The Chicago Bears will travel to Atlanta for the first in six years to take on the Falcons this Sunday. The last meeting between the two teams came back in 2014, when the Falcons played in the Georgia Dome. The 2014 game was the last victory for the Bears before the start of one of the worst periods in franchise history, which included a rebuild that lasted the next three seasons.
In a late-afternoon game on October 12th, the Bears beat the Falcons by a score of 27-13. The win was the best all around victory for then head coach Marc Trestman as all three phases played well. On offense, Jay Cutler passed for 381 yards while Matt Forte score two rushing touchdowns. Wide recievers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery both recorded 100-yard receiving games.
On defense, it was the first time Trestman’s team in 24 games had limited an opposing offense to less than 20 points. This was the only game of the 2014 season where the team’s overall plan for the defense worked. Following a historically bad 2013 season on defense, the Bears retooled their defense with a pass-rush emphasis signing defensive ends Willie Young, Jared Allen, and Lamarr Houston. The plan was for the Bears’ offense to score early to force the opposing offense to pass heavily, increasing the pass-rush opportunities.
Once Chicago took a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Bears defense went to work as they sacked Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan three times, and forced an interception. It was a feel good win as the Bears defense was actually encouraging the Bears fans to get loud. A majority of the Georgia Dome crowd was Bears fans. The win in Atlanta would be the last good victory for Trestman. The following week would begin his demise which would lead to the Bears rebuild.
It began the following week when the team lost to the Miami Dolphins at home 27-14. Both the offense and defense struggled at times during the game. What made the game even worse was that the lack of leadership and continuity in the Bears locker room became apparent. Marshall got into a confrontation with kicker Robbie Gould after the game and had to be physically restrained. Neither player was punished for the incident as it became apparent that Trestman didn’t know how to command a locker room.
Asked specifically if he was yelling at Robbie Gould, Brandon Marshall said: "That’s a team matter. This has nothing to do with you. …
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) October 19, 2014
The next three weeks would be one of the worst moments in franchise history as the Bears lost back to back games to the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, in which both teams score more than 50 points. The loss to the Packers was even more embarrassing as the 55-14 loss came in front of a national audience, with the Bears having a bye week before to prepare for the game.
Chicago would win two games following the Packers loss, but would lose their last five games of the season. The first three losses were by 13 points or more. Even worse, those three games were nationally televised. Trestman did everything in his power to embarrass the Bears, whether it was not firing offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, or benching Cutler to try and save his own job.
#Bears QB Jay Cutler's first reaction to being benched: "Shocked at first and then disappointed. I didn't see it coming."
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 18, 2014
General manager Phil Emery and Trestman were immediately fired after the season was over and Ryan Pace was hired to oversee the rebuild. After three season, Pace completed the rebuild as Chicago won the NFC North Division Title in 2018 and made their first playoff appearance in eight seasons. Before the 2014 season began for the Bears, they were picked as Super Bowl contenders. The Falcons win was a victory that provided false-hope as everything went downhill for the franchise following the game.