CHICAGO -- Correll Buckhalter took the handoff. He thought about jumping over the pile. But the Bears were already in the air. With no options at his disposal, Buckhalter put his head down and ran forward, as hard as he could.
Buckhalter came up just inches short and the Eagles fell to the Chicago Bears 24-20 on Sunday night at Soldier Field.
"It was just execution," Buckhalter said. "I did the best I could and the linemen did the best they could. We just came up short."
With 5:40 remaining, the Eagles were in prime position to steal the win right from under the Bears' grasp. The Eagles had not led all night, but here they were on the Chicago 4-yard line with four chances to punch the ball in behind the stout offensive line. Even with Brian Westbrook on the sidelines because of an ankle injury, Buckhalter had filled in admirably with 66 rushing yards plus a touchdown and another 24 through the air.
On first down, Buckhalter gained three yards to get the ball to the 1-yard line. On second down, Tony Hunt bounced off the line and tried to slip through on the right side but it was to no avail. On third down, Buckhalter took the handoff and jumped, but he came crashing down just short again.
|RB Correll Buckhalter|
The Eagles couldn't convert on fourth down and they now sit 2-2 with the 3-1 Redskins coming to Philadelphia next Sunday fresh off of their upset win over the Cowboys.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb wasn't surprised that the coaches called a running play at the goal line. McNabb added that he would have been open to a quarterback sneak, but it wasn't called. McNabb said that the chest injury he suffered last week against Pittsburgh had nothing to do with the play-calling. However, head coach Andy Reid said that McNabb was "sore" and didn't want to put him in that position. On a follow-up question regarding whether McNabb was testing his arm on the sidelines, Reid said that McNabb's arm was "stiff" and that he "battled through it."
The Bears had surrendered fourth quarter leads in each of their two losses this season - to Carolina and Tampa Bay. It almost appeared as if it was about to happen again. Buckhalter had rushed for 30 yards on the drive before the Eagles reached a goal-to-go situation. The Bears were simply able to put up a wall when it counted the most.
"We got pretty good push, so why not try and go for it again," Buckhalter said of the play-call on fourth down. "They just executed better than we did. It was just unfortunate."
To a man, the offensive line felt as if they let the team down the most. With the game in their hands, they were not able to get the push that Buckhalter needed.
"It's horrible," left guard Todd Herremans said. "Coach put the game on our shoulders and we were not able to get in. He (Andy Reid) asked for it and we didn't get in. That's a terrible feeling."
In the end, it really truly is a game of inches.