Bears blow opportunity, give Packers hope
Chicago could have won NFC North with win
The Chicago Bears lost a game and a chance to win a division title when they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 54-11 Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Bears (8-7) would have won the NFC North championship if they beat the Eagles, but now they'll have to defeat the Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) next week to take the division crown.
Chicago's win-and-in scenario unfolded in dramatic style earlier in the day, when the Packers lost 38-31 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the final seconds. Another NFC North challenger, Detroit, lost to the New York Giants 23-20 on an overtime field goal, eliminating the Lions from postseason contention.
The Eagles, meanwhile, played a meaningless game, at least as far as making the playoffs was concerned.
Had the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Washington Redskins earlier in the day, then the Eagles would have clinched the NFC East championship with a win over the Bears. However, the Cowboys' 24-23 victory made that moot, and now the division title will be decided next Sunday when the Eagles (9-6) travel to Dallas in a game that was moved to prime time.
The Eagles scored on their first three possessions to take a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. They led 24-3 lead at halftime and never looked back. Philadelphia padded the lead in the second half on a safety and an impressive drive after the ensuing free kick. Running back LeSean McCoy capped the sequence with a spinning, 1-yard touchdown run, stretching the advantage to 33-3.
The Bears scored their only touchdown on the final play of the third quarter, but the Eagles answered with three more touchdowns, on a 10-yard rush by running back Chris Polk, a 54-yard interception return by cornerback Brandon Boykin and a 65-yard run by running back Bryce Brown with 6:14 left in the game.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who struggled in last week's loss to Detroit, got back on track against Chicago. Foles completed 21 of 25 passes for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He posted a 131.8 passer rating. McCoy rushed 18 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns, his sixth 100-yard game of the season, and Brown added 115 yards on nine carries.
Foles enjoyed something Bears quarterback Jay Cutler didn't have -- solid pass protection. Foles was given plenty of time to find his receivers, while Cutler was pressured most of the game and was sacked five times, three times by defensive end Trent Cole. Cutler completed 20 of 35 passes for 222 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His passer rating was 73.7.
The Bears' game-opening drive ended when Cole sacked Cutler. Following a short punt, the Eagles took over on the Bears 43-yard line. McCoy rushed for 19 yards on Philadelphia's first offensive play. Foles completed the six-play drive by rolling to his right and firing a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Riley Cooper in the back of the end zone.
Next, it was the Eagles' special teams that set up their offense. On the ensuing kickoff, cornerback Bradley Fletcher stripped the ball away from Bears returner Devin Hester, and Philadelphia recovered on the Chicago 39. On first down, Foles found tight end Zach Ertz for 27 yards. The Eagles pushed the ball to the 1, and on first down, McCoy burrowed into the end zone to make it 14-0 with 7:44 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles scored another touchdown on their next possession, but this time it was all offense. The Eagles drove 72 yards on 10 plays, including a fourth-down conversion, and cashed in when Foles found tight end Brent Celek cutting across the middle for a 10-yard TD and a 21-0 lead with 1:27 left in the opening period.
The teams exchanged field goals late in the second quarter.
NOTES: DE Trent Cole recorded his 77th career sack to move past Clyde Simmons into second place on the Eagles' all-time list, then added Nos. 77 and 78. Reggie White is No. 1 with 124 sacks. ... Bears LB Lance Briggs started after missing the previous seven games with a fractured shoulder. Briggs came into the game with nine tackles for losses, which led the team and was tied for fourth in the NFL even though he missed half the season. ... Eagles rookie S Earl Wolff suited up after missing the previous four games with a sprained knee. Wolff started six games this season.
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