Wednesday June 20th, 2018 5:16AM

Falcons escape Week 1 with lackluster win, look to Packers

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ATLANTA — After a historic collapse in the Super Bowl and a winless preseason, the Atlanta Falcons were rather desperate for a victory.

With that out of the way, there are plenty of concerns heading into Week 2.

The Falcons hardly looked like a team capable of making another run to the title game as they slogged past the lowly Chicago Bears, requiring a goal-line stand in the final seconds to preserve a 23-17 victory.

The run game was shaky. There were some costly penalties and a plethora of missed tackles.

Given what happened in the last game that counted — Atlanta squandered a 28-3 lead to New England, losing 34-28 in the Super Bowl's first overtime game — at least the Falcons could relish making some big plays when it really mattered.

"We were challenged at the end of the game right off bat," coach Dan Quinn said Monday. "We were ready for those lessons to come through, but you don't have the answers until you're in it again. It was nice to have the guys battle for it at the end."

Then again, it certainly helped to be going against the Bears (a team that has lost 35 of its last 49 games) and Mike Glennon (who is now 5-14 as a starting quarterback).

The Patriots and Tom Brady, they aren't.

Quinn knows his team has a lot of work on before it faces the Green Bay Packers in the home opener Sunday night, a rematch of last season's NFC championship game and potentially the first open-air NFL game in Atlanta since 1991. Officials announced late Sunday they have finally addressed issues with the complex roof at $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and it will be open for the prime-time game if the weather, as expected, is warm and clear.

It wasn't very good on Monday, that's for sure.

With the remnants of Hurricane Irma pummeling the Atlanta area with high winds and heavy rains, Quinn changed up the schedule so everyone could get home early. Many schools and businesses were closed because of the storm.

After watching the film, Quinn acknowledged the first game was an uneven performance.

On the plus side, league MVP Matt Ryan completed 21 of 30 for 321 yards and pulled off the biggest play of the game with the Falcons clinging to a 13-10 lead and backed up deep in their own territory early in the fourth quarter. Ryan scrambled away from pressure, stumbled but managed to regain his balance, and spotted tight end Austin Hooper all alone in the secondary just before taking a bit hit. Hooper hauled in the pass, delivered a brutal stiff arm on Bears safety Quintin Demps and kept on going for an 88-yard touchdown.

"I felt I lived a lifetime in my head when the ball was in the air," Hooper quipped. "I think I blacked out for a part of it."

In the closing seconds, the Falcons shook off a bit of the hangover from their Super Bowl debacle.

Chicago had a chance to pull off the upset when it drove to first-and-goal at the Atlanta 5 with 21 seconds remaining. But Glennon missed on a couple of throws,

Robert Alford broke up another one, and Brooks Reed finished the Bears by sacking Glennon on fourth down.

"To get the first win and start the season right, it's a great feeling going into next week," safety Ricardo Allen said.

The Falcons will be facing a much tougher opponent in Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who opened with a 17-9 victory over fellow NFC powerhouse Seattle.

Quinn wants much more production out of the running game, which managed only 64 yards on 23 carries against the Bears, an anemic 2.8-yard average. Pro Bowler

Devonta Freeman was held to 37 yards, while Tevin Coleman managed just 16.

The only new starter on Atlanta's offensive line had plenty of rough moments, as well. Right guard Wes Schweitzer was dominated by Akiem Hicks, giving up at least one sack and another tackle for a loss. The Bears officially hit Ryan five times and hurried him on plenty of other plays.

"Schweitzer definitely had some things that went well, but some things that didn't," Quinn said. "We've got to make those corrections."

The coach was also troubled by all the missed tackles. He counted up 11 on the film, including two on one play that allowed rookie Tarik Coleman to break off a 46-yard run.

"That's going to be at the top of the list this week," Quinn said.

At least he doesn't worry about getting that first win.

© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Falcons escape Week 1 with lackluster win, look to Packers
After a historic collapse in the Super Bowl and a winless preseason, the Atlanta Falcons were rather desperate for a victory. With that out of the way, there are plenty of concerns heading into Week 2...
10:22PM ( 3 hours ago )
Tech game at UCF cancelled due to Irma; SEC in talks over Vols at Gators
UCF is hosting the National Guard this weekend, and not Georgia Tech.
4:58PM ( 9 hours ago )
Georgia's Lorenzo Carter named SEC defensive Player of the Week
Georgia senior Lorenzo Carter has been named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week following his performance in the win at No. 24 Notre Dame, according to a league announcement.
2:28PM ( 11 hours ago )
Falcons start season 1-0 with exciting win over Bears
Matt Ryan threw an 88-yard touchdown to Austin Hooper and led two fourth-quarter scoring drives, and the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons held on to beat the Chicago Bears 23-17 in the season opener on Sunday.
4:18PM ( 1 day ago )
Inciarte's bases-loaded walk lifts Braves past Marlins, 6-5
Ender Inciarte's bases-loaded walk from Kyle Barraclough with two outs in the ninth inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 6-5 victory over the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.
11:29PM ( 2 days ago )
Jose Urena beats Braves 7-1 to end Marlins' 5-game skid
Jose Urena allowed only three hits in 6 1/3 innings and added his first career RBI to stop Miami's five-game skid and lead the Marlins to a 7-1 win over Atlanta on Friday night...
12:43AM ( 3 days ago )
Professional Sports
After epic collapse, Falcons hope big run starts with Bears
From billboards to social media, the Atlanta Falcons were the punchline of the offseason following their epic Super Bowl collapse. No more time to dwell on that now. The Falcons come into the season eyeing another big run, and that starts with the opener against the Chicago Bears on Sunday...
By The Associated Press
7:00PM ( 4 days ago )
Falcons' Julio Jones says he's completely healthy for opener
All-Pro receiver Julio Jones said Thursday that he is 100 percent healthy with the Atlanta Falcons' opener three days away at Chicago...
By The Associated Press
6:54PM ( 4 days ago )
Falcons hoping 2017 can erase sting of Super Bowl collapse
The Atlanta Falcons have made every effort to cover the scars from their unprecedented Super Bowl collapse. That hasn't been easy...
By The Associated Press
12:19PM ( 6 days ago )
Falcons cut Hageman following 2016 domestic violence charges
The Atlanta Falcons have released defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman two days after he was placed on the commissioner's exempt list because of domestic violence charges in 2016...
By The Associated Press
9:45AM ( 1 week ago )
Falcons' DT Hageman on exempt list as NFL reviews charges
Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman was placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List on Saturday as the result of 2016 domestic violence-related charges...
By The Associated Press
8:37PM ( 1 week ago )