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Falcons lose heartbreaker to Bears

9/15/2002

ATLANTA (AP) -- Another week, another close call for the Chicago Bears.

Question on the Falcons: Could losing two tight games to start the year affect Atlanta's whole season?
I don't think so. I'm not sure how optimistic they were about winning these first two games against quality opponents (Week 1 was an overtime loss to Green Bay). Next week, they might match up better against the Bengals.

Question on the Bears: How do you explain their good fortune and penchant for winning close games?

It's their style of play -- a hard-nosed style that suits the black-and-blue division, featuring tough defense and a smash-mouthed running game. The Bears are going to look ugly and it might appear that they're lucky, but they have pretty good personnel. And this system of winning has been with the Bears long before Miller and Urlacher -- it goes back to McMahon and Singletary.

Eric Allen played 14 seasons in the NFL for the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Atlanta's Jay Feely missed a 45-yard field goal with 56 seconds
remaining and the Bears held on for a 14-13 victory Sunday, giving
Chicago its first 2-0 start since 1991.

A week earlier, the Bears rallied from 10 points down in the
fourth quarter, beating Minnesota 27-23 when Jim Miller threw a
touchdown pass to David Terrell with 28 seconds left.

Miller and Terrell hooked up for another TD against the Falcons,
a 14-yarder early in the third quarter that put Chicago ahead to
stay.

This time, the Bears had to hold on at the end. They got help
from an overturned call and Feely's second miss of the game.

"Neither game has been pretty, but we'll take it,'' said Bears
receiver Dez White, who dropped a TD pass.

Brian Urlacher was a dominating force against the Falcons for
the second year in a row. He recovered a fumble, sacked Michael Vick twice and finished with a game-high 12 tackles.

On one play, Urlacher hurdled a would-be blocker to pressure
Vick into an incompletion. Another time, the Bears linebacker dived
at Vick and missed, only to crawl off the turf and make the sack.

Vick put the Falcons (0-2) in position to win at the end,
driving his team 44 yards with a quarterback draw and two
completions.

On second-and-1 from the Chicago 28 and more than a minute left,
Warrick Dunn and Vick both failed on conservative runs. Atlanta
coach Dan Reeves then decided to settle for a field goal attempt.

Feely, who booted a 52-yarder to force overtime the previous
week at Green Bay, hooked his kick a couple of feet wide of the
left upright, leaving the Georgia Dome sellout crowd of 68,459 in
stunned silence.

"Those are easy kicks,'' Feely said. "I just didn't get the
job done for my team.''

Vick played much better than he did the previous year in a 31-3
loss to the Bears. In that game, Urlacher recovered a fumble by the
Atlanta quarterback and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.

Vick completed 17 of 28 passes for 166 yards, including a
10-yard touchdown to Dunn. Vick also led the Falcons in rushing
with 56 yards on 10 carries.

The Falcons, who managed only 78 yards in the second half, were
denied a big play with about four minutes left. Vick scrambled away
from a fierce rush and threw a pass that went through the hands of
Chicago safety Mike Brown, who has been at the center of so many of
the Bears' improbable victories.

Falcons receiver Willie Jackson, sprawled on the turf at the
Chicago 22, appeared to make the catch. Vick clasped his hands in
thanks and Jackson had a big smile, but the Bears challenged the
call.

After reviewing the replay, referee Jeff Triplette said the ball
had rolled off Jackson's left arm and touched the turf before he
cradled it.

"That would've made a big difference in the game,'' said
Jackson. "At least we get a field goal out of that.''

The Falcons took a 10-7 lead when Feely made a 37-yarder on the
final play of the first half. But the complexion changed early in
the third quarter, when the Falcons lost three fumbles in the span
of 3:48.

Dunn was stripped on Atlanta's second offensive play of the
half, Kahlil Hill fumbled on a punt return, and Vick lost the ball
trying to scramble.

The fumble by Hill, who was activated after regular returner
Allen Rossum was hurt in practice Friday, led to Chicago's winning
touchdown. On third-and-8 from the Atlanta 14, Miller hooked up
with Terrell over the middle with 9:27 left in the third.

The Falcons absorbed an agonizing loss for the second week in a
row, losing the opener to Green Bay 37-34 in overtime at Lambeau
Field.

The Bears went three and out on their first four possessions.
They finally picked up a first down with 5:33 left in the first
half, sparking a 10-play, 86-yard TD drive. Anthony Thomas scored
on a 3-yard run to tie the game at 7.

The Falcons played without star cornerback Ray Buchanan, who
began serving a four-game suspension for using anabolic steroids.

Juran Bolden, making only the second start of his career, broke
up a couple of early passes. The Bears spent the rest of the game
picking on the other cornerback, Ashley Ambrose, who was beaten on
Terrell's TD reception.

Game notes
Bears DT Ted Washington went out with a sprained left ankle
early in the second quarter and didn't return. ... Travis Jervey,
filling in for Rossum on kick returns, had a 67-yard return after
Chicago's second TD to set up an Atlanta field goal. ... The
Falcons are 24-9 since the start of the 1997 season when leading at
halftime, but 0-2 this season.