On a night when Jay Cutler looked like John Elway, and the Bears played the game of their season, the Eagles found their path cleared to the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff picture with Chicago's stirring 36-30 overtime win over Minnesota. Just like that, a win at Dallas secures a first-round bye and the second seed in the NFC for an Eagles team that at one point this season staggered along with a 5-4 record.
Cutler was the star in a great Monday night game. While Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski slobbered over Brett Favre the entire night -- and, OK, he deserved it in the second half by leading Minnesota back from a 16-point deficit -- Cutler kept his cool, stayed tall in the pocket and delivered one excellent pass after another.
On their third overtime possession, after Hunter Hillenmeyer forced an Adrian Peterson fumble that Chicago recovered at Minnesota's 39-yard line, Cutler saw that the Vikings loaded the box, preparing to blitz in anticipation of a running play. Cutler audibled and threw a perfect pass to Devin Aromashodu and it was over. A teeth-gnashing game, for sure. Once it became obvious that Chicago was in the game to play, Eagles fans everywhere paid attention.
Could Chicago hang on?
Turned out, the Bears couldn't. Even with an explosive special teams and a good performance from the highly-erratic Cutler, Minnesota had a chance in the final seconds of overtime to tie the game, and Favre delivered with a fourth-down touchdown pass to Sidney Rice.
Overtime. Pass the pretzels.
Chicago won the toss and immediately reached scoring position, and then the normally-reliable Robbie Gould missed a 45-yard field goal and, well, you kind of expected Favre to lead the Vikings to the win. Didn't happen, as the Bears defense turned up the pressure and collapsed the pocket.
Then Peterson turned the football over and Cutler made the Vikings pay. Cutler immediately goes into the Eagles Fans Hall of Fame, just as every member from the Texans and the Raiders and everyone else who had a hand in that crazy final day of the regular season last year that gave the Eagles a chance to reach the post-season.
The Eagles took advantage of their opening last year, beating Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field. Can they do it again on Sunday at Dallas and earn a No. 2 seed behind the Saints in the NFC?
Isn't this the best league in the whole, wide world?
Hey, it's not going to be easy. The Cowboys are really, really good. They've won two games in a row and have all kinds of confidence. They have the home-field advantage. They have a defense that has been great of late and the Eagles are working overtime to get new center Nick Cole integrated into the offense and Max Jean-Gilles re-introduced to the right guard position, with Stacy Andrews on standby.
So ... the Eagles get the No. 2 seed with a win over Dallas. That is the only scenario worth discussing. That is the only option. The Eagles know it.
"We have to win this game," said tight end Brent Celek on Monday.
Yes, they do. A victory here gives the Eagles something they have craved all year -- a bye week and then a home game in the divisional playoff round. Cheers to the Bears and to Jay Cutler and to a team that played for pride and did it very well in a Monday night thriller that has Eagles fans around the world smiling.