ATLANTA (AP) — The Falcons suffered their second straight fourth-quarter collapse after leading by two touchdowns, this time to backup quarterback Nick Foles and the Chicago Bears, who rallied from a 16-point deficit for a 30-26 win on Sunday that could spell the end for Atlanta coach Dan Quinn.
Foles replaced Mitchell Trubisky and threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter for the Bears, who improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2013.
The Falcons (0-3) became the first team in NFL history lose back-to-back games in which it led by 15 or more points in the final period, according to STATS.
“These last two weeks have been nothing short of crushing,” said Quinn, the sixth-year coach who desperately needed a good start after two straight losing seasons.
A week ago, Atlanta became a national laughingstock after failing to pounce on an onside kick, allowing the Dallas Cowboys to finish off their comeback from a 39-24 deficit to win 40-39 on a field goal as time expired.
“We found a way to lose these games,” defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. said. “It doesn’t get no worse than this. We probably found the two worst ways you can lose a football game.”
Under Quinn, the Falcons also blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl after the 2016 season and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots.
This time, it was Foles who guided the improbable comeback after relieving the erratic Trubisky in the third quarter. The former Super Bowl MVP had two apparent touchdown passes overturned by official reviews — and still managed to pull out the victory.
Foles threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham to make it 26-16 with 6:24 remaining. The Falcons still appeared in good shape after the Bears failed on a 2-point attempt.
But Chicago got the ball back and moved quickly down the field. Foles connected with Allen Robinson on a short pass that turned into a 37-yard touchdown when Isaiah Oliver and Blidi Wreh-Wilson both missed tackles, allowing the receiver to scoot down the sideline.
After the Falcons went three-and-out on their third straight possession, Foles heaved one with a rusher in his face and connected with Anthony Miller for a 28-yard touchdown with 1:53 remaining.
The Falcons still had a shot, but Matt Ryan was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson to seal it.
Foles finished 16 of 29 for 188 yards. Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, was 13 of 22 for 128 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked twice.
Brian Hill and Todd Gurley each ran for a touchdown and Ryan connected with Hayden Hurst on a short TD pass that helped stake the Falcons to their seemingly comfortable lead.
Trubisky set up Chicago’s first touchdown with the second-longest run of his career, a 45-yarder after the Falcons abandoned the the entire middle of the field. He connected on Graham on a 2-yard scoring pass to pull the Bears within 16-10 at halftime.
Foles, who guided the Eagles to the Super Bowl title after the 2017 season, spent one injury-plagued season in Jacksonville before being acquired by the Bears to put some heat on the disappointing Trubisky.
Foles got his chance after Trubisky threw an interception in the third quarter that set up a Falcons field goal, pushing the lead to 26-10.
Foles pushed the Bears down the field, connecting with Miller on a play that was initially ruled a 17-yard touchdown pass even though Darqueze Dennard came away with the ball. After reviewing the replay, the officials ruled that Miller never had control and awarded an interception to Dennard.
With just under 11 minutes remaining, Foles delivered another apparent touchdown on fourth down, connecting over the middle to Robinson on a 21-yard throw. But a replay showed that Robinson trapped the ball against the turf, turning the ball over to the Falcons on downs.
Turns out, Foles was just getting warmed up.
Bears: RB Tarik Cohen left the game in the second half with a knee injury. S Sherrick McManis was knocked out by an ailing hamstring.
Falcons: The Falcons played without six starters, including WR Julio Jones (hamstring). Also missing were LB Foye Oluokun (hamstring), OT Kaleb McGary (knee), DE Takk McKinley (groin), S Ricardo Allen (elbow) and CB A.J. Terrell (COVID-19 reserve list). The Falcons then lost WR Russell Gage (concussion) in the first half, and DT Grady Jarrett (hip) hobbled off in the second half.
Bears: Return home to face the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday.
Falcons: Head to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in a Monday night game to finish off Week 4.