ATLANTA (AP)Nick Foles rekindled that Super Bowl magic.
The result was a stunning victory for the Chicago Bears.
Taking over for the erratic Mitchell Trubisky in the third quarter, Foles threw three touchdown passes in the final 6 1/2 minutes Sunday to lead the Bears to a 30-26 triumph over the shell-shocked Atlanta Falcons.
While the Falcons became the first team in NFL history to blow fourth-quarter leads of at least 15 points in back-to-back games, the Bears improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2013.
They might have a new quarterback going forward, even though Trubisky was picked No. 2 overall in 2017 to be the cornerstone of the franchise.
At the very least, there’s a QB controversy in the Windy City.
”It’s not easy coming in cold like that,” said Foles, who completed 16 of 29 passes for 188 yards. ”But if you can approach it with a mindset of `Hey, one play at a time, you can’t get all those points back in one throw,’ that helps a lot.”
He’s got a bit of experience in pressure situations.
In 2017, Foles took over as Philadelphia’s starter late in the regular season after Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending injury. The backup wound up leading the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title, winning the MVP award in the biggest game of all.
Foles returned to the No. 2 role behind Wentz the following year, endured an injury-plagued season after signing a big deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019, and was traded to the Bears before this season to put some heat on the underperforming Trubisky.
After Trubisky threw an interception that led to a field goal, pushing the Falcons to a 26-10 lead, Foles got the call.
”There’s definitely a lot of emotions,” Foles said. ”I’ve been where he’s been and it’s not easy, but he was supporting me 100%.”
Making Foles’ performance even more impressive: He actually had two apparent touchdown passes overturned by video reviews, allowing the Falcons to maintain their 16-point lead well into the fourth quarter.
Turns out, he was just getting warmed up.
Foles converted a fourth-and-6 on Chicago’s side of the field with a 29-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr., got a break when the Falcons were penalized for unnecessary roughness, and hooked up with Jimmy Graham on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 6:20 remaining.
The Falcons stopped a 2-point try, maintaining a seemingly comfortable 26-16 lead. But a second straight three-and-out by the Atlanta offense returned the ball to Foles, who quickly engineered another TD thanks to some shoddy tackling on a short pass to Allen Robinson.
Isaiah Oliver let Robinson slip away at the 28 and Darqueze Dennard failed to wrap him up, allowing the receiver to scoot down the sideline for a 37-yard score that brought the Bears to 26-23 with 4:21 remaining.
At this point, the Falcons were in full panic mode. The offense went three-and-out one more time, and another personal foul during the punt return gave Foles the ball at the Atlanta 44 with plenty of time to pull out the victory.
Facing third-and-8, the Falcons blitzed and Foles heaved up a pass with a rusher in his face. Anthony Miller came down with it in the middle of the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown with 1:53 on the clock.
”The linemen did their job to give me just enough time to throw and A-Mill was right where he needed to be to catch it,” Foles said. ”He made a great play. So that’s a fun way to win a game.”
The Falcons had one more chance, but Tashaun Gipson intercepted Matt Ryan’s pass to seal the victory.
Bears coach Matt Nagy didn’t sound surprised by Foles’ performance.
”He kind of has a history in these big moments of making things happen,” Nagy said. ”He made a lot of plays happen based off of his experience, and that’s good to have.”
Trubisky, who was 13 of 22 for 128 yards, one touchdown and that one interception, was clearly caught off guard when Nagy yanked him from the game.
”It kind of happened out of nowhere,” Trubisky said. ”I just 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 and how it happened and coach made the decision that he felt was best for the team.”
Nagy said he hasn’t decided who will start next week against the Indianapolis Colts.
”We’ll talk through where we’re at and what we think is the best decision moving forward,” the coach said. ”Honestly, we’re not there right now. … We just want to enjoy the win.”
Foles and the Bears sure earned it.
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