Chicago (CBS)—It was a left hand Michael Vick’s magical touch couldn’t veer around this time. And after throwing 238-straight passes without an interception, the one that broke the streak couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Bears’ Tommie Harris tipped a Vick pass, and the batted ball fell into the waiting arms of Chris Harris to thwart an Eagles’ possible go-ahead score and completely turn around a game between two NFC division leaders.
Chicago scored 17 unanswered points after the Chris Harris interception and the Eagles were never able to recover, losing to the Bears, 31-26.
The loss stanched the Eagles’ three-game winning streak, dropping their record to 7-4. The defeat also marked the first time the Eagles have lost when Vick started and finished a game this season, going 5-1 in those games.
Meanwhile, Chicago, a team many doubted, and entered the game owning just one victory over a team with a winning record, may have answered skeptics by winning its fourth-straight game and improving to 8-3. The Bears took sole possession of first place in the NFC North, while the Eagles fell into a first-place tie with the New York Giants, each at 7-4.
The Eagles were 1-for-5 in the red zone, while the Bears were 3-for-4, and what surely will stir debate this week are the two decisions to kick field goals on fourth down trailing by two scores, with 11:56 and again with 4:52 left to play. Defensively, the Eagles took bad angles, and at times had problems tackling.
“We have to do a better job in the red zone, in both accounts, you can’t have an interception like that and expect to win,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “We had to complete the ball, and there was a protection breakdown. If I had a chance, I wouldn’t call that again. You have to bounce back and rebound from there, and we didn’t.
“It wasn’t the defense, it was everything all around. It was coaching. It was everything. I think we need to obviously do a better job all the way around, it wasn’t just the protection. Michael [Vick] could do better, we all could do better. As for the field goals [in the fourth quarter], I thought it was the right decision, at the right time. I wanted the points there. It came down to one possession. When you’re down in the red zone, you have to score. That’s what it comes down to, and we have a short period of time to get it right.”
On the interception, Vick said he had other options, but “that interception was deflating for us as a team. The interception just changed the momentum of the game. I had a lot of options on that play, so many things, other than the turnover. I have to be better and we have to be better with our red zone efficiency, and that’s been our biggest thing—in the red zone. We just beat ourselves. The plays that we can make, we just don’t make them. We look back at the film and there are so many plays we can make, and we’re just not making them.
“It’s always tough when you lose. It makes me sick, it makes me ill. We’re not going to win every game.”
What helped seal the Bears’ victory was their marathon 17-play, 10-minute, and 5-second drive, which resulted in a Robbie Gould 23-yard field goal with 1:26 left in the third quarter. The series was Chicago’s longest this season, and it served two effective purposes, keeping the Eagles’ explosive offense off the field while building on a two-score lead.
Another key was Chicago’s defense, with the safeties playing 15 to 20 yards off the line of scrimmage, preventing anything big from happening. Chicago’s defensive line put considerable pressure on Vick throughout the game, and what’s more, the Bears did it with a base defense, flooding the passing lanes with a swarm of linebackers and defensive backs.
Chicago sacked Vick four times, for minus-29 yards, but flushed him out of the pocket countless times, and hurried him into numerous errant throws.
Offensively, it was the Bears offense that was explosive. Chicago shredded the Eagles defense for eight plays that went for 30 yards or more, while the Eagles were stymied offensively, having to dink-and-dunk their way up a loose field that had players slipping all over.
“We gave up too many big plays, and the yards after catch was a big deal, it was really a game of us not making many plays,” Eagles’ middle linebacker Stewart Bradley said. “The field conditions were hard to play out there, but they were playing on the same field as us, so that’s not an excuse.”
The key moment of the game came in the first half. With the Eagles trailing 14-13, on second-and-goal from the Chicago four, Vick was looking for Jeremy Maclin in the end zone, when Tommie Harris stuck his left hand up and got a piece of the ball, deflecting it into the hands of teammate Chris Harris, who returned the interception out of the end zone to the Bears’ 37.
Chicago turned the interception—Vick’s first since December of 2006 and his second turnover this season—into a brief, six-play drive that resulted in Jay Cutler’s third touchdown pass of the half, hitting Earl Bennett for a six-yard score and a 21-13 lead.
Forte became the first running back to rush for over 100 yards this season against the Eagles, finishing with a game-high 117 yards on 14 carries, including a 61-yard run that set up the Bears’ first touchdown, a Cutler-to-Bennett 10-yard connection that gave Chicago a 7-3 lead, which it would never relinquish.
Vick completed 29 of 44 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns, one a bee-bee to Brent Celek between three Chicago defenders for a 30-yard touchdown, which resulted in the final 31-26 score. Cutler did well, connecting on 14 of 21 passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns.
Bird Seeds: Jackson Media Snub: DeSean Jackson blew off the media after the game, supposedly angry at being singled out among a group of players by head coach Andy Reid, according to sources. Jackson caught two passes for 26 yards. He had a total of three touches for 29 yards against Chicago. He’s had one other two-catch game this season, against San Francisco for 24 yards, and against Atlanta, he caught just one pass, but that was for a 34-yard touchdown and Jackson was knocked out in the second quarter of that Oct. 17th game with a concussion … Green Akers is Red Hot: K David Akers played in his 183rd game with the Eagles, tying Brian Dawkins for the team record … Akers has made four field goals in four of the last five games and has connected on 18 of his last 19 attempts … Akers eclipsed 100 points for the 10th time in his career and the fifth year in a row … The Hunt Continues: DE Trent Cole compiled two sacks and now has 56.0 in his career, moving past Hugh Douglas (54.5) and into third place on the team’s all-time list. He trails Clyde Simmons (76.0) and Reggie White (124.0) for the team record … It was Cole’s 15th career multi-sack game and his third this season … Sack Attack: The Eagles brought down Jay Cutler four times, including sacks by DE Brandon Graham and DT Mike Patterson. It was Graham’s third sack of the season, needing one more to tie Jerome Brown (4.0 in 1987) for the fifth-most ever by an Eagles rookie. Patterson became the 11th different Eagle with a sack this season … MV7: QB Michael Vick threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns, tying for the second-highest yardage output of his career. It was his second 300-yard game of the season and the fourth of his career … Vick snapped a streak of 240 consecutive passes without throwing an interception (including playoffs), which was the longest of his career … Rush Hour: The Eagles have averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry in all 11 games this season, surpassing the 1970 St. Louis Cardinals for the most ever to start a season … Offensive Quick Hits: WR Jeremy Maclin scored his eighth touchdown reception of the season, doubling his total from last year … TE Brent Celek caught his third touchdown of the season on a 30-yard strike from Vick on fourth down … WR Jason Avant tied a career high with eight receptions. He also tied his career high with 41 catches this season … The Eagles have not allowed a punt or kickoff return for a touchdown since Felix Jones’ 98-yard kickoff return on 9/15/08 at Dallas. Only two other teams have not allowed a touchdown during that span (Tampa Bay, Buffalo) … RB LeSean McCoy has racked up 1,414 career rushing yards, surpassing Wilbert Montgomery (1,403) for the most ever by an Eagle in his first two NFL seasons.
Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito