Arthur Blank, center, owner of the Atlanta Falcons walks along the sideline before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys cornerback C.J. Goodwin (29) follows on Cowboys onside kick as Atlanta Falcons' Olamide Zaccheaus (17) looks on in the second half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. Goodwin recovered the kick. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass in the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) is brought down by New York Giants nose tackle Austin Johnson (98) as defensive end B.J. Hill (95) assists during the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) throws against the New York Giants during the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
ATLANTA (AP) Let's see if the Atlanta Falcons can put another nightmarish loss behind them.
The team that infamously squandered a 28-3 advantage in the 2017 Super Bowl suffered an improbable defeat in Week 2 of this NFL season, blowing a 20-point lead to the Dallas Cowboys and giving up an onside kick that set up a game-winning field goal on the final play.
The 40-39 stunner turned up the heat on coach Dan Quinn, especially when owner Arthur Blank said it looked as though the Falcons (0-2) didn't know the onside kick rules.
Quinn urged his team to turn its attention to Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears (2-0), but he conceded that it wouldn't be easy to get over such a disappointing outcome.
''You have to recognize the emotion,'' Quinn said. ''Yeah, you're (ticked). We have to put it into another space, but it's important to acknowledge why you're so (ticked). That's the life of a competitor. It's hard, but you have to get past mad, you have to get past frustrated if you're going to have the season you want.''
The Bears have a shot at their first 3-0 start since 2013, though they've hardly dazzled in their first two games.
In Week 1, Chicago rallied from 17 points down to beat the Detroit Lions 27-23. Last weekend, the Bears nearly blew a 17-point lead of their own, hanging on for a 17-13 win over the New York Giants.
''You're always happy about the win, but not too happy because we haven't played a full game together,'' Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said. ''We know what we're capable of if we do play four quarters, so that's gotta be the goal.''
The Falcons would like to second that sentiment.
They appeared to be cruising at Dallas, taking advantage of three early turnovers on the way to a 29-10 halftime lead.
Even after the Cowboys rallied, the Falcons were up 39-24 with 5 minutes to go. But the defense couldn't hold, giving up a pair of touchdowns that gave Dallas hope. Even then, the Cowboys had to pull off an onside kick - a real longshot given rule changes that were designed to improve player safety.
The Falcons backed away from the spinning ball, simply watching until it had carried 10 yards. That allowed the Cowboys to make the recovery and win the game, turning Atlanta into the sort of national laughingstock that brought back memories of the Super Bowl meltdown.
Quinn insisted that his players understood the rules, but were simply befuddled by the strange kick.
''Arthur and I can disagree on how we talk about it, but what we 100 percent agree on is that it shouldn't have happened,'' the coach said. ''We've got to work to make sure it doesn't happen again.''
Some things to watch for when the Falcons try to bounce back against the Bears:
Coach Matt Nagy insisted he has seen enough improvement from Trubisky to keep him in the lineup.
''There's been a lot of growth with him as well in regards to his decision-making,'' Nagy said. ''Let's keep that next-play mentality going, where if something bad happens on one play, let's make a good play the next. He's been doing that. We haven't had that domino effect.''
Trubisky threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns against Detroit and was sharp in the first half against the Giants. But the other five quarters haven't gone as well for him.
Trubisky's completion rate (59.4 percent) ranks 28th in the league. He's also 25th in yards and 17th in rating, with 2018 Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles lurking in the backup role.
Falcons star Julio Jones was clearly bothered by a hamstring injury, which seemed to get worse against the Cowboys. The receiver will be closely monitored throughout the week, in hopes of getting him back on the field Sunday.
''He's a guy who really understands his body,'' Quinn said. ''He'll work through it.''
PLENTY OF TARGETS
If Jones is limited or can't go, the Falcons at least have plenty of other potential targets.
The Falcons are the only team that has four receivers with at least 100 yards through two games. Calvin Ridley leads the league with four touchdown receptions and is tied for most receiving yards at 239. Jones has 181, Russell Gage 160 and tight end Hayden Hurst 110.
