Running back Jordan Howard exacted revenge on his former team with a 13-yard touchdown in the third quarter that proved to be the game-winning points for the Eagles in a 22-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
With the win, the Eagles enter the bye week 5-4 and have two weeks to prepare for a Super Bowl LII rematch with the New England Patriots. The Bears dropped their fourth straight game to fall to 3-5 on the year.
"A great team win," head coach Doug Pederson said. "A way to finish out the first nine games of our season, anyway, and heading into this bye. But more importantly, I just challenged the team now with some time off for everybody to really soul search, dig deep, and come back in a frame of mind that's ready to continue what we sort of started here in the last couple of weeks."
Howard's run, a 13-yard gallop right up the middle, made it 19-0 Eagles with 10:37 to go in the third quarter. Howard had a game-high 82 yards on 19 carries. After the touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, it appeared as if the Eagles were going to cruise to an easy win.
"I definitely feel like we're getting a pretty good groove with the running game," Howard said. "The offensive line has been doing a great job all season, but they have taken it to another level. They are dominating guys and pushing them out of the way, making it easy for us."
The Eagles forced the Bears to go three-and-out on their first five offensive drives. It wasn't until the final minute of the first half when Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky scrambled for a 7-yard gain that Chicago garnered a first down. The two first downs allowed by the Eagles in the opening half were the fewest in the opening two quarters of a game since Philadelphia beat Chicago on November 26, 2017.
The Bears amassed a grand total of 9 yards in the first half, the fewest output by any NFL team in the first 30 minutes of a game since the Chiefs were held to 6 yards by the Steelers on October 15, 2017.
"I think we did a good job, first, of stopping the run," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "They couldn't really establish the run. But when (Trubisky) tried to drop back and pass it, they had a hard time protecting him. (We were) holding up on the outside, taking away those early throws and getting to the quarterback over and over and over again until they were able to max up and get a big play."
The Eagles dominated the time of possession battle in the first half, holding the ball for 20:45 compared to just 9:15 for the Bears. Philadelphia outgained the Bears 202-9 in that span, and also won the first-down battle 14-2.
The Eagles set the tone on their first two possessions of the game going 12 plays for 70 yards, then another 12 plays for 61 yards. However, those two drives netted a pair of 28-yard field goals by kicker Jake Elliott. Philadelphia finally put the ball in the end zone with a 25-yard touchdown from quarterback Carson Wentz to tight end Zach Ertz with 6:21 left in the first half.
"I think my connection with Zach is always really solid, really strong," quarterback Carson Wentz said. "Some weeks it just shows up out there more than others. When he's there and when he's called upon, I have nothing but confidence in him every single time. Just kind of the way they were playing defensively just let us use him a little bit more and he was a primary, like he is oftentimes, but it worked out really well for us and he made some great plays."
Wentz and the Eagles didn't turn the ball over all game long. Wentz was 26-of-39 for 239 yards with the one touchdown throw for a 91.7 QB rating. Ertz had a game-high nine catches for 103 yards, his first 100-yard performance of the season. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson returned to the lineup for the first time since the Week 2 game in Atlanta. He played on the first series only, drawing a pass interference penalty and grabbing a Wentz throw for another 5-yard gain.
However, the Bears came alive after the Howard touchdown. Trubisky hit wide receiver Taylor Gabriel on a 53-yard pass deep down the middle to set up the first of two 1-yard David Montgomery touchdown runs. The latter made it 19-14 with 12:43 remaining in the game.
"Field position allowed them to be a little more patient and able to get down in the red zone," Jenkins said. "They're a really good offense in the red zone because they run a bunch of things, a bunch of different formations. But other than that, I felt like we, for the most part, had a good handle on it."
After the drive that led to Howard's touchdown spanned 84 yards in eight plays, the Eagles gained just 23 yards on 11 plays on their next three possessions to allow the Bears to climb back into the contest.
The Eagles put the exclamation point on the win with a 16-play, 69-yard drive that ate up 8:14 of the fourth quarter before Elliott kicked his third field goal of the day, a 38-yarder, with just 25 seconds remaining. Elliott is a perfect 12-for-12 on field goal attempts this season. Four times the Eagles converted a third down, including a third-and-12 pass to rookie running back Miles Sanders that netted 15 yards, on that game-sealing possession.
"They were tired," Howard said of the critical fourth-quarter drive. "They knew what we were going to do, but we're still hard to stop sometimes. Our offensive line got a great push and we made the right plays."
Montgomery had the two touchdowns for the Bears, but totaled just 40 yards rushing on 14 carries, a 2.9 yards-per-carry average. Trubisky was 10-of-21 for 125 yards for a 66.6 QB rating. Defensive end Brandon Graham had four tackles and a sack to pace the Eagles' defense. New defensive end Genard Avery split a sack in the second quarter. Cornerback Avonte Maddox had a key third-down pass breakup in the fourth quarter to get the defense off the field. Linebacker Duke Riley recovered a muffed kickoff in the game's closing seconds.
"I think we all feel good about where we're at," Wentz said. "Again, there's things the last two weeks that we've left out there for sure. But to be able to go against two good football teams and come away with a win, the defense playing great, and offensively sealing the deal late in the game on both these last two weeks, I think gives us a lot of confidence going into the bye week.
"We were able to weather the storm with those couple losses and everything going on and everyone staying together and I've really liked what I've seen from everybody and I have a lot of confidence going forward."
Check out the best photos from the Eagles' Week 9 game against the Chicago Bears.