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Week 17: What happened in Falcons snowy road loss to Bears 

The Falcons move to 7-9 on the season after their New Year's Eve contest with the Bears.


CHICAGO — The weather outside was frightful, so much so that the Atlanta Falcons fell 37-17 in the storm to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday for their Week 17 matchup.

Below is how every game recap this 2023 season will be broken down by quarter for right-at-the-buzzer consumption, starting with a note that Atlanta won the coin toss and elected to receive. The Falcons started with the ball.


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas — on New Year's Eve in Chicago. The temperature at Soldier Field upon kickoff was 32 degrees. It was snowing.

The Falcons were not hot to start, pun intended. Their opening drive was six plays for 44 yards. Running back Bijan Robinson fumbled the ball in a wildcat formation, but quarterback Desmond Ridder recovered it. Yes, Ridder was in. Taylor Heinicke was still the starting quarterback, though. That series ultimately ended with a 50-yard missed field-goal attempt by kicker Younghoe Koo.

The Bears then had a much hotter start. Their seven-play, 60-yard drive was capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Fields to D.J. Moore, giving the home team the initial lead.

When the Falcons offense returned to the field, it was a similar story. This time, their drive consisted of 10 plays for 51 yards. And, this time, Koo missed a field-goal attempt from 41 yards out.

The Bears weren't able to complete a full drive before time expired in the first quarter, but they set themselves up pretty well at the Falcons' 22-yard line.

Scoring plays:

Bears: Justin Fields 7-yard pass to D.J. Moore; Cairo Santos PAT … 7-0, CHI

End Q1: 7-0, CHI


The Bears set themselves up pretty well indeed. Fields used two more plays to score, and ran it in himself from the 9-yard line. The Bears were up by two whole scores at this point, with the Falcons still scoreless.

Not for long. With the first play of their answering drive, Heinicke connected a short pass to running back Tyler Allgeier, who turned on the jets and ran 75 yards to the end zone.

(NOTE: That was Allgeier's longest career reception by 29 yards. It was also Heinicke's longest career pass, by 2 yards. And it was the Falcons' longest play this season.)

Neither the Bears nor the Falcons added to their count on their next drives. They both went three-and-out.

The Bears were next to strike again. They cobbled together a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive that running back Roschon Johnson finished off with a 2-yard touchdown run.

Again, neither the Falcons nor the Bears added to their count on their next drives. They both went three-and-out.

When the Falcons regained possession, Heinicke was intercepted by Bears linebacker T.J. Edwards with about a minute remaining until halftime. The pass was intended for Falcons wide receiver Drake London. The Bears took over at the Atlanta 37-yard line and stayed there despite running three plays.

Chicago kicker Cairo Santos attempted and missed a 55-yard field goal. It fell short enough that Atlanta cornerback Dee Alford caught the ball and returned it 96 yards. Alford came 13 yards short of returning the kick for a touchdown.

Scoring plays:

Bears: Justin Fields 9-yard run; Cairo Santos PAT .. 14-0, CHI
Falcons: Taylor Heinicke 75-yard pass to Tyler Allgeier; Younghoe Koo PAT … 14-7, CHI
Bears: Roschon Johnson 2-yard run; Cairo Santos PAT … 21-7, CHI

Halftime: 21-7, CHI


The Bears' first play out of the locker room was a 28-yard pass from Fields to Moore. There was then another chunk play soon after, a 35-yard run by running back Khalil Herbert. The Falcons defense were able to hold the Bears a bit after that, forcing Chicago to settle for a 22-yard field goal.

The biggest play of the Falcons' next drive came actually thanks in part to the Bears. Heinicke completed a 14-yard pass to tight end MyCole Pruitt. There was a roughing-the-passer call on Bears defensive lineman Justin Jones, though, that added 15 yards. Still, Atlanta's drive stalled out at the Chicago 19-yard line. Koo came out and made his first field-goal attempt of the day, from 38 yards out.

The Bears turned the ball over on downs when their turn arose. But then the Falcons turned the ball over via another interception soon after. It was Bears cornerback Tyrique Stevenson who picked off Heinicke this time and brought Chicago to the Atlanta 46-yard line with about four minutes remaining in the quarter. Heinicke was aiming for tight end Jonnu Smith.

(NOTE: The last time Heinicke threw more than one interception in a single game was 2021, when he did so four times for the Washington Commanders. The most he has ever thrown in a single game was three, in 2018 for the Panthers actually against the Falcons. All these games were losses for Heinicke.)

Chicago used that turnover to pad their advantage. The Bears didn't score another touchdown -- mainly thanks for Falcons cornerback Mike Hudges' coverage on an end-zone deep shot from Fields to wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. -- but Santos added a 42-yard field goal to Chicago's scoring list.

Scoring plays:

Bears: Cairo Santos 22-yard field goal … 24-7, CHI
Falcons: Younghoe Koo 38-yard field goal … 24-10, CHI
Bears: Cairo Santos 42-yard field goal … 27-10, CHI

End Q3: 27-10, CHI


The Falcons began the final 15 minutes at their own 36-yard line with a fresh set of downs carried over from the prior quarter. Six more plays brought Atlanta to the Chicago 24-yard line. Heinicke threw an incomplete pass intended for Smith, then decided to keep it. Heinicke ran the full 24 yards to score the Falcons' first touchdown since the second quarter, second touchdown overall. That brought Atlanta within 10 points of Chicago.

The Bears then went three-and-out, really giving the Falcons a chance to begin a comeback. Instead, Atlanta also went three-and-out.

Santos put up another field goal -- a 42-yarder -- on Chicago's next drive. Atlanta was then down by 13, so the Falcons would need two touchdowns to pull off a comeback victory. Again, instead, the offense failed to put up any points. Heinicke threw his third interception, getting picked off by cornerback Kyler Gordon. The pass was meant for wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge.

The Bears then took over at the Falcons' 41-yard line. Chicago did what Atlanta couldn't: score. Herbert punched it in from the 1-yard line. That gave the Bears a 20-point lead with 3:39 left on the clock.

When the Falcons offense returned, there was a change at quarterback. Ridder replaced Heinicke. Ridder let running back Bijan Robinson take the ball, completed two passes and then was intercepted by Stevenson. That essentially sealed the deal: Falcons lose, Bears win.

Scoring plays:

Falcons: Taylor Heinicke 24-yard run; Younghoe Koo PAT … 27-17, CHI
Bears: Cairo Santos 42-yard field goal … 30-17, CHI
Bears: Khalil Herbert 1-yard run; Cairo Santos PAT … 37-17, CHI

Final: 37-17, CHI

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field during Week 17.

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