CHICAGO — In its golden age of comedy, Hollywood had Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, Hope and Crosby.

The Bears have Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.

Nothing comical here, but this young act could become one of the most entertaining among NFL backfields this season.

Their close 23-17 loss to Atlanta gave fans reason to smile and also exposed some serious shortcomings.

Starting quarterback Mike Glennon threw for 213 yards, a touchdown to Cohen, but was sacked four times because of his slow release, slower foot speed and poor pocket presence.

The Bears have no big-play receiver, with the tiny Cohen leading them Sunday with eight catches for 47 yards.

Cohen also rushed for a team-high 66 yards on five carries, returned three punts for 45 yards and set a Bears' rookie record for all-purpose yardage (158) in a debut.

"He's a baller. Ain't no denying the fact the kid is special," marveled tight end Zach Miller. "All over the place, too — in the backfield, catching footballs while split out, then running like the wind."

Cohen is no bigger than a hiccup at 5-foot-6 and 180 pounds with his pockets stuffed with quarters.

"He's a man. He's a man," Miller said. "I don't care about his stature, he's a man. He took a ton of shots and hopped back up. Can't say enough about him."

Late in the first half, trailing 10-3 and in the Wildcat formation, Cohen handed off to Howard on a 4-yard touchdown run as Glennon threw a key block.

"Besides the fact we didn't come out with a win, it went pretty good," Cohen said of his opening act. "The offensive line did a tremendous job blocking for me, springing me for good runs.

"Mike (Glennon) did a tremendous job getting to the check-down and getting me the ball."

Yet, for some reason, Cohen was not on the field four of the game's last five plays when — from the Falcons' 5-yard line — Glennon threw incomplete to Josh Bellamy in the end zone, had Howard drop a pass at the Atlanta 1, threw incomplete to Miller and was then sacked as time ran out.

"I don't feel any type of way about that," Cohen said. "I know we have a lot of playmakers all around this team. Just because I'm not on the field doesn't mean a play can't be made.

"I know the O.C. (offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains) has tremendous confidence in everybody else on this team, just like he has in myself."

Coach John Fox didn't discuss the apparent snub, speaking in vague terms once again during his postgame chat with media. He said he wasn't surprised by Cohen's performance and that the Bears played "their rear ends off" but came up short.

Z-z-z-z-z-z-z.

We asked Cohen if he can survive a 16-game pounding and he wasn't the least bit worried.

"When it comes to playing the game of football, it's hit or be hit," he said. "I'm used to taking hits. I feel like I'm durable enough."

Howard had an OK game with his 13 carries for 52 yards and a TD, but avoided reporters afterward. Was he mad at himself or not happy about splitting time with Cohen and off pouting somewhere?

Grow up, friend. It's a long season.

Cohen likes the Bears' new-found 1-2 punch.

"He's a tremendous player. People don't give him the credit he needs," Cohen said. "He was the league's No. 2 rusher last year and a Pro Bowler. He's smart and quick on his feet.

"Being able to play with a guy like that is like Isaiah Thomas and LeBron (James) right now."

Once again, the key will be finishing a game the Bears felt they dominated for three quarters.

And those silly mistakes didn't help.

Akiem Hicks had two sacks but his 15-yard roughing the passer penalty set up one of Matt Bryant's three field goals.

On Matt Ryan's 88-yard TD pass to tight end Austin Hooper, safety Quintin Demps missed a tackle at the Bears' 30 while flattened by a wicked stiff-arm.

"I gotta play better football. I gotta get him down. I gotta make the tackle," Demps said, biting his lip. "It was absolutely bad football on (No.) 21's part."

The Falcons averaged a league-high 33.8 points a game last season, but Sunday's modest output didn't have the Bears talking moral victory.

They were stunned and upset, clearing out the locker room faster than a fire drill.

Now build on that anger.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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