PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Pinned on the 3-yard line and out of timeouts, Chicago’s final drive looked like a bust.
That was before the audio cut out on Brian Griese’s helmet.
The only noise Griese heard was the sound of his own voice calling the plays, rallying the Bears and driving them 97 yards for the winning score in a 19-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.
Don’t count out the Bears quite yet in the NFC playoff picture.
“I felt really good calling my own plays in that situation,” Griese said. “Before I got out into a 2-minute drill, I kind of look at our play sheet and get in my mind a plan of what we want to do. So I felt comfortable in that situation.”
Griese did get some help on the final play that turned into the winning TD. He ran to the sideline with the clock stopped, then came back and connected with Muhsin Muhammad for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 9 seconds left for the stunning score.
“When we came out in the second half we pretty much knew that our season was on the line,” Muhammad said.
The Bears didn’t even need Devin Hester to bail them out with an explosive return. Instead, the final, thrilling drive was all Griese.
The Bears (3-4) started on their 3 with 1 minute, 57 seconds left and trailing 16-12. Griese completed a series of short passes over the middle that quickly gained yards after nearly 58 minutes of stagnant football.
Hester, the dynamic kick returner, had been shut down on special teams and was a non-factor on offense until Griese found him for a 21-yard gain that brought Chicago to the Eagles’ 15.
Griese spiked the ball to stop the clock and found Muhammad on second down for the winning score. Griese was 21-of-47 for 322 yards. He was 7-of-9 for 97 yards on the final drive.
“Hopefully the momentum is swinging in our favor,” Griese said. “It was a big game for us, but the key to us going forward is how we build on what we did today.”
The Eagles (2-4) have a long path ahead if they want to even think about returning to the playoffs, much less winning a second straight NFC East title.
“It’s a position we’re not used to, but nothing we can’t pull ourselves out of,” said Donovan McNabb.
Kickers had scored all the points over the first 55 minutes because both offenses sputtered in the red zone. The normally rowdy Eagles crowd was lulled into acting like this one was a preseason game until McNabb rallied Philadelphia from a 12-9 hole.
He ended the TD drought with a 13-yard pass to Matt Schobel with 4:57 left.
McNabb completed passes of 23 yards to Kevin Curtis and 15 yard to Reggie Brown on the drive, putting the Eagles inside the 20 for the fourth time. The first three trips ended in field goals, predictable considering the Eagles had scored only five touchdowns on 16 red zone possessions entering the game.
McNabb said last week the NFC East title still goes through Philly.
No way that’s true anymore, not after those wasted chances came back to cost the Eagles.
“We have to find a way to get into the end zone,” said running back Brian Westbrook. “I don’t know what the answer is, but we have to find one between now and Sunday. If we can turn some of those points into touchdowns, we’ll win some of these games.”
The Bears caught a break in the fourth on a bad snap that seemed disastrous, but instead turned out to be only a 5-yard penalty. On an apparent bit of miscommunication, the snap sailed through Griese’s legs and was recovered by safety Sean Considine, who took off running.
Because the ball was snapped beyond a quarterback under center, the play was whistled dead and Chicago was hit with a false start. The Bears settled for Robbie Gould’s 45-yard field goal that ticked off an upright for a 12-9 lead.
Chicago had its own issues near the goal line.
Two of Griese’s passes, one to Hester in the first half and to Greg Olson in the second, were broken up in the end zone by cornerback Sheldon Brown. Griese dropped a snap on third-and-goal at the 1 and the Bears settled for Gould’s 22-yard field goal early in the third.
“All week we talked a lot about playing our best game,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “If we lose, fine, but we didn’t want to have any regrets and I thought that was the case today.”
Certainly, it helped that the Eagles offense continued to struggle. Since scoring 56 points in a win against Detroit, they had only 19 points in the previous two games. They wasted long drives against a battered Bears defense that was picked apart last week by Minnesota.
Instead, Philadelphia settled for field goals of 24, 33 and 37 yards from David Akers and led 9-3 at the half.
The Eagles kept the ball away from Hester, who had an 81-yard touchdown catch and an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Vikings. The Eagles kicked away from the explosive return man and he had no return yards.
McNabb’s numbers—21-of-34, 226 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions— suffered from several dropped passes that stalled drives.
Now McNabb has to lead his greatest comeback yet.
“It’s unfortunate because we kind of swung it our way and we were in position to seal the deal,” he said. “We just didn’t do it.”
Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who proclaimed over the summer the Chicago would win a Super Bowl if McNabb joined them, sacked the Eagles QB twice in one fourth quarter series. … The Eagles are now 8-1 at home against the NFC North under coach Andy Reid.