NFC East: Tommie Harris
The Philadelphia Eagles were poised to take the lead over the Chicago Bears late in the first half. If the Eagles had scored a touchdown to make it 20-14, they would've had all of the momentum. The Bears had held them to a field goal on the previous possession, but it was obvious the Eagles were moving the ball at will.
On second-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Vick attempted to throw to Jeremy Maclin on a slant route. Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris tipped the pass and safety Chris Harris picked it off and returned the ball 39 yards. It was a huge mistake in the game, and the Bears seized the momentum with a quick scoring drive to take a 21-13 lead.
The Eagles abandoned any semblance of a running game in the second half, so the Bears focused on dropping everyone into coverage. Vick has done a remarkable job protecting the ball this season, but he was careless in Sunday's loss. He fumbled the ball four times, although the Eagles recovered every time. The Bears got great penetration on that second-and-goal play, so it would've been wise to improvise. It's not like Harris barely got a finger on the ball. He had blown through the Eagles' offensive line.
"First of all, we have to complete the ball," Reid said after the game. "That's what we've got to do. There was a protection breakdown ... Obviously, if I had to do it again, I wouldn't call that play. I would call something else."
It was certainly the decisive moment in that game. The Eagles hope it won't be the decisive play of their season.
What it means: The Eagles fell to 7-4 with this loss and are now tied with the New York Giants atop the NFC East. The Bears had arrived at 7-3 with an easy schedule, but they were impressive in beating the Eagles. Coach Andy Reid attempted to get back in the game by kicking field goals in the fourth quarter, but it only put off the inevitable. The Bears served notice that they could be a force in the NFC.
How did this happen? The Eagles were getting a lot of pressure on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler early, but offensive coordinator Mike Martz did a nice job of changing his approach. Cutler started taking three-step drops and delivering short passes to his running backs and receivers. The Eagles did a pitiful job of tackling. They made Earl Bennett look like a Pro Bowl player as he broke tackles and destroyed Philadelphia in the red zone. And for the first time this season, the Eagles allowed a running back to surpass 100 yards. Bears running back Matt Forte had a 61-yard gain early in the game and he continued to gash the Eagles throughout the game.
The play that changed everything: Trailing 14-13, the Eagles drove deep into Bears territory in the second quarter. But quarterback Michael Vick threw a lazy pass that was tipped by Tommie Harris and intercepted by Chris Harris. The Bears stole all the momentum on that play and never really looked back. The Bears scored at the end of the first half to take a 21-13 lead.
What's next: The Eagles have to immediately get ready for a Thursday home game against the Houston Texans. You can overcome this loss, but dropping a game to the Texans could be devastating. It felt like the Eagles were standing around waiting for Vick to do something in this game. But the Bears' defense proved that Vick is not invincible. He actually finished 29 of 44 for 333 yards, two touchdowns and the one interception. But a lot of those yards came after the game had been decided. And the interception changed everything. The Bears sacked Vick four times and caused him to run for his life. It was an excellent game plan by Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
If you're like me this morning, you're mixing in a little U.S Open coverage (live on ESPN360.com) with your daily NFL reading. And in case you haven't discovered it yet, ESPN.com's Jason Sobel is belting out an outstanding live blog.
I was rooting for the Cinderella story, David Duval, but it appears that the former No. 1 golfer in the world is looking more like No. 882, which is his current ranking. And Ricky Barnes is currently in full-on meltdown mode. If Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson could make any kind of a run, they'd have a chance. OK, here's the NFL tie-in: Dallas' Anthony Kim, currently tied for 14th in the U.S. Open, is good pals with Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
In other news, our friends at Football Outsiders have come up with a list of the 10 most irreplaceable players in the NFL. They took into account a lot of numbers I don't understand, depth charts and schemes. Most people have to pay to see this list, but I'll give you a little sneak peek -- minus Bill Barnwell's explanations.
Obviously, Ware was the only representative from the Beast. Barnwell called Ware the "best two-way defender in the league."