In my game preview, I wrote that I expected a tough defensive battle. I thought the Eagles would win the game because they would make one or two more plays than the Bears.
Well, that's exactly what happened.
The Bears outgained the Eagles in yards. The Bears won the turnover battle. Penalties were even. Looking at that, you'd give the advantage to Chicago. But the Eagles made more key plays and that was the difference in the game.
The Eagles were much better in situational football. They went 6-for-13 on third down. The Bears only went 5-for-16. The Eagles converted their fourth-down opportunity. The Eagles were 2-for-3 in the red zone. The Bears were 0-for-3. Touchdowns beat field goals.
Chicago's offense wasn't exactly red-hot in recent games, so I thought Jim Schwartz and his defense would be able to keep them under control. The Bears struggled for much of the game. They used some double-moves very effectively in the fourth quarter and that gave their offense a big boost.
Avonte Maddox was very aggressive on balls to his side of the field. He just missed coming up with a great interception. He wasn't able to get his second foot down as he went out of bounds. The Bears attacked him with double-moves and pump fakes in the second half. It wasn't pretty.
The Eagles played outstanding run defense. They limited Chicago to 65 yards on the ground, and 21 of those came on an end-around by Taylor Gabriel. Bears running backs combined for only 34 yards.
That put the offense in Mitchell Trubisky's hands. He did not respond well early on. The Bears only had 136 yards of offense in the first half. They only had six points, despite much better field position.
Head coach Matt Nagy made good adjustments and that helped Trubisky to really come alive in the fourth quarter. He led the Bears on a 62-yard field goal drive. He then led them on an 80-yard touchdown drive. That put the Bears in front of the Eagles.
Trubisky hit a couple of key throws on the Bears' final drive. He got his team into position to win the game. Fortunately, the Eagles made another critical play.
When the Bears lined up to kick the winning field goal, I was nervous. Everyone was. Cody Parkey is a good kicker. He went to the Pro Bowl as a member of the Eagles in 2014. The distance wasn't long. There was no wind. I thought the Eagles needed luck. Instead, they made their own.
The Eagles had four rushers packed tightly over three blockers. Defensive tackle Treyvon Hester got a bit of push and then extended his arm as much as he could. He just barely made contact with the ball, but that was enough to send it off-course and right into the upright. Great effort, perfect timing.
Initially, I thought the ball came down and went behind the crossbar. It wasn't until a couple of seconds later that I realized it bounced off the crossbar and back onto the field. Eagles win! Eagles win! What a glorious moment.
Hester was the hero of the moment, but once again, Nick Foles was the hero of the game.
The Eagles trailed 15-10 with 4:48 left in the game. They got the ball at their 40-yard line after a bad punt by the Bears. That was the first good field position the Eagles got all game and Foles wasn't about to squander it.
He moved the Eagles down the field with clutch throws. Foles spread the ball around – throwing to Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert, Nelson Agholor, and Zach Ertz. That got them into the red zone.
Facing a third-and-9 situation, Foles dropped back and found Jeffery over the middle. Jeffery caught the pass and used a spin move to get the first down. That made it first-and-goal at the 2-yard line and put the Eagles in position to steal the game away.
A couple of run plays failed, but they did work the clock. Foles threw to Jeffery on the right side on third down, but he couldn't come up with a tough catch. It all came down to one final play for the Eagles' offense.
Thankfully, Never-Nervous Nick was the man in control of the situation. He and head coach Doug Pederson talked on the sideline and figured out what they wanted to run. Foles took the snap and then rolled to his right. Linebacker Leonard Floyd jumped and tried to block any throw, but Foles managed to get the ball just by him. Golden Tate made a tough catch and stepped into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
Foles has a special presence about him in these situations. He is calm and focused. That helps his teammates also remain calm and focused. You don't think about the enormity of the situation. You just go execute, the same way you would in practice. Part of Foles Magic is about making the moment seem easy.
Everyone on the sideline, in the stands, and watching at home is going nuts. Foles is cool as a cucumber and just runs the play. Amazing.
You have to give the Eagles' offensive line a lot of credit for this game. The Bears had 50 sacks this season. Foles threw 40 passes, but only got sacked once. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson made Khalil Mack a nonfactor. He had some tackles and a tackle for loss but didn't get much pressure on Foles at all.
The Eagles were sloppy in this game. Foles threw two interceptions, with one of them being just a terrible decision. There were some costly penalties. Tre Sullivan dropped an interception in the end zone. That could have kept points off the board. The Eagles should have won this game more comfortably than they did.
The postseason is all about finding a way to advance. It doesn't have to be pretty, just find a way to win. The Eagles did just enough on offense, just enough on defense, and just enough on special teams to come away with a tough win in Chicago. The Bears are a really good team.
The Eagles' reward for making all these key plays is a trip to New Orleans to face the 13-3 Saints. This will be a rematch of a mid-November game, which the Saints won 48-7. That was the low point of the season, but also a key turning point for the Eagles. They are 6-1 since that loss.
I can't wait to see how things turn out on Sunday. This is a very different Eagles team this time around.