Chicago forced their will on Atlanta in all three phases of the game, finishing with a 30-12 victory over the Dirty Birds and forcing analysts to reevaluate early predictions of a Chicago fall-off from last season's NFC Championship Game appearance.
The Bears were one-point underdogs heading into the game in a rare trip to the home-underdog line.
Statistically, the game looked much closer than the score would indicate, but the Bears made plays when they counted and controlled the trenches and the clock.
Turnovers were a huge factor in the game, as well, and the Bears played their type of ball, forcing three turnovers, while limiting their own to just one on a batted pass that resulted in the Falcons' only touchdown.
The strategy and game plan devised by the coaching staff was well implemented by the players, and the Bears will head to New Orleans in Week 2 with a 1-0 record
The outcome was truly a team victory, but there were standouts on both sides of the ball that led the way so let's take a few moments to look at the most impressive Bear performances for their Week 1 matchup with the Falcons.
Let's get some honorable mentions out of the way first.
Charles Tillman: Peanut had himself quite a day, forcing a fumble and making a couple of key pass-defenses.
Tim Jennings: Jennings did a good job of keeping Roddy White in front of him and played a big part in limiting the Pro Bowl receiver to just 61 yards on eight receptions. He also chased Michael Turner down from behind to save a touchdown.
Robbie Gould: After a shaky preseason with a new holder, Gould was golden in hitting three field goals and three extra points.
Corey Graham: It had to be satisfying for Graham to get the best of Eric Weems all day. Graham was considered by many to have been snubbed in last year's Pro Bowl selections in favor of Weems. Graham made three plays on Weems in the return game, playing an enormous part in limiting him to just 3 yards per return on punts and forcing him to think twice about bringing the ball out of the end zone on kickoff returns after stuffing him.
The Towering Tight End Tandem: The 6'7" tight ends Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth made their presence felt, performing well in blocking assignment and combining for four receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown.
The Receiving Corps: Roy Williams route-running impressed and he made some big first down catches before leaving the game with a groin injury, racking up four receptions for 55 yards. Johnny Knox and Devin Hester each brought in three receptions for 60 yards, with Hester perfectly executing a well drawn up screen play that ended up looking more like a punt return than a pass reception, running 53 yards and setting up Matt Spaeth's 1-yard TD catch.
The Bears' under-rated running back continued where he left off last season.
Showing his value in the passing offense as well as the rushing game, Forte posted 16 rushes for 68 yards and five receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.
It was Forte's 56-yard catch and run on a screen pass that gave the Bears the early lead that they would not relinquish. On the run, Forte showed great vision as well as great balance as he made two defenders miss before bouncing off a Sean Weatherspoon tackle before racing to the end zone.
Later in the game, Forte juked Dunta Robinson out of his shoes on a sweep to the left that resulted in 27 yards and a first down on a third-quarter scoring drive.
Playing like this will certainly help Forte make his case for a contract extension.
Coming off of Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections in 2010, Peppers started making his case for his 2011 bids against the Falcons.
The Bears' star defensive end harassed Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan all day. At times, it seemed as though the defensive superstar was ready to move his bedroom set into the Atlanta backfield because he certainly was living there in Week 1.
Peppers recorded three tackles, two sacks, recorded a fumble on a Charles Tillman strip and was credited with forcing a Ryan fumble that resulted in a defensive touchdown and got pressure throughout the game.
The Bears' young offensive line wasn't perfect. But they didn't have to be.
But they were better than the Falcons offensive line, a decidedly different situation from what has occurred the past two seasons.
The line did a decent job of keeping Cutler upright, though they did allow four sacks. And they blocked well enough for Forte to average 4.3 yards per carry. But where they really succeeded was in screen blocking, leading the way and sealing the edge inward on screens by Forte and Devin Hester that went for 56 and 53 yards on two touchdown drives.
If this athletic young group continues to progress, the Bears may end up looking a lot smarter than they were given credit for when they chose to go with the players they had rather than jump into the free agency fray for a shiny new offensive linemen.
Chicago's defensive leader set the example and began his bid for his eighth Pro Bowl and sixth All-Pro selections.
Urlacher led the team with 10 tackles and seemed to play well in every facet of the game.
His contributions as the defensive "quarterback" shouldn't be ignored and, in this game, Urlacher was making adjustments to counter Matt Ryan's audibles and the Falcons' game plan in spectacular fashion.
Along with his team-leading tackle total, No. 54 recorded a pass deflection, an interception and a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown.
Everyone wondered how Cutler would respond in his first regular season game since exiting the NFC Championship Game with an injured knee.
Wonder no more.
Cutler led the Bears offense on five scoring drives and up and over last year's top NFC playoff seed in convincing fashion.
Cutler made good decisions, threw the ball away when necessary, evaded defenders and took what the defense gave him.
While he still held the ball too long at times and made a couple of poor throws under pressure, Cutler's day was successful. He did cough up one interception on a batted pass that was returned for the Falcon's only touchdown.
Jay put up a 107.8 quarterback rating, while completing 69 percent of his passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears needed a defensive tackle to step up and be what Tommie Harris was during his run as one of the best 3-Tech defensive tackles in the game.
We should have seen it coming when upon his exit Tommie told us that "the sky's the limit" for his replacement Henry Melton, who he also compared to John Randle.
I don't know about him being like Randle, but if his performance against the Falcons is any indicator, just being Henry Melton will be more than enough.
Melton did exactly what the Bears need of a 3-Tech defensive tackle. He got penetration and created enough havoc in the backfield to flush Matt Ryan out towards the encroaching defensive ends.
The Bears desperately needed someone on the line to step up and force offenses to pay attention to someone other than Julius Peppers on the defensive line. Melton did just that, spending much of the day in Atlanta's offensive backfield and recording two sacks and five tackles.
Maybe more important than what he did statistically is that he took pressure off of Peppers and helped to create opportunities for the All-Pro defensive end. Last season, Peppers was the man creating opportunities for his fellow linemen, which helped the line but diminished his individual impact.
It should be exciting to see what Peppers does in this defense with Melton penetrating on the inside.
And now it's your turn, ladies and gentlemen. Step up to the soapbox below—known to all as the comment thread—and tell us who stood out to you. Sound off!