Monday, November 7, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Bears 30, Eagles 24
By Dan Graziano
PHILADELPHIA -- Some thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles' very costly 30-24 loss to the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football."
What it means: The Eagles may well need to run the table at this point if they want to make the playoffs. Not only are they 3-5 at the midpoint of the season, they have head-to-head losses to three teams over which they'll have to climb in order to win the division or earn a wild-card spot -- the Giants, Falcons and Bears. They're at the point where they can win almost no tiebreakers and probably have to go at least 7-1 the rest of the way if they want to save their season.
Dumb mistakes: The Bears looked for much of the night as though they were trying to give the game to the Eagles with mistakes, but Philadelphia kept hurting themselves with mistakes of their own. From DeSean Jackson's fumbled punt, to Jason Babin's roughing the passer penalty on a third-down stop, to any number of poor Michael Vick decisions, and right on up until Nnamdi Asomugha's pass interference with five minutes left in the game and the Bears apparently stopped on third down in Eagles territory -- the Eagles repeatedly put themselves in bad positions with mental and physical errors the likes of which they believed were behind them after two straight wins.
Lousy finishers: The Eagles have held fourth-quarter leads in each of their five losses this season.
No pressure: Heading into the game, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was one of the most harried quarterbacks in the league. But the Eagles were unable to get any consistent pressure on him with their front four against the Bears' offensive line. It may be that they were staying back to prevent Matt Forte and the Bears' running game from beating them, especially after Forte spent the opening drive doing just that. But for whatever reason they could not rattle Cutler, and he was able to make some brilliant improvised plays during Chicago's fourth-quarter comeback.
Shady the star: As usual, the best Eagles player on the field was running back LeSean McCoy, who rushed for 71yards, caught five passes for 46 more yards and tied a 64-year-old Eagles team record by scoring a touchdown in his eighth consecutive game. McCoy finds holes where there don't appear to be any. He keeps plays alive with his athleticism and can turn them big with his speed. If the Eagles do have any hope of recovering from their lousy start and making the playoffs, they rest largely with their ability and willingness to continue to feature McCoy as their star player and focal point on offense.
What's next: The Eagles host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon in a game they now absolutely cannot afford to lose. The week after, they travel to New York to play the Giants, who now hold a commanding three-game lead and beat the Eagles in their head-to-head matchup in Philadelphia earlier in the season.