Fal­cons hang on to beat Bears

Packer Plus - - Next Opponent: Falcons - AN­DREW SELIGMAN AP SPORTS WRITER

Chicago — The At­lanta Fal­cons made just enough big plays to avoid an­other late col­lapse. The Bears couldn’t get the big play they needed.

Matt Ryan threw an 88-yard touch­down to a wide-open Austin Hooper in the fourth quar­ter, Brooks Reed sacked Mike Glen­non in the clos­ing sec­onds and the NFC cham­pi­ons hung on to beat the Chicago Bears, 23-17, on Sun­day.

A nar­row vic­tory against a team that fin­ished last in the NFC North at 3-13 showed the Fal­cons have plenty to work on as they pre­pare for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Pack­ers. But com­ing off a his­toric col­lapse against New Eng­land in the Su­per Bowl, they will take the win.

“It felt great,” re­ceiver Julio Jones said. “We def­i­nitely have a lot of things to clean up, but we got what we set out for and that was a W.”

The big touch­down to tight end Hooper mid­way through the fourth quar­ter gave At­lanta a 10point lead, and the Fal­cons hung on in the clos­ing sec­onds af­ter Chicago drove to the 5. Glen­non’s pass to a lung­ing Josh Bel­lamy on first down hit off the re­ceiver’s hands, and Jor­dan Howard then dropped a sim­ple catch at the 1.

Af­ter an­other in­com­ple­tion on third down, Glen­non got sacked by Reed to end the drive.

Of­fense stalls: The Fal­cons will need more from their high­pow­ered of­fense if they’re go­ing to make an­other big run — or beat Green Bay. Tops in the NFL in scor­ing last sea­son, they strug­gled to get points in their first game un­der new co­or­di­na­tor Steve Sark­isian.

They man­aged just 64 yards rush­ing and didn’t get much from their pass­ing game. Though Ryan threw for 321 yards and a TD, Julio Jones had just four catches for 66 yards. A first team All-Pro the past two sea­sons, Jones was tar­geted just five times. Glen­non strug­gles: Glen­non, who backed up Jameis Win­ston in Tampa Bay the past two years, didn’t si­lence fans who would rather see No. 2 over­all draft pick Mitchell Tru­bisky.

Glen­non went 26 of 40 for 213 yards and a TD. All but 50 of those yards came in the fourth quar­ter. But the strong fin­ish prob­a­bly won’t put an end to a de­bate in Chicago that picked up steam in the pre­sea­son.

Sack happy: At­lanta’s de­fense has a new co­or­di­na­tor in Mar­quand Manuel and the change hasn’t slowed down the pass rush.

The Fal­cons sacked Glen­non four times, none big­ger than Reed’s take­down on fourth down at the 5 near the end of the game. Reed had two sacks in the game af­ter record­ing just two last sea­son.

Vic Beasley, who led the NFL with 15½ last year, also sacked Glen­non.

“As a group, we did OK,” Reed said. “We saw a lot of run. That’s what we ex­pected. We’ve got a lot of stuff to cor­rect. That’s what this week will be.”

Strong de­but: Rookie Tarik Co­hen is off to a good start with the Bears.

The fourth-round draft pick had team highs with 66 yards rush­ing and 47 re­ceiv­ing. He had a 19-yard TD catch in the fourth quar­ter and re­versed field for a 46-yard run ear­lier in the game.

Re­ceiver short­age: The Bears need help at re­ceiver.

Los­ing Kevin White to a shoul­der in­jury in the fourth quar­ter de­prived them of a starter and fur­ther de­pleted a group short on bod­ies — and pos­si­bly tal­ent.

Af­ter play­ing only four games his first two years due to in­juries, White had two catches for six yards.

The Bears al­ready were with­out Markus Wheaton due to a bro­ken left pinkie fin­ger and lost starter Cameron Mered­ith to a torn ACL be­fore the sea­son.

Ken­dall Wright and Josh Bel­lamy caught the most passes among Bears wide re­ceivers with three each. Chicago had only one catch longer than 19 yards — a 22-yard com­ple­tion to tight end Dion Sims.

GETTY IMAGES

Brooks Reed cel­e­brates with team­mates af­ter sack­ing Bears quar­ter­back Mike Glen­non in the clos­ing sec­onds Sun­day. The Fal­cons strug­gled but de­feated the Bears, 23-17.

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