The defending Super Bowl champions, incredibly enough, aren’t done yet.
The Philadelphia Eagles were 6-7 after an overtime loss to the Cowboys on Dec. 9, with Carson Wentz out with an injury and back-to-back games against the Rams and Texans, both division champions. And even if the Eagles won both of those games and a Week 17 game at Washington, they still needed help to make the playoffs. They were alive, but barely.
Then everything came together for the Eagles. They beat the Rams behind Nick Foles. Then they had a last-second comeback win over the Texans. The Eagles came into Week 17 needing to beat the Redskins and have the Vikings lose at home to the Bears. That’s what happened. Philadelphia rolled over an injured Redskins team 24-0 while the Vikings rolled over in an ugly 24-10 loss to the Bears. Foles played well again, completing 28-of-33 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns, though he left the game early with what ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported is bruised ribs. He is expected to be OK, but his status will be monitored next week.
Improbably, the Eagles are going back to the playoffs. They can thank the Bears in person for the help on Sunday; the Eagles are the No. 6 seed in the NFC and will play at Chicago next weekend.
Eagles win and get help from the Bears
The Eagles’ win was never in doubt. The Redskins, fresh off having their season end when they blew a fourth-quarter lead at Tennessee in Week 16, didn’t provide much of a challenge.
But Philadelphia needed the Vikings to lose. Had the San Francisco 49ers pulled off a win over the Bears last week, perhaps Chicago would have sat its starters in Week 17. With an outside chance to pass the Rams for the No. 2 seed, the Bears played Week 17 as usual. And they are simply a better team than the Vikings if they play all their starters.
While the Eagles were cruising to a win, everything was going their way in Minneapolis. The Bears defense dominated the Vikings. Minnesota scored late to cut the Bears’ lead to 13-10, but that was the Vikings’ only sign of life on Sunday. Eagles fans at the game in Washington knew the situation:
Eagles fans at FedEx chanting "Let's Go Bears."
This is amazing.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) December 30, 2018
Could tell that the Bears scored a TD simply by how loud the Eagles fans got inside the stadium…
— John Keim (@john_keim) December 30, 2018
Philadelphia beat the Vikings in the NFC championship game last season. This season, the Eagles edged the Vikings out for the final playoff spot in the NFC.
Eagles have a big challenge ahead
The Eagles are a long way from going back to another Super Bowl, of course. The challenge of beating the Bears next week is steep. If they win that, they’ll move on to face the Saints in New Orleans. And there will be questions about Foles’ health.
Yet, it’s a heck of an accomplishment just to get in. Foles added a nice chapter to his unique NFL legacy by carrying the Eagles back from the dead to a playoff spot.
The Eagles were a disappointment most of the season. That really didn’t seem to matter on Sunday evening, as they got the most unlikeliest playoff berth of all this season.
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