Eagles-Bears: What we learned

Kevin Noonan, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- One team had everything to play for and the other team had nothing to play for, but viewers of Sunday night's game would have been hard-pressed to figure out which team was which.
The Eagles rolled past the Bears 54-11 at Lincoln Financial Field even though Philadelphia was playing what was basically a meaningless game and Chicago was attempting to win a division championship.
"We knew what was at stake tonight, and we didn't get it done," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "We were ready to play, but we played terribly in all three phases."
The Bears (8-7) would have won the NFC North championship with a victory over the Eagles, but now they must beat 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.
Meanwhile, the Eagles (9-6) were playing with nothing on the line, 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 scenario moot, and now the division title will be decided next Sunday when the Eagles travel to Dallas (8-7) in a game that was moved to prime time.
"It says a lot about the character of this team that we would go out and play as hard as we did tonight," Eagles guard Evan Mathis said. "We all knew what happened earlier today (in the Dallas game), and it would have been easy for us to take the night off, but that's not what this team is all about."
The Eagles jumped out to a 21-0 lead and were never threatened.
"That's a great way to start the game, scoring on three straight possessions," Eagles quarterback Nick Foles said. "When you start the game and you're up by 21 points, it allows you do to more things on both sides of the ball. We got the momentum early, and we pretty much kept it the entire game."
The margin was 24-3 at halftime. Philadelphia padded the lead in the third quarter 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.
Foles, who struggled in last week's loss to Detroit, got back on track against Chicago. He completed 21 of 25 passes for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while posting 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 had 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 a touchdown, an interception and a 73.7 passer rating.

What the Eagles said
"We knew how good those guys are, and we knew they could take over the game if we let them. They caught some passes, but they never dominated like they have in the past. We had a huge challenge tonight, and we stood up and met it." -- Cornerback Bradley Fletcher, on the Eagles limiting Bears wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to 10 mostly meaningless catches.
"See you in Dallas." -- Running back LeSean McCoy, as he left his postgame press conference.

What the Bears said
"They had all the momentum early, and by the time we had a little success, we were already down 21 points. We were fighting uphill the entire night, and that hill got steeper and steeper." -- Left tackle Jermon Bushrod.
"If you had said back in April that we would go into the final game of the season with a chance to go to the playoffs, we would have taken it." -- Coach Marc Trestman.

What we learned about the Eagles
1. When Philadelphia's offense is clicking, it is a thing of beauty, and the Eagles were hitting on all cylinders Sunday night. The key was airtight protection for quarterback Nick Foles, who connected with six different receivers in the first half alone and finished with a completion rate of 84 percent (21-for-25), the highest in Eagles history. The previous record was 83.3 percent by Rodney Peete against the Detroit Lions in 1996.
2. The Eagles can win at home, after all. After losing 10 consecutive games at Lincoln Financial Field over the past two seasons, including an 0-4 start this year, Philadelphia is now riding a four-game home winning streak.

What we learned about the Bears
1. For some reason, Chicago lacked the killer instinct it will need next week against the Packers in the showdown for the NFC North title. The Bears could have won the division Sunday night and made next week's game meaningless, but they came out flat, fell behind by 21 points and then fell apart. Hardly the stuff of which division winners are made.
2. The Bears possess perhaps the best one-two punch at wide receiver in the NFL with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but that doesn't matter much if quarteback Jake Cutler doesn't have the time to throw -- and he didn't against the Eagles. Cutler was sacked five times, and coach Marc Trestman said it was the most pressure his quarterback faced all season.

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