DEFENSE, CLUTCH DRIVE LIFT EAGLES TO KEY WIN OVER BEARS
The Eagle orchestrated a game-clinching 16-play 69-yard drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a 38-yard Jake Elliott field goal, giving the Birds a 22-14 win over the Chicago Bears at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday.
The win improved the Eagles record to 5-4 going into the bye week. The Bears fell to 3-5 on the season.
“But for them to kind of take it upon their shoulders; the defense was fighting and battling and doing their part. The offense needed to go, and it was time for them to go,” said Pederson, referring to the drive that took up over eight minutes of the final 8:39 of the fourth quarter. “Again, it goes back to trusting the players, trusting the guys up front, trusting our quarterback, putting our guys in position to make plays, and they did that. It's a credit to go down and obviously kick that field goal and then get the ball on the kickoff. But just a great effort for the offense.”
The Bears came to town touting one of the top defenses in the NFC. The Eagles defense had been decimated with injuries for a stretch of the first half of the season, especially in the secondary. The Birds were blown out in road games against Dallas and Minnesota.
At the Linc on Sunday, it was the Birds defense that, with most of its top players back on the field for the first time in weeks, put on a clinic in the first half and held on in the second half to help secure the win.
In the first quarter, the Bears offense finished with minus-one yards. Chicago's offense continued to struggle in the second quarter, producing just nine net yards of offense at the half.
The Eagles sacked Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky three times by halftime and hit him at least three more times. The third-year signal caller finished the first half with a 53.0 quarterback rating.
“Just really, really sloppy. Extremely sloppy,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said at his post game press conference. “I don’t know how many drives there were in the first half, but I feel like a lot of them were negative plays on first down. So, the next play that occurs is second-and-15, or it’s first-and-20 with a penalty. If you think you’re going to do that coming into a place like this with the defense that they have and that front line, you’re not going to be in good shape. That’s what happened and the result showed it. The score felt a lot worse than what it was, so we just have to be better.”
The Eagles at the half 12-0 at the half. The Bears defense did a great job of keeping the Birds out of the end zone on their first two drives.
Both were long drives (72 and 47 yards) that ended up with field goals. The Eagles one touchdown in the first half came after quarterback Carson Wentz drove the Birds 62 yards on seven plays ending with controversial 25-yard touchdown pass the tight end Zach Ertz.
Replays clearly show the seven-year veteran out of Stanford committed offensive pass interference on the play. Still Ertz was happy to snag his second touchdown of the season.
“I just my number called early, then it kind of caries over,” said Ertz who finished with nine catches (on 10 targets) for 103 yards. “Once you get confidence as a pass-catcher, that's huge. I was able to have a couple good ones early and they just kept coming to me, obviously. On the two incompletions , the corner route, we just missed. That's a play we would never miss. The over the middle, to each his own whether it was a penalty or not. But overall, I thought we were efficient.”
Wentz was 26 of 39 for 239 yards, one touchdown pass and no interceptions. He was sacked four times, several were on runs he just did not make it to the line of scrimmage. The Birds made score 19-0 when Wentz took the second half kickoff and drove 75 yards on eight plays scoring on one yard run by Jordan Howard, who finished with 82 yards on 18 carries.
The Bears pulled off some chunk plays on drives in the third and fourth quarter. The first Bears touchdown, a one-yard touchdown by David Montgomery, was set up by a Mitchell Trubiski to Taylor Gabriel 53-yard completion.
The second Chicago touchdown was again a Montgomery one-yard run that was set up by a 30-yard pass to Montgomery from Trubisky that gave the Bears a first and 10 at the Eagles 13-yard line.
But that was it for the Bears offensive highlights. Chicago recorded only 10 first downs to the Eagles 28 first downs. The Bears converted just two of 10 third downs. Wentz converted eight of 18 and were one-for-one on fourth down attempts.
Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd was asked for reasons why the Bears were so good on third down and getting off the field in general last season when Chicago put up 12 regular-season wins.
“We’ve got to execute and get off the field,” Floyd said at his locker after the game. “Last year was last year. This is a whole new team. We’ve just got to execute man, we’ve got to finish the game the right way.”
Floyd was asked how he felt after losing their fourth game in a row.
“It sucked,” Floyd said. “You want to win every game we go out there and play. But again, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve got re-focus and get ready for the next game.” The 6-foot-5, 240 pounder out of Georgia was asked what he thought needs to happen for the Bears to make a run in the second half of the season. “All it takes is one win,” Floyd said. “Once we get that, we’ll be able to keep winning. We just have to keep working hard and it will all come together.”
* Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii