Falcons beat Bears in a wild finish

Getty Images/K.C. Cox The Falcons beat the Chicago Bears 22-20 on a last second Jason Elam field goal in a very wild finish. Elam, who had connected on four field goals earlier in the game, missed a 33-yard chip shot in the fourth quarter that could extended the Falcons 19-13 lead with less than 3 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Chicago went down the field and scored to take the lead with only 11 seconds left. But Matt Ryan threw a brilliant 26-yard strike to Michael Jenkins to put the Falcons in scoring position again with only 1 second left on the clock. Elam redeemed his earlier miss with a game-winning 48-yard field goal.

Ryan led the team with a season-high 301 passing yards, completing 22 of 30 passes with a touchdown. Michael Turner didn’t have a great deal of success on the ground, rushing for only 54 yards on 25 carries. Jerious Norwood added 31 yards on 3 carries. Roddy White led the receivers with 9 grabs for 112 yards and a touchdown. Harry Douglas added 5 receptions for 96 yards and Jenkins had 4 catches for 58 yards. The Falcons offense proved a handful for the Bears defense early on converting 4 of 9 third down attempts and held the ball for over 20 minutes in the first half. However the Falcons too often settled for field goals on their successful drives, which effectively kept the Bears in the game.

Defensively, the Falcons played well for the most part. They had an excellent goal-line stand in the fourth quarter, stuffing the Bears twice at their own 1-yard line to force a turnover on downs. They did however falter on the Bears final drive, allowing them to go 77 yards down the field for the go-ahead touchdown on 11 plays in two and a half minutes. Curtis Lofton led the defenders with 7 tackles. Keith Brooking (6 tackles), Jamaal Anderson (4 tackles, 1 sack), Michael Boley (5 tackles), Chris Houston (6 tackles), Brent Grimes (5 tackles), and Jonathan Babineaux (4 tackles) had noteworthy games.

On special teams, Elam’s performance stood out. He connected on field goals of 29, 48, 32, and 41 before hitting the game-winner from 48 yards out. Michael Koenen punted only twice for an average of 31 yards. Coverage units put the clamps on Devin Hester, the league’s most dynamic return threat, who averaged only 20 yards on his 3 kickoff returns. Jerious Norwood himself had a nice day returning the ball, with 4 kickoff returns for an average of 44.5 yards including an 85-yard return. Adam Jennings lone punt return went for 6 yards.

The Falcons will be off next week due to their bye. Afterwards, they will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.

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Aaron Freeman
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