CHICAGO – Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery heard the boos.
He played to them just a bit at Soldier Field, his home for the first five seasons of his NFL career. He cupped his ear and asked to hear more. It was emotion and it was fun and, in the end, it was a win for the Eagles, 16-15 over the Chicago Bears in Sunday's NFC Wild Card playoff game.
"It is what it is," Jeffery said after catching six passes for 82 yards in his first game in Chicago against the Bears. Jeffery signed with the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2017 season, helping the Eagles win Super Bowl LII. "I'm used to getting booed and hearing that on the road. It comes with the territory. You just have to play football."
Yeah, but this was different. This was where it all started for Jeffery. It had to mean a little something more, didn't it?
"No," Jeffery said. "We had a football game to win today and we did it."
Jeffery was largely unstoppable when the ball came his way, and his biggest catch of the day came late in the fourth quarter when he caught a Nick Foles pass in the middle of the field in the red zone to gain 11 yards and convert a third-and-9 play on the Eagles' game-winning touchdown drive.
"It all worked out," Jeffery said. "We knew we were going to go down there and score. We were confident. We were all together."
Jeffery spoke during the week about his return to Chicago and insisted he would stay composed. He did just that and was a tricky cover challenge for the Bears, the top-rated defense in the league that led the NFL in takeaways during the season.
As he talked to reporters in the visiting locker room, Jeffery credited offensive coordinator Mike Groh, his receivers coach in Chicago for a couple of seasons, for making sure he kept his focus on football, not the fans.
"Coach Groh talked to me and told me to just relax and not let my emotions get the best of me," Jeffery said. "Just relax and play football. That's what I did. I was hyped, and he calmed me down and stayed within the game."
What the Eagles showed, more than anything, was a resilience as they mounted the fourth-quarter comeback against a great defense in an extremely hostile environment. That made Jeffery smile after the game.
"We're battle-tested," he said. "We had some tough losses this year – in Tennessee, against Carolina – and that helped us today. We didn't lose our focus. We gave them a few gifts in the first half and we came back from that."
And in the end, the cheers Jeffery heard as he ran off the field into the locker room were the ones coming from Eagles fans who dotted Soldier Field among the passionate Bears crowd. Those cheers are the ones that Jeffery remembers as the Eagles prepare for another crack at New Orleans. Those are the only sounds that mattered on this night.
Check out the best photos from the Eagles' game against the Bears in the Wild Card Round.