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Nick Foles rallies Bears for 3 late TDs to beat Falcons

After coming in to replace a struggling Mitch Trubisky, Foles powered an impressive fourth-quarter comeback to keep the Bears unbeaten.

AP Photos

ATLANTA — By the time the Bears took the field with four minutes to play in the game, it was clear Sunday was going to be known for one of two things: the day the Bears finally gave up on Mitch Trubisky, or the day their backup rallied them to an improbable victory.

Nick Foles made sure it was both, leading the Bears to three touchdowns in the final 6:20 to rally the Bears from a 16-point deficit in a 30-26 win at Mercedes-Benz-Stadium.

The final score was a 28-yard floater to the middle of the field caught by Anthony Miller — with Foles staring down a blitz — on the first play after the two-minute warning. It gave the Bears their first lead of the game. They sealed the victory when safety Tashaun Gipson picked off Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan with 1:06 left at the Bears’ 24-yard line.

Foles’ first score was a three-yard pass to Jimmy Graham with 6:20 to play. The next one was a 37-yarder to Allen Robinson, in which the Falcons failed to make an easy tackle and he streaked down the left sideline.

The Falcons are becoming notorious for such blown leads. They were up 15 with five minutes to play and lost to the Cowboys last week, and, of course, are best-known for losing the Super Bowl to the Patriots after being up 28-3.

The Bears trailed by 16 when Foles entered the game. He thought he had his first touchdown with the team — twice — but both turned into turnovers.

The first came on a deep pass to receiver Robinson down the right sideline. Robinson wrestled with Darqueze Denard for the ball as he landed in the end zone, and the cornerback had the football in his hands when he stood up.

The play was called a touchdown on the field, but it was reviewed and overturned. Referee Jerome Boger ruled Robinson did not control the football throughout the catch. Denard was given an interception, and the Falcons took over at the 20.

The second came two drives later, when Miller dove for a touchdown on fourth-and-17 with about 10 minutes to play. It too was reviewed, and overturned — Miller let the tip of the ball hit the ground.

Coach Matt Nagy had seen enough when Trubisky, trailing by 13 on the Bears’ first drive of the second half, threw a third-down pass short of the sticks and into zone defense. Waiting for the pass was cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson who returned the ball 23 yards to the Bears’ 19.

After he came to the sideline, he told Trubisky he was out. Foles put on his helmet and huddled with the team’s starters.

Trubisky was 13-for-22 for 127 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 71.8 passer rating at the time of the benching.

The Bears were supposed to catch a break Sunday. The Falcons began the game without a whopping six starters, including star receiver Julio Jones, who didn’t practice all week because of a hamstring injury. First-round pick A.J. Terrell, the rookie cornerback, became the first NFL player to miss a game because of the coronavirus after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday.

The Bears, though, stumbled to start the game, and the Falcons came out firing.

After Cairo Santos missed a 46-yard field goal on the Bears’ first possession, the Falcons threw deep on their first play — a 63-yard shot to Calvin Ridley, was open on the right side of the field. He was stopped at the 1, and the Falcons scored two plays later on a 1-yard Hayden Hurst catch.

The Bears countered with a 35-yard Santos field goal, which the Falcons matched midway through the second quarter. Down six with about five minutes in the first half, Khalil Mack sacked Matt Ryan and forced a fumble, only to have the play overturned because Mario Edwards was ruled to have hit him in the quarterback in the head. Three plays later, the Falcons seemed content to set up another field goal when they handed off to Brian Hill on third-and-5. Instead, he sprung a 35-yard touchdown run.

Trubisky then used his feet to march the Bears down the field, scrambling 45 yards, mostly untouched, to set up a two-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham. After the Falcons punted, Trubisky had another chance to score before halftime, but overthrew receiver Anthony Miller on a deep ball on third down. The Bears went into halftime down 16-10.

The Falcons drove for a touchdown to start the second half, helped by a roughing the passer call on defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. When the Falcons threw a two-yard pass on third-and-2, Hicks was ruled to have landed on Matt Ryan with his full body weight. The Falcons moved up to the 50, and scored three plays later on a 10-yard Todd Gurley touchdown run.

Then came Trubisky’s interception, and the switch.