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Philadelphia (CBS)—The Eagles have a video-game team. It’s explosive. It’s fast. It can score, it seems, almost at will. Its defense is erratic, sporadically cartoonish. The only thing missing is the pause button after the third quarter. Too bad it’s not available.
Because for the fourth time this season, the Eagles lost a game by losing a fourth-quarter lead, this time to the Chicago Bears, 30-24, on Monday night before a national audience at Lincoln Financial Field.
These last four weeks the Eagles have been tip-toeing a narrow precipice that was bound to tighten. The Eagles flirted on the brink through the first five games, starting 1-4. They managed to extend the ledge a few inches, convincing themselves that they weren’t in any real danger of falling with a pair of victories over mediocre teams.
Then the Bears arrived with a violent shove, forcing the Eagles to tumble into an abyss they now should fear. Philadelphia fell to 3-5 at the midway point, three games behind the NFC East-leading 6-2 New York Giants.
The loss makes it very remote that the Eagles can regroup and have any chance of reaching the postseason. That road ahead just became a little bumpier for the Eagles, and for head coach Andy Reid.
Chicago’s electric tailback Matt Forte ran over, through and around the Eagles’ defense, which had been showing some signs of life the previous two games, for a game-high 125 yards on 25 carries. The Eagles’ LeSean McCoy, meanwhile, was contained by the suffocating Chicago defense for 71 yards on 16 carries—the bulk of that coming on a 33-yard, third-quarter touchdown run.
Michael Vick finished completing 21 of 37 passes for 213 yards and an interception. DeSean Jackson had eight passes thrown his way. He caught two for 16 yards, and his fumble late in the second quarter led to a Bears’ 17-10 halftime lead.
The Eagles didn’t help themselves, nor receive too much help. A botched fake punt early in the fourth quarter, a dubious personal foul penalty on Jason Babin near the end of the first half and some shoddy defense in the fourth quarter all led to the Eagles’ demise.
The Babin penalty carried a hefty sting.
On a third-and-goal at the Eagles’ four with less than a minute in the half, Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler tossed an incomplete pass intended for Forte, when Babin appeared to be blocked into Cutler and was flagged for roughing the passer. It gave the Bears a fresh set of downs, and Chicago capitalized on Marion Barber’s two-yard touchdown.
“I was more than surprised by [that call],” Babin said. “I was pushed into [Cutler], that’s why I was so angry. I thought the call was going to be against [Bears’ center Chris Spencer] for pushing me from behind. No one is perfect, but I thought the play was a big turning point in the game.”
What also didn’t help was the dead atmosphere of Lincoln Financial Field. That may have translated to the lethargic way the Eagles came out.
“I thought we had the energy, we just weren’t hitting and clicking,” Reid said. “I don’t think it was a matter of energy. We just made too many mistakes.”
The Eagles did have a chance to win the game with 3:51 to play. After Robbie Gould’s 22-yard field goal gave Chicago a 30-24 edge, the Eagles took control at their 37. The Birds reached the Chicago 39, but their last gasp on a fourth-and-10 on the Bears’ 39 fell short, when Vick connected with Jeremy Maclin, who slid down at the Chicago 31, giving the Bears possession with less than two minutes to play.
The Eagles’ ongoing inability to finish teams stirred a string of blank expressions in the Eagles’ locker room after the game. It left some players groping for answers.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Jackson replied, when asked about the troubling fourth quarter. “I think in our powers and in our mind, we want to go out there and succeed and do everything the correct way, but at the end of the day, it’s human nature. Sometimes things don’t always go the way we plan or the way we practice, so sometimes when we get to the game, you may have a different look or a different play. We just try to keep plugging away and doing what we need to do.”
Asked if this was it, if this loss really placed the Eagles in an impossible spot to make the playoffs, Jackson snapped back, “Not at all, not in my mind, maybe your’s. We have to keep fighting. People have been counting us out all year.”
After this setback, the Eagles’ 2011 season definitely appears on the clock.
RB LeSean McCoy has scored a touchdown in all eight games, which is tied for the longest streak in team history with Steve Van Buren (eight in 1947). The last NFL running back with a touchdown in each of the first eight games of the season was Emmitt Smith in 1999 … McCoy is the NFL’s leading rusher this season with 825 and nine rushing scores. He is also tied for the NFL lead with 11 total touchdowns. His rushing total is the highest ever by an Eagle in the first eight games of the season … With 3,626 career scrimmage yards, McCoy surpassed Wilbert Montgomery (3,622) for the most ever by an Eagle in his first three seasons … The Eagles have accumulated 3,475 total net yards this season, which is the most ever by an Eagles team through the first eight games of the season, and the seventh-highest total in the NFL since 1940. The St. Louis Rams (3,931 in 2000) hold the NFL record, followed by the LA Rams (3,772 in 1951), San Diego Chargers (3,610 in 1982), New Orleans Saints (3,553 in 2011), New England Patriots (3,516 in 2007) and Houston Oilers (3,508 in 1961) … TE Brent Celek led the team with seven receptions and 60 yards. He has now posted 18 receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns in the last three games. The only other time Celek has had seven or more catches in back-to-back games was 9/20/09 vs. New Orleans and 9/27/09 vs. Kansas City … RB Ronnie Brown scored his first touchdown of the season … The Eagles 15-play touchdown drive to open the third quarter was their longest of the season … The Eagles have converted 15 of 26 third down opportunities over the last two games (57.7%) … LB Brian Rolle stripped the ball from Matt Forte and ran it back for his first-career touchdown and the first by an Eagles linebacker since Will Witherspoon’s nine-yard interception return on 10/26/09 at Washington. The last Eagles rookie to score on a fumble recovery was Kevin Johnson on 10/29/95 vs. St. Louis … DE Trent Cole also jarred the ball loose from Forte, which was recovered by DT Mike Patterson and led to an Eagles touchdown … Andy Reid patrolled the sidelines for his 200th regular season game tonight, becoming the 31st head coach in NFL history to reach that plateau and just the 13th to do so with one franchise, joining George Halas (CHI), Don Shula (MIA), Tom Landry (DAL), Curly Lambeau (GB), Chuck Noll (PIT), Mike Shanahan (DEN), Steve Owen (NYG), Jeff Fisher (HOU/TEN), Bud Grant (MIN), Joe Gibbs (WAS), Bill Cowher (PIT), and Hank Stram (KC) … DE Trent Cole played in his 100th NFL game … K Alex Henery connected on a career-long 47-yard field goal attempt.
Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito