Fly, Eagles, Fly. Or, the doink heard round the world.
Philadelphia Eagles 16
Chicago Bears 15
Admittedly, I didn’t give the Eagles much of a chance in this one. The Eagles have been playing the kind of football that got them a Super Bowl win last year. Nick Foles elevates this team in unexpected ways, I’ve mentioned that before. I just didn’t see the potential for them to go into Soldier Field and keep pace.
Mea Culpa. We’ll get into how the Eagles did the unthinkable now…
Fun Fact: Nick Foles hasn’t lost a game he’s started in December or January for the past two years. Cat is 9-0 when the weather turns. That’s good stuff right there. He wasn’t perfect in this one, going 25/40 for 266 with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. But it was enough, and late in the fourth, he orchestrated a brilliant drive, going six-for-nine and taking the Eagles sixty yards to the end zone, capping it with a gritty Golden Tate touchdown at the corner of the end zone. Tate hauled in only five catches for forty-six yards to go with the touchdown, but his efforts can’t be overlooked. The midseason acquisition more than earned his keep making big catches in high leverage situations for the Eagles. Yardage comes at a premium against this top ranked defense, and Tate was able to help keep the chains moving just enough.
The Bears thought they had the recipe with Trubisky slinging (26/43 303 1 TD) and the defense continuing to create takeaways. Adrian Amos and Roquon Smith both came up with interceptions in the first half, and the team recorded a whopping nine passes defensed, making life difficult for Nick Foles all night. But Trubisky’s numbers are a little misleading, as they had several long drives that stalled late, and ended up settling for short punts and field goals. It was enough to keep the Eagles in the game, and when teams hang around, anything can happen.
Sideline point here: When the Eagles won the Super Bowl, I mentioned that they did it by playing with an air of desperation. Broken plays turned into big gains. Nearly impossible receptions. Running backs turning nothing into something. We saw the same thing on Wildcard Weekend. The Eagles were outmanned all game long. And somehow Doug Petersen continues to find ways to get wins out of this team. I should probably come around and say that the Eagles are just good. But I can’t. They just don’t pass the eye test for me. This team is not as good as the one that won the Super Bowl last year, and they just look like they’re getting absurdly lucky. How lucky?
So lucky that the potential game-winning field goal by Cody Parkey after a textbook drive by Trubisky and the Bears offense was tipped (ever so slightly) by Treyvon Hester. What happens next is a combination of physics, gravity and luck. The tip caused the ball to hit the upright and spiral almost straight downward. Which in turn caused the ball to hit the crossbar, and then rebound outwards toward the field of play. The tip was so minute, it wasn’t caught by scorers on game day. It wasn’t noticed until video review of the game later. It was the tiniest redirection imaginable by the leaping Hester, but it, plus physics, plus luck was enough to send the Bears home, and lock the Eagles into a date with New Orleans.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out Tom’s other playoff previews here
Image Source: Getty