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What we learned in win over Falcons


1) The Bears defensive line can get to the quarterback. Defensive linemen accounted for all four Bears sacks and pressured Matt Ryan consistently throughout the game, disrupting the Falcons offense by forcing the quarterback to get rid of the ball before he wanted to.

Defensive tackle Stephen Paea recorded his fourth sack in the last five games to force a punt in the first half. After the Bears built a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, end Willie Young registered two sacks and end Jared Allen delivered his first of the season.

Young now leads the NFL with a career-high seven sacks. He signed with the Bears on March 13, two weeks before Allen joined him. But Young was never threatened by Allen's arrival.

"He was a projected starter before we got Jared, and when Jared came in he never flinched," said coach Marc Trestman. "He really embraced the opportunity to play with Jared and learn from Jared. His reps because of the way we're moving people around are not as much as they probably would have been when he initially got here, but he's been all about team.

"His energy is consistent each and every day. As you see him in the locker room, he's got a smile on his face, he's alive and when he plays he plays all out and he's a charismatic guy whose play and energy I think resonate throughout the defensive meeting room and on the field."


2) Jay Cutler is resilient.** Widely criticized after throwing two interceptions a week earlier in a loss to the Carolina Panthers, Jay Cutler rebounded with an impressive mistake-free performance.

Cutler completed 26 of 38 yards for 381 yards with one touchdown and a 109.6 passer rating while not committing a turnover. The 381 yards were his most in six seasons with the Bears and tied for the fifth most in franchise history.

On the Bears' five scoring drives, Cutler completed passes of 47 yards to Brandon Marshall, 74 yards to Alshon Jeffery and 25 yards to Martellus Bennett to set up touchdowns and passes of 16 yards to Kyle Long and 26 yards to Jeffery to set up field goals.

"I thought that Jay had an excellent game," Trestman said. "He played a complete game. He took care of the football, No. 1. I thought he managed the game very well. He managed the adversity we had in the game. He took some hits and was able to respond to that. We were backed up a few times. We had some long drives. I thought overall he played a very clean game."

3) The Bears know how to finish. After the Bears were outscored 34-3 in the second half of back-to-back losses to the Packers and Panthers, it was beginning to look like a case of déjà vu when the Falcons scored 10 quick points at the outset of the third quarter to erase a 13-3 halftime deficit.

But this time the Bears responded, scoring the game's final 14 points to snap their two-game skid. Forte broke the 13-13 deadlock with touchdown runs of 6 and 9 yards and the defense didn't allow the Falcons to cross the 50-yard line on their final three possessions of the game.

4) The Bears defensive coaches deserve a lot of credit. The Bears held the high-powered Falcons to 287 yards—147 below their season average—despite playing without their top four linebackers.

With Lance Briggs, Jonathan Bostic, D.J. Williams and Shea McClellin all inactive due to injuries, starting linebackers Khaseem Greene, Christian Jones and Darryl Sharpton combined for 17 tackles. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and linebackers coach Reggie Herring deserve a lot of credit for preparing the three inexperienced players on short notice.

"It starts with Mel and our defensive staff with Reggie Herring getting them ready," Trestman said. "They played hard. They were in the right place. We asked them to just 'do your job' and not do anything more than that. They played exceptionally hard. Our entire defense and coaching staff deserve a lot of credit. They worked together."

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