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(Sunday, October 18th)
Final Score: Atlanta 21, Chicago 14
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Matt Ryan threw for two scores and orchestrated the game-winning drive late in the fourth, capped by a Michael Turner touchdown run, and Atlanta held on for a 21-14 win against the Chicago Bears at the Georgia Dome.
Ryan also threw two picks in what was a sloppy game on both sides for the better part of 50 minutes, but came through when it counted down the stretch. The second-year pro was coming off a career-best 329-yard performance in last Sunday's 45-10 shellacking of San Francisco, but Sunday threw for 185 yards on 19-of-33 passing in the narrow victory.
Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White each secured a TD pass among four-catch performances. White gained 56 yards, Gonzalez 52 and Turner ended with 30 yards on 13 carries with the go-ahead score for the Falcons (4-1), who produced a second straight win following their only loss of the season, September 27 to New England.
Jay Cutler completed 27-of-43 passes for 300 yards and two scores, but contributed two interceptions to the game's five turnovers. Greg Olsen and Johnny Knox hauled in TD passes while Devin Hester grabbed six throws for 83 yards in defeat.
Matt Forte was sufficiently bottled up, gaining 23 yards on 15 carries with five receptions for 37 yards. He also fumbled twice for the Bears (3-2), who were coming off a bye week and had won three straight since a season-opening loss to Green Bay.
Forte had fumbled only twice in 478 career touches both running and receiving before coughing it up on successive plays from the Atlanta one-yard line in the third quarter -- the second of which was recovered by the Falcons.
"We had a lot of opportunities to win the football game. You can't make those types of mistakes on the road against a good football team. Those turnovers offensively really hurt us a lot, you got to be able to put points on the board," said Bears head coach Lovie Smith.
After Forte's uncharacteristic play during a scoreless third quarter, the Bears tied the game at 14-14 with a little more than six minutes to play. Ryan threw his second pick of the game to give the Bears possession at their own eight-yard line, and they started to drive.
Cutler scrambled for 30 yards on first down, got a pass interference penalty to move the chains into Atlanta territory on third down and connected with Olsen for a 41-yard gain to get down to the six. The Falcons forced third down, but Cutler hit Olsen for a two-yard score.
Eric Weems then returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards and helped set up the go-ahead score for Atlanta.
Ryan directed the offense 41 yards in seven plays -- with a pair of completions to Gonzalez equaling 31 of those yards -- before Turner muscled his way into the end zone from five yards out for a 21-14 lead with just over three minutes remaining.
Cutler led the Bears downfield for the potential tying score, finding Hester three times for 46 yards. A pass interference call on 3rd-and-17 against Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton with 1:07 on the clock yielded a fresh set of downs at the 14.
A pair of Chicago penalties set the Bears back to the 29, but Cutler found Earl Bennett for 24 yards on 3rd-and-25 to set up a 4th-and-1 from the five with 34 ticks left. The Bears' front line appeared poised for a QB sneak but Orlando Pace jumped and set the Bears back five yards. Cutler's pass over the middle, intended for Desmond Clark, fell incomplete to seal the Falcons' win.
"It was a nailbiter. On the sidline I was telling somebody, 'I hate these types of games,' because it's just gut-wrenching when it comes down to the end like that," said Gonzalez.
A Hester 33-yard punt return late in the first quarter set up the game's first score, as Cutler needed only two plays from the Atlanta 44 to breach the scoreboard. A 21-yard completion to Bennett was followed by a 23-yard TD grab by Knox on the first play of the second quarter for a 7-0 Bears lead.
"We were kind of erratic. At times we were quick and moving the ball, spreading the ball to a lot of different guys, running it -- then at times we kind of hurt ourselves a little bit. You can't do that and beat good teams, especially on the road," Olsen said.
Cutler's first pick gave Atlanta the ball at its own 45 a short time later and the Falcons were on the board three plays later. Ryan hit White on a short pass in the right flat, and the speedy receiver split a pair of defenders to race up the right sideline for a 40-yard touchdown.
The game remained tied until Ryan capped a 12-play, 64-yard drive just seconds before halftime with a 10-yard TD strike to Gonzalez for a 14-7 edge at the break.
The Bears couldn't do anything with a Ryan interception early in the third and wasted a lengthy drive that lasted over six minutes late in the quarter when Forte faltered twice in the red zone.
Over the course of the Bears' three-game win streak coming in, Cutler tossed seven touchdown passes against just one interception...Olsen had five receptions for 57 yards, Knox three garbs for 34 yards and Bennett gained 57 yards on four catches for Chicago....The Bears were 9-for-16 on third downs while Atlanta was 5-for-12...Lofton led the Falcon defense with nine tackles and forced a fumble. Thomas DeCoud came up with both interceptions of Cutler...Nick Roach topped the Bears defense with seven stops and Lance Briggs recorded six tackles and two passes defensed. Nathan Vasher and Zack Bowman had an interception each in the loss.
10/19 01:11:40 ET