Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons: Live updates from Soldier Field

Bears take on Falcons in 2023 home finale

Chicago Bears cornerback Kyler Gordon and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds bring down Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London during their game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

CHICAGO – The Bears will close out their home schedule with a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Matt Eberflus, Justin Fields and the Bears will try to pick up their fifth win in their last seven tries. The Bears beat the Arizona Cardinals last week in a Christmas Eve matchup at Soldier Field. The Atlanta Falcons are fresh off a win over the Indianapolis Colts last week.

Shaw Local Bears beat writer Sean Hammond is at Soldier Field for the game. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, at @sean_hammond, on Instagram at @bears_reporter and on Threads at @bears_reporter. Shaw Local reporter Michal Dwojak also will be reporting from Soldier Field. Follow him on X at @mdwojak94 and on Threads at @mdwojak94. Shaw Local Bears analyst Marc Silverman will provide his thoughts and insights on X at @WaddleandSilvy.

Below is everything Bears fans need to know ahead of the game. Stay here all game long for live updates, too.

Bears win, 37-17

The Bears closed out a victory, 37-17. The Bears move to 7-9 on the season with one game remaining.

With a Los Angeles Rams win over the New York Giants, the Bears were officially eliminated from playoff contention. On a positive note, the Panthers lost again, which made them a lock to earn the No. 1 overall draft pick. The Bears, of course, own the rights to the Panthers’ top pick. No matter what happens in Week 18, the Bears will hold the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2024.

Khalil Herbert punches in touchdown

The Bears added an exclamation point when running back Khalil Herbert punched in a 1-yard touchdown. The score came moments after Herbert broke free for a 38-yard run. The Bears extended their lead, 37-17, with 3:39 to go in the fourth quarter.

It went for a three-play, 41-yard touchdown drive. Herbert now has 124 rushing yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

Bears add field goal; Gordon grabs interception

Bears kicker Cairo Santos made a 42-yard field goal to extend the lead, 30-17, midway through the fourth quarter.

On the next possession, the Falcons went for it on fourth-and-long, but Taylor Heinicke threw an interception into the arms of cornerback Kyler Gordon. It marked the third interception of the game for the Bears’ defense.

Falcons QB finds end zone

Taylor Heinicke ran in a 24-yard touchdown himself on third down from just outside the red zone. Heinicke found no receivers open down field, ran to his left and saw open space with blockers up ahead. Heinicke followed his teammates into the end zone for an easy score.

It went down as an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive for the Falcons. An unnecessary roughness penalty against Bears defensive tackle Justin Jones added 15 yards along the way. Jones ripped off an opponent’s helmet during a scuffle.

The Bears hold a 10-point lead, 27-17, with 12:22 to go.

Stevenson intercepts Heinicke

Bears rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson picked off Atlanta quarterback Taylor Heinicke midway through the third quarter. Heinicke dropped back to pass and looked right. He rotated his hips and quickly fired off a pass to his left – and probably never even saw Stevenson.

The ball zipped right to No. 29, who made an easy grab for a takeaway. It marked the third interception of Stevenson’s rookie season and his third in the span of five games.

On the ensuing offensive possession, DJ Moore made two catches to help the Bears into field goal range. Kicker Cairo Santos made a 42-yard field goal to extend the Bears’ lead, 27-10.

Falcons score field goal; Jaylon Johnson injured

The Falcons pulled back within 14 points after a field goal from kicker Younghoe Koo. The Bears lead, 24-10. The Falcons drove 56 yards on nine plays with the help of a roughing the passer penalty against Bears defensive tackle Justin Jones.

Cornerback Jaylon Johnson did not take the field after halftime. Johnson is questionable to return due to a right shoulder injury. Johnson was spotted on the Bears’ bench stretching out his right shoulder and working with an elastic band.

Bears add field goal

The Bears cruised down the field after halftime, largely thanks to another big gain from DJ Moore and a nice run from running back Khalil Herbert. But the drive stalled out inside the 5-yard line.

On fourth-and-goal, the Bears lined up quarterback Justin Fields in the shotgun, with kicker Cairo Santos and punter Trenton Gill lined up out wide at receiver. It’s unclear what exactly Luke Getsy was ready to dial up because the Falcons were so confused they burned a timeout.

After the timeout, Santos knocked through a chip-shot field goal. The Bears lead, 24-7, early in the third quarter.

Edwards picks of Heinicke; Bears lead at halftime

On third down, Falcons quarterback Taylor Heinicke dropped back to pass and zipped a ball toward his left. Bears linebacker TJ Edwards made a diving interception to give the Bears the ball at the Falcons’ 37-yard line. The interception came with just over a minute to go in the second quarter.

The Bears were unable to capitalize, though. Justin Fields was sacked on third down and the Bears were forced to try a long field goal attempt. Cairo Santos’ 55-yard try was well short and Falcons cornerback Dee Alford returned the field goal from 9 yards deep in the end zone.

Alford nearly had a Devin Hester moment, returning the ball 96 yards before tight end Robert Tonyan tripped him up at the Bears’ 13-yard line. Tonyan’s tackle saved a touchdown.

