CHICAGO (CBS) — There was silence, with the exception of a few piercing “E-A-G-L-E-S!” chants coursing through the chilly Soldier Field stands.
Another aberration struck the Eagles against the NFC North champion Chicago Bears in the wild card round of the NFC playoffs.
So, playing January football was a victory in itself for these Eagles, who with a little late self-discovery and some considerable help, found themselves here.
It’s why the Eagles’ improbable 16-15 victory over the Bears continues to be gravy time for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Thanks to a Cody Parkey 43-yard field goal attempt that bounced off the goal post, then the crossbar, the Eagles are going to the divisional round, where they’ll travel to No. 1 seed New Orleans on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 4:40 p.m. The No. 4-seed Dallas Cowboys will play at the Los Angeles Rams, the No. 2 seed, on Saturday, Jan. 12, 8:15 p.m.
Nick Foles’ 2-yard pass to Golden Tate proved to be the game-winning touchdown on 4th-and-goal with :56 to play.
The Eagles, despite playing very strong defense, could have been stung by crucial mistakes, like Mitch Trubisky’s 19-yard completion to Taylor Gabriel in the middle of the field on 3rd-and-11 at the Bears’ 19. It was the dagger through the soul of the Eagles’ season. Three plays later, Trubisky hit Allen Robinson with a 22-yard TD and a 15-10 lead after the failed two-point conversion with 9:04 left to play.
It didn’t matter.
Foles mounted a 12-play, 60-yard drive that resulted into the game-winning, season-surviving play, kept alive by Foles’ 11-yard completion to Alshon Jeffery at the Chicago two on a 3rd-and-9 play.
“The best defense won today,” exclaimed Eagles’ linebacker Nigel Bradham.
The Bears were 5-for-16 on third-down conversions. The Eagles held the Bears to 17 first downs.
With 5:20 left in the third quarter, the Eagles looked in good shape, going up 10-6 after rookie tight end Dallas Goedert hauled in a 10-yard TD pass from Foles. The seven-play, 83-yard drive was kept alive by a host of Bear breakdowns. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Adrian Amos on 3rd-and-6 moved the ball from the Eagles’ 21 to the 35 and gave them a fresh set of downs.
The Bears were later flagged for a five-yard penalty for having too many players on the field, and the big producer was a 33-yard interference call on Prince Amukamara at the Bears’ 10 with 5:32 remaining in the third quarter. The next play, Foles found Goedert, who made a sharp cut on Amos, open in the end zone.
The Eagles took the opening kickoff to the Bears’ 25, before stalling. They took 10 plays and 5:28 off the clock to go 50 yards in settling for a Jake Elliott 43-yard field goal. Foles went 4-for-5 for 57 yards on the drive, converting a 3rd-and-8 with a 12-yard pass to Jeffery to the Bears’ 20.
With 9:42 left in the first half, the Bears tied the game at 3-3 when former Eagle Parkey booted a 36-yard field goal on Chicago’s third series.
The Eagles had actually stopped the Bears on that drive, when Trubisky’s pass to Anthony Miller for a meager 2-yard gain. But what stung the Eagles was Michael Bennett losing the discipline to walk away after Chicago offensive lineman Kyle Long, Chris’s younger brother, shoved him.
Bennett retaliated by shoving Kyle Long back in the face — right in front of an official. Bennett was nailed with an unnecessary roughness penalty, which gave the Bears a fresh set of downs. Chicago wound up turning its renewed life into tying the game.
Receiver Golden Tate’s gutsy 28-yard reception at the Bears’ 22 with 6:40 left in the first half. Tate still caught the pass after taking a big shot from Sherrick McManis, who was temporarily injured on the play. Two plays later, Foles threw his second interception of the first half. Tate later snared the two-yard, go-ahead score with :56 left to play.
Goedert hauling in a 10-yard TD pass from Foles that gave the Eagles a 10-6 lead with 5:20 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles’ first drive that took 5:28 and traveled 50 yards, which resulted in a Elliott 43-yard field goal.
Running back Wendell Smallwood getting out of the Eagles’ end zone on the first play of the Eagles’ second possession.
Linebacker Nigel Bradham on the Bears’ second drive, making two tackles and defending a pass for the Eagles to get the ball back. Bradham later took down Trubisky for a one-yard loss with 13:43 left in the first half.
Safety Avonte Maddox has been brilliant in the latter stages of this season. He defended two consecutive passes on Chicago’s fourth drive with less than 5:00 in the half. A Trubisky pass to Allen Robinson appeared to be intercepted by Maddox, but he failed to get another foot down on the diving catch with 4:31 left in the half.
The Eagles’ first quarter defense: Holding Chicago to two first downs, 30 yards of total offense and a mere 2.7 yards per play.
Cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc pulling the ball away from Anthony Miller on what appeared to be a completion at the Eagles’ 5 with :26 left in the first half. LeBlanc ripped the ball out and it looked like a fumble, but the play was inconclusive, since it was not recovered by anyone.
Defensive linemen Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Graham combining for a five-yard sack at the Bears’ 46 on Chicago’s first drive of the second half.
Safety Tre Sullivan dropping a clear and easy interception in the end zone with :13 left in the half. It could have wiped out Cody Parkey’s 29-yard field goal.
Maddox getting burned by Robinson for a 45-yard reception with less than a minute left in the third quarter. The Bears’ inept offense couldn’t move from there, so for the third time they had to settle for a field goal.
The Eagles’ secondary, which had been solid all game, allowing Trubisky to find Gabriel in the middle of the field for a 19-yard reception on 3rd-and-11 at the Bears’ 19 to the Chicago 38 with 10:36 left to play.
Maddox getting toasted on a double move for a 22-yard touchdown toss from Trubisky to Robinson for a 15-10 Bears’ lead with 9:04 to play.
Left tackle Jason Peters getting beat by Bears’ defensive end Leonard Floyd on an 8-yard sack on 3rd-and-7 at the Chicago 17 at 10:08 left in the first quarter. The play forced the Eagles into a field goal on their opening drive. Peters should finally think about retiring.
Smallwood getting out-muscled by Bears’ linebacker Roquan Smith on an interception at the Bears’ 35, which led to the Bears scoring their first points of the game.
Bennett getting flagged for a personal foul after the Eagles stopped the Bears on 3rd-and-5 at the Chicago 40. The play prolonged the Bears’ third drive, which led to former Eagle Parkey booting a 36-yard field goal with 9:36 left in the first half. It was not the brightest move by a very intelligent guy like Bennett, who shoved Bears’ offensive lineman Kyle Long, Chris’s younger brother, in the face right in front of an official.
Foles’ two first half interceptions — though one of the two picks wasn’t his fault.