Philadelphia Eagles News

Observations From A Much-Needed Victory

CHICAGO -- They broke it down in the locker room after a 24-20 win over Chicago with the most unlikely of heroes, defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, and everybody whooped and hollered and felt great late in the night at Soldier Field. Maybe it was a collective deep sigh of relief the team had after the hard-fought, extremely important victory. Maybe it was the impetus to get this team on a late-season roll. Maybe all of these young players -- and the older ones, too -- will feel a healthy dose of confidence with the fourth-quarter comeback W.

Huge. This one was huge. Ugly at times, yes. Areas where the Eagles need to improve, no question. But the fact that the Eagles jumped out to a 10-0 lead, then trailed 12-10, then took a lead, then fell behind again and then took the lead and held on and choked out Chicago's last chance with a Sean Jones interception off a Jay Cutler interception, well, what can you say? The Eagles are 6-4. They came back in the fourth quarter, on the road.

"This is the kind of win that winners have, that champions have," said safety Quintin Mikell. "It was big to get a win like this. Big for everyone. We just kept fighting. It was a must-win game, and you could tell that by the way we played. Everyone in that locker room felt that way."

Heroes? Plenty of them. Donovan McNabb completed 23 of 32 passes for 244 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating was 101.6, giving the Eagles a 43-1 record in his career when McNabb's passer rating eclipses 100. LeSean McCoy bounced back from a fumble to gain 99 yards on 20 carries, including a 10-yard scoring run with 5:30 to go. Antonio Dixon burst through the line of scrimmage and blocked a Robbie Gould 48-yard field goal try that gave the Eagles possession at their 38-yard line on their way to the winning points.

The Eagles opened the game with the no-huddle approach and Donovan McNabb promptly drove the offense 68 yards on 9 plays to set up Davd Akers for a 25-yard field goal. It was the only failure in three trips to the red zone for the Eagles.

Michael Vick highlighted the drive with a 34-yard scamper to convert a third-and-1 situation, and the Eagles looked like they were off to the kind of start that usually produces runaway wins. Then, on their next possession, the offense drove 76 yards on 8 plays, scoring on McNabb's touchdown pass to Jason Avant, a wide receiver screen set up by a superb block down the field by Todd Herremans.

Then ... a struggle. Every time the Eagles looked to seize momentum, they gave it away. Chicago hit the defense with a big play here and there and moved the football well enough to set up Gould for four field goals. The red zone defense ended up winning the game.

Anyway, it was an exhausting win, an important one. The Eagles played a desperate Chicago team that had 10 days to prepare for the game. Chicago played hard, aggressive football and the Eagles -- battling some injuries -- fought right back.

"As a team, we pulled together," said McNabb. "Everybody took turns making the big play. It was that kind of game. We needed to win this game and we did. It was a total team effort today."

It certainly wasn't easy, but the Eagles moved to 6-4 with Washington coming to town on Sunday. McNabb doesn't have to hear that he can't come back in the fourth quarter after doing it with a great, great drive capped by McCoy's touchdown. Twice on the 11-play,62-yard drive the Eagles converted third downs -- once on a McNabb sneak and the other time on a completion to Jackson running a slant route. They had excellent balance, gaining 22 yards on 5 rushing attempts. The offensive line protected McNabb well and his receivers made plays at critical times.

Then the offense burned time off the clock after the defense held Chicago to a three-and-out series, and by the time Cutler got the ball back at his 23-yard line, there was only 1:51 on the clock and Chicago had zero timeouts. Tracy White tipped a Cutler pass and Sean Jones made the diving interception and a game was won and a season was saved.


  • The screen pass was a real trouble spot for the offense. Chicago sacked McNabb twice in the first half when the Eagles wanted to screen to McCoy, and the plays took the offense out of its early rhythm. Good call by the Bears defense, an example of the coaches making the right read on a formation/tendency/concept from the Eagles offense.
  • Great job by the Eagles on third downs, converting 7 of 15.
  • Chicago nearly hit on a couple of passes in the first quarter, first when the Bears caught the Eagles in a blitz and Sean Jones was late to move over and cover Greg Olsen on a pass that glanced off of Olsen's fingertips. Then Devin Hester caught Asante Samuel jumping an in route and then turned it up the field. He was wide open as Cutler overthrew him. The book seems to be out on the Eagles' cornerbacks that they jump routes.
  • Joe Mays was caught on a blitz when Chicago's Khalil Bell tore off a 72-yard run in the second quarter. Jeremiah Trotter started as the Bears opened with two tight ends and Trotter made the tackle on Matt Forte, but Mays played the majority of the snaps at middle linebacker and had his ups and downs in the first half. Trotter took over for much of the second half. It was Trotter's best performance (four tackles) this season.
  • Boy, the defense had its problems on third downs in the first half. Chicago converted 3 of 9 in the first half, plus a fourth down. A 10-0 lead with all the momentum in the stadium went away quickly. Then the defense shut out Chicago on seven third downs in the second half. What a turnaround for Sean McDermott's group on third down.
  • I could be wrong, but McCoy just didn't look as quick in the first half as he did in the preseason and earlier in the season. He ran very well in the second half, though, and ended up with 20 carries and 99 yards. But, boy, how many times do you have to tell a player to tuck the bleeping ball away? He made the big run in the fourth quarter and then coughed it up, setting Chicago up in scoring position. Tsk, tsk.
  • What a tale of two quarters in the first half. Chicago gained 37 total net yards in the first quarter and then rolled up 141 yards of offense in the second quarter. The Eagles were fortunate to have a 10-9 lead at the half.
  • With the cornerbacks banged up – Sheldon Brown was in and out of the game with his hamstring injury and Asante Samuel suffered a stinger – Macho Harris played the nickel cornerback against the slot receiver and Dimitri Patterson saw a lot of action outside. Patterson was much better against Chicago than he was in San Diego. He looked like he challenged Chicago's receivers more this week.
  • Huge momentum change: Eagles defense holds to open the second half and the Eagles offense stumbles through a three-and-out series. Then Sav Rocca mis-hits a punt that covers all of 16 yards, and the Eagles are penalized 5 yards for an ineligible man downfield. So Chicago begins its drive at its 49-yard line with 12:01 to go in the third quarter and then drives 20 yards to set up Gould for a 50-yard field goal and the Bears went ahead 12-10.
  • Another play to kill momentum: On the next possession, the Eagles are moving the ball on the ground and get a couple of first downs and then McCoy gains 6 yards on first down. On second and 4, the Eagles try a play-action pass and McNabb is sacked for a loss of 9 yards. A third-and-long pass failed to gain the first down.
  • Want another one? After McNabb's touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, the kickoff coverage team allowed a Johnny Knox return to the Chicago 45-yard line. Operating with good field position, Cutler moved the ball down the field and threw a pretty touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis to give Chicago the lead.
  • And on the next drive, Jason Peters was called for tripping, nullifying a first-down completion to Jeremy Maclin down the field. What does it take for this team to play consistent football?
  • McNabb had a great play fake to McCoy to suck in Chicago's secondary on his over-the-top touchdown pass to Jackson of 48 yards. Jackson caught 8 passes for 107 yards. Great to see him going deep again. Jeremy Maclin had another solid outing with 6 catches for 64 yards. Maclin has 37 receptions on the season.
  • Still too many penalties, eight in all.
  • Only three snaps for Vick, but the Eagles would probably like to get him in a little bit more. He had a 34-yard run, a completion to Brent Celek for a short gain and a handoff to McCoy to convert a third down.
  • Understand this about Rocca, who had a very poor punt on the one kick and who is not booming the football down the field: With the starting gunners (Joselio Hanson and Quintin Demps) out, the team is willing to sacrifice some yards to make sure they don't give up a long return. Reggie Brown and Ramzee Robinson were the gunners against the Bears. Nothing against them, but they aren't in the same class as Hanson and Demps.
  • Not a bad effort against tight end Greg Olsen, who was a target on 12 Cutler throws. Olsen caught 6 passes for 42 yards.
  • The defense gave up 126 rushing yards on 20 attempts, but 72 of those yards came on one run. Matt Forte managed just 34 yards on 14 carries.
  • Dominating game by Trent Cole, who had a sack, two tackles for loss and a couple of holding penalties against the Bears. He destroyed left tackle Orlando Pace.
  • The kickoff coverage needs some work. Now, Knox is a blazer and he is going to be one of the best in the league, but the Eagles gave up too many yards to him. Knox averaged 32.3 yards on his returns.
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