With another game about to slip away, Alex Brown stopped Correll Buckhalter at the goal line late in the fourth quarter to help preserve a 24-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night following two head-scratching losses.
This time, the Bears hung on after blowing late leads against Carolina and Tampa Bay, and hearing questions about their killer instincts.
“It was one of the best fourth-down finishes I’ve ever been a part of,” said Briggs, the Pro Bowl linebacker. “Finishing is the key.”
And the Bears did just that. Barely.
The Eagles (2-2) threatened to take the lead after a 41-yard field goal by Robbie Gould made it a four-point game with 10:28 remaining, launching a 75-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes.
Problem was they needed 76.
They had second down at the 1 when Tony Hunt got tackled for no gain by Kevin Payne and Mike Brown. A leaping Buckhalter, filling in for injured Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook, then got stopped a few inches short by Adewale Ogunleye on third down. Alex Brown wouldn’t let him go over the top on the next play, dragging him down before he went to the air.
“It’s make a play,” Brown said. “Everybody was thinking the same thing. I was the guy who got my hands on him, but we had other guys keep him out of the end zone. It wasn’t just me. I’m not going to sit here and take credit for it. That play was a complete defensive effort and it was a special way to end that game for us. It was great.”
Eagles coach Andy Reid considered having Donovan McNabb run a sneak, but decided against it because his quarterback was still a bit sore from the chest contusion he sustained in last week’s win over Pittsburgh.
The Bears took over and Matt Forte sealed it with a 10-yard run that gave the Bears (2-2) a first down on their 17.
He was 18-of-34 with 199 yards and a career-high three touchdowns—all in the first half, as the Bears built a 21-14 lead. That included a 20-yarder late in the second quarter to Devin Hester, who missed the previous game with a rib injury.
Orton threw for just 25 yards in the second half as the Bears nearly gave away the game.
Chicago blew a big opportunity after Payne returned an interception 49 yards to the Eagles 11 in the third, only to have Orton get intercepted in the end zone by Quintin Mikell. After Philadelphia’s David Akers booted a 47-yard field-goal attempt off the right upright four minutes into the quarter, Orton immediately coughed up the ball on a sack by Trent Cole.
The Eagles’ Omar Gaither recovered, leading to a 24-yard field goal by Akers that pulled Philadelphia within 21-17. Another fumble by Orton led to a 31-yarder by Akers to make it a one-point game less than two minutes into the fourth.
But the Bears got that big stand near the end and let out a big sigh of relief.
They’ll take this after blowing a 14-point lead in a 20-17 loss at Carolina, then seeing a 10-point advantage disappear in the closing minutes of regulation in a 27-24 overtime loss to Tampa Bay last week.
McNabb passed for 262 yards and a touchdown and interception, but the Eagles got little from the running game with Westbrook nursing an ankle injury.
“There were opportunities there,” McNabb said. “We just didn’t capitalize on it.”
The Bears were without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who sat out with a sore left knee. They lost receiver Brandon Lloyd to a knee injury in the second quarter and Charles Tillman to a shoulder injury in the third. They got Hester back, though, and he provided a boost.
The Pro Bowl return specialist ran back three kickoffs for 99 yards, including a 51-yarder, although he had just four punt returns for 1 yard. He also caught three passes for 27.
“He swung field position, made some great plays at the wide receiver position, had a nice reverse, he’s a dynamic player,” Orton said. “The more he gets out there the more comfortable he’s going to be.”
Forte had five receptions for 42 yards and carried 19 times for 43 against a defense that was allowing a league-low 2.4 yards per attempt.
Besides Westbrook, the Eagles were without two-time Pro Bowl G Shawn Andrews (back), TE L.J. Smith (back) and WR Kevin Curtis (sports hernia). … Chicago’s Israel Idonije started in Harris’ place. … LT Chris Williams, who returned to practice this week, remains inactive after undergoing back surgery in August. … Orton’s previous career high was three touchdown passes.