Bears rookie Tarik Cohen stars as Chicago falls just short vs. Atlanta

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears came up just short in their bid to upset the Atlanta Falcons, but Chicago found a new star: rookie running back Tarik Cohen.

Cohen kept the Falcons' defense off balance from the opening kickoff, using his shiftiness and breakaway speed to lead the Bears in rushing (66) and receiving yards (47).

Still, it wasn't enough.

Chicago’s game plan for Sunday was simple -- run the ball, get Cohen touches, don’t turn the ball over and play solid defense.

All of that happened.

But to beat a team of the Falcons’ caliber, the Bears had to play perfect football.

Chicago had four chances to tie the game from the 5-yard line, but came up short each time, losing a 23-17 heartbreaker at home.

To add insult to injury, Josh Bellamy and Jordan Howard both dropped would-be touchdown passes on the final drive.

For much of the game, Bears quarterback Mike Glennon looked like a game manager -- at best. But he finished strong.

Glennon went 26-of-40 for 213 yards and one touchdown.

The calls for rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky to replace Glennon will be put on hold -- for now -- but the Bears must get better play from their skill-position players in crunch time if they have any hope of navigating their difficult schedule.

What it means: When healthy, the Bears are no pushover. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s unit scratched and clawed until they busted a fourth-quarter coverage that allowed Atlanta to score a long touchdown. And Glennon got better as the game wore on. There is no shame in losing to the defending NFC champion. There's a lot to build on from Week 1.

What I liked: Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains got creative with Cohen. In the preseason, the Bears made sure their opponents got plenty of tape of Cohen running between the tackles, but his true value is operating in space. Chicago called a variety of plays for Cohen, and even used him in the Wildcat to assist on a touchdown run by Howard.

What I didn’t like: Come on, make a play. The Bears battled all afternoon, but in crunch time, Bellamy and Howard let them down. And the pass protection was just OK. Glennon was hit several times in the pocket. Defensively, the Bears have to clean up their coverage of the tight end. Atlanta's Austin Hooper had two catches for 128 yards.

Fantasy fallout: Cohen was a fantasy sleeper in Week 1. Glennon ended the game with decent statistics because the Bears had to pass a lot in the fourth quarter. But receiver Kevin White was a nonfactor before he left the game with a shoulder injury.

Cashing checks: Newly paid defensive lineman Akiem Hicks had a monster game up front. Hicks, who signed a four-year, $48 million extension with $30 million guaranteed on Saturday, was credited with two sacks, plus a tackle for loss on third-and-1. However, Hicks was guilty of roughing the passer in the third quarter. That miscue extended an Atlanta drive that resulted in a field goal.

Da Coach: Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, the legendary former Bears coach, received a huge ovation on Sunday when he served as one of the honorary captains at the coin toss. Ditka -- dressed in an all-black suit and sunglasses -- also addressed the crowd during an in-house interview on the giant video screen, telling the Soldier Field faithful that they “have every reason to be optimistic about this year’s Bears team.” For much of the afternoon, Ditka looked like a prophet.