At halftime, the Bears lead, 21-7. Justin Fields threw for 166 yards and a touchdown on 13-for-17 passing. Fields also ran in a touchdown and had 21 rushing yards. DJ Moore had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in the first half.

Roschon Johnson finds the end zone

The Bears used a methodical 75-yard touchdown drive to extend their lead to two possessions after a touchdown from rookie running back Roschon Johnson. Johnson’s 2-yard touchdown run capped a 12-play drive that ate up more than seven minutes of clock.

The Bears now lead, 21-7, with 4:02 to go in the second quarter.

Along the way, the Bears went for it on fourth-and-inches from the 3-yard line, picking up a first down with a “tush push” quarterback sneak from Justin Fields. Johnson scored on the following play.

Falcons RB Allgeier scores touchdown

On the first play from scrimmage following a Bears touchdown, Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier took a short pass from Taylor Heinicke and ran it 75 yards for a Falcons touchdown. It marked the first score of the game for the Falcons. It was a significant breakdown for a Bears defense that has been quite reliable over recent weeks.

The Bears lead, 14-7, early in the second quarter.

Fields runs in touchdown; Moore sets new career high

Quarterback Justin Fields ran in a 9-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. The Bears pushed their lead to two scores, 14-0. It went as an eight-play, 68-yard drive for the Bears offense.

Receiver DJ Moore totaled 71 receiving yards in the first quarter, which marked a new career high. Moore now has 1,212 receiving yards on the season. It is his first time surpassing 1,200 yards in a season. If he reaches 1,295 yards this season, it will go down as a top-five Bears receiving season of all time.

Koo misses another field goal try

The Falcons missed another field goal try, this time from 42 yards away. Younghoe Koo’s kick hit the left upright and bounced away no good. It marked Koo’s second missed field goal of the afternoon. The Falcons have now driven into field goal range twice and missed twice.

The Bears lead, 7-0, midway through the first quarter.

Fields connects with Moore for touchdown

Justin Fields and DJ Moore are on the same page early in this game.

Fields connected with Moore for a 32-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. Later on the possession, the Bears nearly turned the ball over when Fields fumbled a snap. The Bears were bailed out by their own penalty. A false start on Braxton Jones negated the play.

Then on third-and-goal, Fields connected with Moore again for a 7-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone. The Bears took the lead, 7-0, with 8:47 to go in the first quarter.

Falcons miss field goal on opening possession

The Falcons won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. They ran a trick play on the first play from scrimmage, pitching the ball backward twice before quarterback Taylor Heinicke unleashed a 22-yard pass to receiver Drake London.

Running back Bijan Robinson picked up 21 yards after cutting the opposite direction on his first carry of the afternoon. But then Robinson fumbled a direct snap from a wildcat formation, which led to a 6-yard loss for the Falcons.

Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo missed a 50-yard field goal try. The weather is affecting things at Soldier Field. Neither kicker had much success from beyond 50 yards during pregame warm ups.

Latest injury news

Bears receiver Darnell Mooney will not play on Sunday. He was ruled out with a concussion on Friday.

Tight end Cole Kmet will play. He dealt with a knee injury this week and did not practice until Friday. He entered Sunday listed as questionable, looking to test out his injured knee before the game.

The following players are listed as inactive: Mooney, running back D’Onta Foreman, linebacker DeMarquis Gates, quarterback Nathan Peterman, safety Quindell Johnson and guard Ja’Tyre Carter.

Foreman missed last week’s game due to a personal reason. He was back at practice this week, but will not dress for the game on Sunday. Look for Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson to lead the running back group.

Guard Teven Jenkins is back from a concussion he suffered two weeks ago in Cleveland. With Jenkins back, the Bears offensive line will be back to full strength. Receiver Equanimeous St. Brown is also expected to be back after dealing with a pectoral injury.

Is Matt Eberflus staying in 2024?

The Bears haven’t made a final decision on if Eberflus will be back next season. General manager Ryan Poles will likely address that after the final game of the season next week.

On Saturday night, NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport reported that Eberflus is making a strong case to return in 2024. The report didn’t include much new information. The vibes in Chicago have been trending that way. Eberflus’ defense has played well in recent weeks and the Bears have gone 6-5 following an 0-4 start to the season.

There’s no guarantee that Eberflus will be back in 2024, but it’s certainly trending that way. Shaw Local wrote out some New Year’s resolutions for Poles. No. 1 included moving forward with a coach he believes in.

What to expect from the Falcons

The Falcons have flip-flopped on the quarterback position several times this season. Backup Taylor Heinicke is expected to start on Sunday against the Bears. He is expected to be the starter for the remainder of the season. Here are five storylines to watch heading into the game.

Silvy believes he has seen enough of Fields as the Bears’ starting quarterback. Read his full column here.

Is there anything that these last two games can do for Fields and his potential future with the team. That’s what we explored here.

What else did I miss this week?

Here’s what else was happening at Halas Hall this week.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.