss the big players making big plays:

Brian Urlacher had one of the most athletic interceptions you'll see a linebacker make, and also returned a fumble for a touchdown. Julius Peppers caused that fumble and had two of Chicago's five sacks. Matt Forte and Devin Hester each had a catch-and-run explosion of 50-plus yards, scoring and setting up, respectively, the team's two offensive touchdowns.

The defense, frankly, was terrifying nearly to the point of logical infallibility: If the Bears can continue to get pressure just with four pass rushers, freeing them to drop seven men into Cover 2 coverage (including two deep safeties), what exactly are opposing quarterbacks supposed to do? It was an equation Matt Ryan, one of the top 10 or 12 quarterbacks in the league, struggled to solve all afternoon.

On the other hand, don't be fooled in any way by Jay Cutler's passing numbers (22 of 32 for 312 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception). He was nothing more serviceable, making a few nice throws but also two awful decisions (one in the red zone) that should have been intercepted.

Cutler wildly overthrew the very promising Kellen Davis on a wide-open tight-end throwback play that should have been an easy touchdown. He got more than a third of his passing yards on the two pumpkin-into-a-carriage dump-offs to Forte and Hester.

The former future Mr. Cavallari seemed indecisive in the pocket once again, taking four sacks, and the most generous observation about his interception, coming on a bubble screen thrown in the face of an unblocked John Abraham, tipped and returned by a second defensive lineman for a touchdown, would be that at least the play call was as bad as the execution.

Elsewhere, we're feeling good about an offensive line anchored by Roberto Garza in his first game in Olin Kreutz's old center spot, though it will be good to see first-round pick Gabe Carimi settle in more at right tackle. We're ambivalent at this point about Roy Williams, which actually is an improvement from the "hating it" rating we gave his free-agent signing.

It was the start the Bears wanted, especially on defense, and good thing, too. They go to New Orleans and host the defending champion Packers the next two Sundays -- two big early tests that this team, if one game is any indication, might actually be ready for.

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