In Jay Cutler's first game that mattered since spraining his famed MCL in last season's NFC championship, the Bears quarterback took his share of painful shots.
At least two of them occurred close to the Soldier Field spot where he hurt his knee against Green Bay.
Not only did Cutler handle them without injury, he delivered more shots to Atlanta than he took during the Bears' 30-12 season-opening win on Sunday.
Cutler had access to the full Mike Martz package and distributed the ball all over the field to eight different receivers.
He hit 22 of 32 throws for 312 yards, 2 scores and 1 interception to improve his career record to 23-0 when his passer-efficiency rating eclipses the century mark.
And, yet, Cutler and his teammates thought more about the ones that got away.
The Bears came away with 3 field goals and 1 touchdown on their four marches inside Atlanta's 25-yard line -- and the lone touchdown came when they had a first-and-goal inside the 1.
"We started out pretty good, but we just have to get better in the red zone," Cutler said. "We just have to hammer out some of these details because we left points on the boards."
Sometimes everything worked exactly as drawn up, but still didn't result in a score.
In the final minute of the first half at Atlanta's 8, Cutler rolled to his right and drew the entire defense that way.
Left guard Chris Williams and tight end Kellen Davis slipped out to the left and were the only players on that half of the field, but Cutler lobbed his screen pass over Davis' head and the Bears settled for a field goal.
"We just missed on it," Davis said. "But it's easily correctable. Definitely one we left on the field, but we'll get it down. No worries."
Said Cutler: "Too great of a play to just miss it. It's just a shame."
But Martz's other misdirection specials went for huge gains and scores.
After Earl Bennett went from right to left and pretended to take a handoff, Cutler flipped a screen pass to Forte on the right and he had enough blockers ahead of him for a 56-yard score late in the first quarter.
Then, midway through the third quarter, the Bears lined up in the I-formation and Cutler faked a toss sweep to Kahlil Bell going left.
Cutler fired a screen pass to Devin Hester on the right and, by the time Hester zig-zagged his way back to the left, Bell and fullback Tyler Clutts were inside the Falcons' 15 and tag-teaming for the final block.
Hester came up inches shy of the end zone on his 53-yard gain, but Cutler's play-action pass on the next snap hit uncovered tight end Matt Spaeth for a score.
"That's kind of the scheme of our whole offense, is with the shifts and the motions is to disrupt the defense and try to create creases," Cutler said. "We've just got to do it more efficiently and quicker."
"This offense is designed to keep teams on their heels," Hester said. "If we continue to make plays like we did today, and eliminate some of the mistakes that we had, we could have beaten that team by more. We showed that."