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updated: 9/11/2011 6:10 PM

Grading the Bears: Week 1

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  • Brian Urlacher gets Lindsey Willhite's game ball for his performance Sunday.

       Brian Urlacher gets Lindsey Willhite's game ball for his performance Sunday.
    daniel white | Staff Photographer

 

GAME BALL

Brian Urlacher

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In his 12th season opener for the Bears, the 33-year-old middle linebacker set the tone with his diving interception that led to the first touchdown. Urlacher wrapped up the Bears' scoring when he picked up a Matt Ryan fumble and jogged 12 yards for his first TD since 2007. He finished with a team-high 10 tackles and 1 tackle for loss to go with the other stuff.

QUARTERBACK (4 balls)

Jay Cutler took his share of licks, but made Atlanta pay whenever he had time to throw. He found eight different receivers and posted a 125.5 passer rating in the first half as he kept finding the guy the Falcons left open. If he hadn't overthrown Kellen Davis on that uncovered misdirection screen late in the first half, it would've been nearly a perfect day.

RUNNING BACKS (4.5 balls)

Matt Forte couldn't find running room early, so he made his money by turning short passes into big plays. The Bears established Forte early in the passing game with 3 first-quarter catches, including the screen pass that he turned into a 56-yard score. His 27-yard run midway through the third quarter was a thing of beauty as he twice side-stepped tacklers to his left for his longest gain of the day.

RECEIVERS (4 balls)

Roy Williams caught all 4 passes that came his way -- and performed his trademark first-down signal whenever appropriate -- but he also tweaked his groin in fourth quarter. Devin Hester turned a wide receiver screen into a 53-yard gain to the 1-foot line. Johnny Knox found seams in Atlanta's zone for 3 catches and 60 yards. TE Matt Spaeth caught a 1-yard TD in his Bears debut and flipped the ball to his Aunt Debbie in the second row.

OFFENSIVE LINE (3 balls)

The stats said the Bears coughed up 5 sacks, but the line had nothing to do with the two in the fourth. That being said, J'Marcus Webb didn't excel in his first start at left tackle. He surrendered 2 sacks to John Abraham (though one could be considered a coverage sack) and picked up two holding calls in the fourth. Rookie Gabe Carimi was off-balance in the second quarter when Kroy Biermann bulled through him for a sack.

DEFENSIVE LINE (4.5 balls)

Defensive tackle Henry Melton showed the burst that explains why Texas recruited him as a running back. Tommie Harris' successor was credited with an absurd 7 quarterback hits and 2 other sacks. Julius Peppers established residency in Atlanta's backfield with 2 sacks. He also forced the fumble that Urlacher picked up for the score. Backup DT Amobi Okoye introduced himself to Bears fans with a sack.

LINEBACKERS (4 BALLS)

Did we mention Urlacher made a bunch of plays? His diving interception counted as the 19th pick of his career. His fumble return for a third-quarter score marked his fourth career touchdown. Lance Briggs (3 tackles) didn't make a bunch of plays as he spent his day in pass coverage.

SECONDARY (4 BALLS)

Nickel back D.J.Moore played early and often and blitzed a ton. He forced Matt Ryan to throw early on Urlacher's interception. Charles Tillman made everything tough for Roddy White. He broke up two passes, posted 7 tackles and punched the ball out of Michael Turner's hands for a first-quarter turnover. New Bear Brandon Meriweather played more as the game went on and contributed 2 stops.

SPECIAL TEAMS (4.5 BALLS)

Robbie Gould was perfect on six placement kicks and even better on kickoffs. Blessed with the chance to kick from the 35, he posted six touchbacks. On the first one that wasn't downed, Gould pinned Eric Weems in the corner and forced the Falcons to start at their own 6. New punter Adam Podlesh's stats looked great (46.3 net-yard avg.), but he benefitted from some big rolls as Weems kept making poor decisions.

COACHING (4 BALLS)

When you thrash the team expected to win the NFC South, everybody looks great. The defense didn't allow a touchdown for the first time since the Nov. 18 shutout at Miami. The defense was prepared for Atlanta's first-half hurry-up and rotated defensive linemen accordingly. Mike Martz' passing attack seemed to boggle the Falcons. Receivers found open space all over the field.

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