Another week in this crazy 2020 season yielded another improbable win for the Chicago Bears at Atlanta. Matt Nagy yanked an erratic Mitch Trubisky in the third quarter and sent in Nick Foles, who was signed in the offseason for just such an instance. The former Super Bowl MVP threw three touchdowns to lead the Bears from 16 points down, to a 30-26 win against the Falcons.
Foles, who had worked with Bears coach Matt Nagy previously, but never had him calling the plays, said that he did some improvising at the line of scrimmage. “He let me be me,” stated Foles after the game
Foles completed touchdown passes to Jimmy Graham, Allen Robinson, and Anthony Miller, whose earlier touchdown was overturned after review. Foles finished the game 16/29 for 188 yards. The Bears defense tightened up in the last six minutes, forcing two punts, and a key interception to kill any chance of a Falcons rally.
What he did was nothing short of amazing,” said safety Tashaun Gipson. “I tip my hat to the guy. I have the utmost confidence in him. You have to be happy for a guy like that.”
Tight end Jimmy Graham was impressed. “His execution and taking over the “kills” and the calls was pretty special. He was up there ad-libbing for sure. Checking and changing some plays. It was pretty cool to see, and pretty cool to be a part of. It’s been a very unique start to the season for us.”
Graham also had high praise for Nagy’s optimism despite the deficit. “We got a special coach,” he says. “He’s never in doubt. Not only the players, but our coaching staff, and our supporting staff here. They have a lot of belief in us. When coach Nagy is running down the sideline motivating, saying nothing but positive things, and you’re down two and a half scores. You have to respond to that. You got to rally behind a coach like that, who has that kind of passion and heart for the game. For his players. I put a lot of that on coach. His juice, his dedication and his belief in us.“
It was offensive coordinator Bill Lazar who informed Trubisky that he wasn’t returning after going 13/22, with a touchdown and an interception. He told the press, “It just kind of happened out of nowhere, he just said ‘Nick [Foles] is up’ and that was that. I accepted the news. I had Nick’s back like he’s had mine. The situation sucked but it was just the flow of the game, how it was happening. Coach made a decision that he felt was best for the team and I’m very happy for this team. They battled back and it was awesome to get a win but it sucks to get news like that. That’s just how it goes. I just have to control what I can control.”
Trubisky could have sulked after the game and refused to meet the media. But he’s never shirked that responsibility. “I’m still a leader on this team,” he said plainly, “and I feel like guys still look at me so when bad stuff happens you just have to roll with the punches and keep battling through. We did that the second half and I’m proud of the guys for battling back and finding a way to win. That’s how I’m going to attack practices. Keep trying to get better and bring a positive attitude every day.”
Coach Matt Nagy felt the interception was the tipping point that led to Trubisky’s benching. “We were struggling on 3rd down a lot,” he noted. “We weren’t producing points in the red zone, and I just think that sometimes there’s a gut feeling as to when to do it, and that just seemed like the right time. It’s never fun. You know, you guys understand these relationships that we build with these guys, with these players, they’re strong relationships, and it’s not easy, but there’s personal relationships and past relationships, and that’s just where we were at that time.”
Nagy was also asked about who will helm the offense next week. “Right, yeah, we haven’t yet. I think that’s what we’ll do is we’ll go back and just kind of enjoy this one right now and then we’ll talk through where we’re at and what we think is the best decision moving forward. We’re not honestly there right now, but I think that there’s something here that we’ve just got to discuss, and again, just go through and talk through the situation and understand that there’s these feelings that these kids are going through right now, and I think we just want to enjoy the win tonight.”
Two weeks in a row, the Falcons have blown double digit leads. Coach Dan Quinn addressed the media. “I said this last two-week stretch is about as tough as it can get, and I do feel that way. When you have chances to go win it and you come out on the other end, they definitely hurt. So basically what we’ve came down to, to say it’s not ok and how do we find ways to finish better, and that’s where our emphasis will be headed into this week because there’s plenty out there for us but we’ve got to be able to finish. It’s been a tough two-game stretch for this team, especially how the last two have ended.”
“We just needed to get into that first 1st down and we weren’t able to do it. You know, it’s a credit to them. Chicago played well in that fourth quarter. They did a nice job. We’ve got to find a way to get it done. We’ve got to find a way in one of those drives to get that first 1st down, to get a little momentum going, put them on their heels a little bit and secure that ballgame. We weren’t able to do it.”-Falcons QB Matt Ryan
Allen Robinson also had an apparent touchdown taken away. He was not happy after the game. “Today as far as the calls on the road, it was tough. I think it was bullshit. Taking away my touchdown. The simple fact that I’ve been in this league for seven years now. When you have possession of the ball and hit the ground and maintain possession; for somebody to roll over and gain possession based on leverage by them being able to roll over, that’s BS. But it is what it is. We were able to overcome that, overcome some roughing the passer calls. That says a lot about this team. We want to win. We’ve dug ourselves a whole twice in these past three games. But we found a way to come out victorious.
Notes: Tarik Cohen suffered a season ending ACL in the game. Next up for Chicago, Phillip Rivers and the Indianapolis Colts come to Soldier Field on Sunday.