BIRDS CRUSH BEARS, EYE NFC EAST SHOWDOWN IN DALLAS
It made no sense when you think about it. All the talk about resting players after the Cowboys put off an Eagles Division title by winning Sunday.
Why would the Eagles want to go into Dallas next week riding a two-game losing streak with a Division title on the line?
Why wouldn’t the Birds want to go on the road for an NFC play-in game not in first place?
All the chatter that went on during the days leading up to Eagles-Chicago Bears game about resting players seems so ridiculous now.
And when the Cowboys edged the Washington Redskins earlier in the day, taking away an opportunity to win the NFC East and a playoff spot for the Birds, the chatter on talk radio and social media increased.
The Eagles extinguished all those conversations when they came out of the tunnel loaded for….well…bear.
The Birds jumped on Chicago early and often taking a 21-0 lead after the first quarter, 24-3 at the half on route a stunning 54-11 victory over the Bears, sending a message to the Lone Star State that the Eagles want the NFC Division title and wanted no parts of resting players because of a fluke in the standings.
“Coach Kelly is not the type of guy who would ever do that,” said cornerback Brandon Boykin, who returned a Jay Cutler interception 54 yards for touchdown in the fourth quarter. “We want to go out and make a statement and put our best foot forward every game.”
The Eagles (9-6) scored on a five-yard pass from Nick Foles to Riley Cooper at the 9:54 mark of the first quarter.
Then – after a Devin Hester fumble on the ensuing kickoff – followed with a one-yard run by LeSean McCoy at the 7:44 mark to go up 14-0.
After another Bears three-and-out, Foles finished the first quarter with a 10-play, 72-yard drive capped by a 10-yard strike to tight end Brent Celek who coasted into the end zone untouched after catching the short pass.
The Eagles only scored on a 49-yard Alex Henery field goal in the second quarter, while the defense held Chicago to 23 yards rushing in the first half and 127 yards in the air, 39 of those yards in those yards on the final drive when Bears kicker Robbie Gould nailed a 50-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
McCoy led the Eagles with 64 yards on nine carries. He also caught five passes for 28 yards.
The Eagles took the opening kick of the second half drove past midfield before the dive stalled.
After a 47-yard punt by Donnie Jones, who set a club record for punts inside the 20-yard in a season, Chicago was pinned at their own two-yard line.
One their first play from scrimmage, Bears running back Matt Forte was caught in the end zone by defensive end Cedric Thornton for a safety making the score 26-3.
The Birds took the Bears punt at their own 33-yard line.
A 17-yard run by McCoy and a 32-yard catch by Cooper capped a six-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a one-yard run by McCoy. The drive took just 2:41.
The score was 33-3 at this point and the game effectively was over.
The Bears (8-7) did go on an 11-play 70-play scoring drive in the third quarter, Cutler hitting Brandon Marshall for a six-yard touchdown, the two-point conversion made the score 33-11.
But the Birds 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter squashed any thoughts of a comeback.
McCoy ended with 133 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. Bryce Brown carried nine times for 115 yards and TD. Foles was again superb going 21 of 25 for 230 yards two touchdowns and no interceptions. He posted a quarterback rating of 131.7.
“Nick’s been doing a really good job just taking the game as it comes,” guard Todd Herremans said. “He’s not trying to force anything and making really good decisions. I think he’s been doing that since he got out there.”
But the unit that stole the show Sunday was the defense. The Birds sacked Cutler five times and held the Bears to just 61 yards rushing as a team. The Eagles forced three Bears fumbles, recovering one plus the safety.
Trent Cole accounted for three of those sacks and recorded three quarterback hurries.
“When you are up against those type of receivers, you’ve got to get to the quarterback,” Cole said. “You have to get after the quarterback, they’ve got great receivers, Cutler throws a good ball and when you’ve got a quarterback like that you have to get after him.”
Bears left tackle Jordan Mills said the Eagles simply dominated from the start. “They just kicked our ass,” Mills said. “We just have to learn from it, come together as a team and get ready for Green Bay on Sunday.”
Linebacker DeMeco Ryans said the playoffs start a week early for the Eagles and Cowboys.
“We’re all excited, we’re pumped,” said Ryans who had four tackles and a defended pass. “You can’t write it any better. It’s for the NFC Championship and its in Dallas. Our playoffs start next week. It’s win or go home.”
Backup center Julian Vandervelde put it best when talking how the Eagles want to prepare for the showdown next Sunday in Dallas.
“Going in the (Dallas) you’ve got to have the mentality that you’re going to win,” said Vandervelde whose first snap of the game on the offensive line (other than special teams) was a 65-yard touchdown run by Brown in the fourth quarter. “In order to have that mentality you have to believe that every day at practice is the day that’s going to make a difference between winning and losing. For us it’s not so much about Sunday, right now it’s about Tuesday…getting rest tomorrow (Monday) and coming in Tuesday and getting a good jump start on these guys.”