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Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears

10/12/2014



ATLANTA -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 27-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

What it means: The Bears stayed within a game of the division lead by defeating Atlanta and evened their record to 3-3, which was important given the way the schedule unfolds. Playing five of the first seven on the road before the Nov. 2 bye, the Bears needed stay at or above .500. After the bye, just three road games remain among the final eight. That will be huge for Chicago with the weather starting to turn.

Stock watch: Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker’s stock rose in this game because he didn’t let the absence of his starting linebackers affect the game plan as the defense carried the team in the first half. Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Shea McClellin and Jonathan Bostic all sat out with injuries, forcing the Bears to use Khaseem Greene, Darryl Sharpton and Christian Jones in the starting lineup.

All three put together solid outings, especially Greene and Sharpton.

As for Tucker, he called an aggressive game that helped the Bears limit the Falcons to just 98 yards and 1-of-5 on third-down conversions in the first half.

Speed against speed: Chicago’s struggling special-teams unit neutralized Devin Hester's effectiveness in the punt return game, and recent signee Teddy Williams deserves much of the credit. A gunner on the punt team, Williams was usually the first defender in Hester’s face when he fielded punts. Williams didn’t make the tackle every time, but he made contact or impeded Hester’s progress to allow other defenders to make the play.

Punter Pat O’Donnell helped too, by booming his attempts end over end, resulting in shorter punts with more hang time that allowed the coverage team to converge.

Hester is typically one of the fastest players on the field, but the Bears had a secret weapon in Williams, who didn’t even play football in college at the University of Texas-San Antonio because he was pursuing a track career.

Williams won nine conference titles in various sprints in college, and set records in the 55-meter dash, 60-meter dash, 100-meter dash and the 200.

Game ball: Marc Trestman weathered questions about his ability to deal with the in-game adjustments of opponents in the second half and grumblings from his top receiver wanting the ball -- not to mention criticism regarding the quarterback’s penchant for committing devastating turnovers. Trestman rallied the team to perhaps its most complete performance of the season when things could have easily gone the other way. Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall were all candidates, but Trestman deserves this one.

What’s next: The Bears begin preparing on Wednesday at Halas Hall for Sunday’s home game against the Miami Dolphins.