Coach Matt Nagy confirmed Monday that running back Tarik Cohen tore his right ACL Sunday in Atlanta and will miss the rest of the season.
Cohen was injured early in the fourth quarter of the Bears' 30-26 comeback win when, after fair-catching a punt, Atlanta's Brian Hill rolled into his leg. A flag that was initially thrown on the play was picked up after officials ruled that Hill had been blocked into Cohen.
"Obviously a tough loss," Nagy said. "You love the kid. He worked hard to get to this point. He'll be in our corner; we'll be in his corner."
Selected by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2017 draft out of North Carolina A&T, Cohen developed into an electrifying running back and return specialist. He was named All-Pro and voted to the Pro Bowl as a punt returner in 2018 after helping the Bears win the NFC North title.
Cohen's torn ACL will force him to miss games for the first time in his NFL career; he has played in all 51 contests since joining the Bears in 2017.
Flag day: After committing 11 penalties for 96 yards in their first two games, the Bears drew 10 flags for 80 yards Sunday in Atlanta.
"We had too many penalties," Nagy said. "I was really proud of our team being disciplined [in the first two games] and then we had double-digit penalties [against the Falcons], so that we've got to eliminate."
A penalty nullified a takeaway by the Bears defense for the second straight week. With the Bears trailing 9-3 in the second quarter, Khalil Mack sacked Matt Ryan, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Bilal Nichols. But Mario Edwards Jr. was penalized for roughing-the-passer. Three plays later, Brian Hill's 35-yard touchdown run gave the Falcons a 16-3 lead.
A week earlier in a win over the Giants, Eddie Jackson intercepted a Daniel Jones pass and returned it 54 yards for an apparent touchdown. But Jackson was flagged for pass interference, erasing the play.
No ill will: One of the penalties the Bears were assessed came against defensive tackle Akiem Hicks for roughing-the-passer. The 6-4, 347-pounder was flagged for violating a rule that was implemented in 2018 preventing defensive players from landing on top of a quarterback with all or most of the defender's weight.
The rule was enacted after Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr landed on top of Aaron Rodgers in a 2017 game, breaking the Packers quarterback's collarbone.
"You can't be upset," Hicks said. "You've got to take it because everybody's going to get a call that they're not in favor of during the course of the game. But that's a tough one, man. I'm just playing football. There's no ill will towards anybody. I am trying to be physical. But there's no ill will or bad intention.
"So you accept the call for what it is, but I think I could speak for the people that watch the game and they want to see people get hit. They want to see the quarterback roughed up a little bit. You don't want him to stand in the pocket and go on vacation. You want him to feel you around him. So I accept the call for what it is, but I would hope that we would look at that sometime maybe in the offseason and say, 'Hey, let's let them hit the quarterback for a second.'"
Kicking it: Cairo Santos made 1 of 2 field-goal attempts in Sunday's win, missing a 46-yarder wide left on the game's opening possession before hitting a 35-yarder late in the first quarter that drew the Bears to within 6-3. He also was 2 of 2 on extra points.
Santos is now 4 of 6 on field-goal tries this season. Prior to Sunday, he connected from 35 and 28 yards against the Lions and made a 34-yarder and missed a 50-yarder versus the Giants. Santos has made all seven extra points he has attempted.
Welcome back: After being inactive a week earlier against the Giants, veteran receiver Ted Ginn Jr. returned to action Sunday and made a huge play.
With the Bears trailing 26-10 midway through the fourth quarter, Ginn caught a 29-yard pass from Nick Foles on fourth-and-six, sustaining a drive that Foles later capped with the first of his three touchdown passes in the final 6:20.
It was the first reception of the year for Ginn, who signed with the Bears in May after spending his first 13 NFL seasons with the Dolphins (2007-09), 49ers (2010-12), Panthers (2013 and 2015-16), Cardinals (2014) and Saints (2017-19).
On the shelf: The Falcons played Sunday without six starters: receiver Julio Jones (hamstring), right tackle Kaleb McGary (knee), defensive end Takk McKinley (groin), linebacker Foye Oluokun (hamstring), safety Ricardo Allen (elbow) and cornerback A.J. Terrell, who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.
Nagy said that he used the news about Terrell to remind his players about the importance of wearing masks.
"It backs me up when I tell them to wear your mask everywhere you go," Nagy said. "In the facility, wear your stinking mask. It's not hard. Do it, but don't get relaxed on it because this stuff can happen and is real and all of the sudden you're told you can't play or you can't coach.
"I'm currently at a point where I feel weird when I'm not wearing my mask like right now. But that's real. I mean, that's where we're at. It's too important, and I think we all learn from this. It's a wakeup call that you've got to stay on this thing."