The Bears have five sacks and could be poised to significantly improve those numbers.
A big reason is the presence of outside linebacker Robert Quinn. Signed to a $70 million contract in the offseason, he had a strip sack in his Bears debut last week.
Quinn missed the opener because of an ankle injury. His presence on the outside draws attention away from Khalil Mack.
RED ZONE WOES
Atlanta ranks last in the league in red-zone defense, surrendering touchdowns on nine of 10 drives inside the 20. They might have a little easier time of it against the Bears, who have scored on three of six trips into the red zone.
''We're putting a real focus on the red zone,'' Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said. ''We're giving up too may red-zone opportunities and too many points. We kind of fell apart this past week.''
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 8
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy doesn't intend to bench quarterback Nick Foles in favor of Mitchell Trubisky after the team's 24-10 Monday night loss to the Rams in Week 7. The Bears are 5-2 but rank 27th in points per game (19.7), 30th in yards per play (4.8), 30th in yards per run (3.8), 29th in yards per pass (5.6), 30th on third-down conversions (35.1 percent) and 29th in red-zone efficiency (47.6 percent). Foles took over for Trubisky in Week 3 and was 28-for-40 for 261 yards and two interceptions against the Rams. Foles has thrown for 1,139 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions in five appearances (four starts) this year. The Saints -- Chicago's Week 8 opponent -- allow the sixth-most fantasy points per game to signal-callers, but Foles remains a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues in Chicago's stagnant offense.
Atlanta Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones (hip) and Russell Gage (knee) were both limited in practice on Tuesday. Jones' injury is new, but the 31-year-old always seems to be fighting through some sort of injury and he should be fine for the Thursday night matchup with the Panthers. The All-Pro wideout missed the Week 5 matchup with Carolina due to an injury, but he should be fine for this one and he remains a locked-in, must-start WR1 whenever he's on the field as the team's No. 1 receiver. Jones has 16 receptions on 19 targets for 234 yards and two touchdowns in the last two weeks against the Vikings and Lions. The Panthers allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to wideouts, but Jones should be in all starting lineups regardless. Gage should play on Thursday, but he's been a non-factor the last five weeks and can be left to the waiver wire in shallow leagues.
The San Francisco 49ers reached an injury settlement with wide receiver Tavon Austin (knee) on Tuesday, and he is no longer on their Injured Reserve list. Austin was put on IR before the 2020 regular season started. He spent the last two years in Dallas, recording 21 catches on 37 targets for 317 yards and three touchdowns in 21 games. The eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Rams, Austin had his best season in 2016, catching 58 passes for 509 yards and three touchdowns. He has just 15 touchdowns in seven NFL seasons and has essentially become a little-used gadget player in recent seasons. Don't expect Austin to resurface anywhere in 2021 as a fantasy relevant option.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said that rookie third-round safety Terrell Burgess (ankle) broke his ankle in the Monday night win over the Bears and will miss the rest of the season. The 21-year-old will finish his rookie season with eight tackles (seven solo) and one pass defensed in seven games of action. Burgess was taken with the 104th overall pick in April and has the versatility to also play nickel cornerback in the NFL. He's a smart player and anticipates routes in coverage. The former Utah Ute should have plenty of time to recover in time for training camp next summer.
Because of COVID-19 protocols, the Detroit Lions Defense will not have newly acquired defensive end Everson Griffen available to play in Week 8 against the Colts. Griffen's debut with Detroit will come on Nov. 8 against the Vikings, the team that he spent the first 10 years of his career with while earning four Pro Bowl nods. The Lions sent a sixth-round draft pick in 2021 to the Cowboys for Griffen's services on Tuesday, and he'll be a veteran present for Detroit's defensive line the rest of the season. While the 32-year-old isn't an IDP starting option at his position on a weekly basis, he should help improve their defensive line. However, the Lions defense overall is near the bottom of the league in fantasy points through seven weeks, so you should continue to avoid them everywhere.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) could be ready to play against the Miami Dolphins in Week 8, according to head coach Sean McVay Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee was forced to sit out Week 7 for his first missed game of the season. He has 18 catches on 21 targets for 222 yards and three touchdowns through six games and is a low-end TE1 most weeks.
Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't being shopped for a trade, according to a source with direct knowledge Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzpatrick would definitely have at least some measure of fantasy value on any one of the NFL's current QB-needy teams, but it appears he'll be staying in Miami to mentor rookie Tua Tagovailoa. It will help Tagovailoa, but it's a shame for fantasy managers in two-QB leagues.
Tennessee Titans RB D'Onta Foreman, PK Tucker McCann, QB Trevor Siemian and LB Tuzar Skipper were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 8 Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Deon Cain, RB Trey Edmunds, LB Jayrone Elliott and RB Wendell Smallwood were named to the team's Week 8 practice squad protection list Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers PK Greg Joseph and DT Jeremiah Ledbetter were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 8 Tuesday, Oct. 27.
New York Giants RB Alfred Morris, P Ryan Santoso, G Chad Slade and QB Clayton Thorson were named as protected practice squad players for Week 8 Tuesday, Oct. 27.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (knee) could be back in the mix as soon as Sunday versus Seattle, with head coach Kyle Shanahan saying that he was hopeful that they'd have Coleman for the game. The 49ers' backfield has been a constant shuffling endeavor with Raheem Mostert (ankle) and Jeff Wilson Jr. (ankle) both now out of the mix for the foreseeable future. Coleman's return coincides with Jerick McKinnon likely moving up the depth chart, although how any share of carries would be split remains unclear. Coleman started 11 games for San Francisco last season, so despite having compiled just 30 yards across 18 carries this year, he's likely to see an increased role whenever he's officially ready to return. Check back throughout the week for updates on his status as they become available.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Kalen Ballage, RB Darius Bradwell and RB Troymaine Pope were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 8 Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers has not been much of a season-long fantasy commodity in 2020, aside from those leagues in which two QB's are rostered. But after a three-touchdown, 371-yard passing performance last weekend, it appears that Rivers has plenty of zing left in his right arm. He gets a middle-of-the-road showdown against Detroit come Sunday, having had ample time to prepare as the Colts come off their bye week. Averaging better than an interception per game throughout his career versus the Lions, Rivers has rough waters ahead with Baltimore and Tennessee looming as potential pitfalls to his fantasy relevancy. The veteran is likely best utilized in deep season-long formats or contrarian DFS scenarios this Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals NT Andrew Brown, G Deion Calhoun, DT Kahlil McKenzie and WR Stanley Morgan were named to the team's Week 8 practice squad protection list Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Cleveland Browns RB John Kelly, QB Kyle Lauletta, DE Cameron Malveaux and PK Matthew McCrane were protected from selection off the practice squad for Week 8 Tuesday, Oct. 27.
New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman may wind up being the bell cow out of the backfield for Monday's contest against the Buccaneers after starter Devonta Freeman (ankle) worked on the side during practice Tuesday. Freeman exited the team's game last Thursday against Philadelphia early, carrying the ball only three times. While Gallman notched his first touchdown of the season when given an increased role, he'll have a stout matchup Monday, as the Buccaneers Defense has made opposing run games obsolete in 2020. Opposing backs have combined to rush for just 66 yards per game versus Tampa Bay, the lowest mark in the league, capping Gallman's fantasy intrigue, even if he does ultimately get tabbed as the starter.
Atlanta Falcons QB Kurt Benkert, DE Austin Edwards, LB Edmond Robinson and WR Chris Rowland were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 8 Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Carolina Panthers DT Bruce Hector, G Mike Horton, DB Natrell Jamerson and WR Marken Michel were made protected practice squad players for Week 8 Tuesday, Oct. 27.