CHICAGO – The numbers were gaudy: Chicago’s defense ranked first in the NFL in takeaways, first in opposing quarterback passer rating, first against the run. Simply put, Chicago’s defense led the Bears all season and the Eagles knew that if they were to beat the Bears on Sunday in the NFC Wild Card playoff game, they would have to be great up front offensively.
And they pretty much were, all things considered.
In a 16-15 Eagles victory, the offense gained 300 total net yards, including 266 in the passing game. Quarterback Nick Foles was sacked only one time and the Eagles drove 60 yards on 12 plays in the final minutes of the game to score the winning points.
“I think we held up pretty well,” Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks said. “We knew it would be a battle. They have a great defense. I think we did OK.”
More than OK, really. While the running game generated only 42 yards, the Eagles still kept Chicago honest with 23 rushing attempts. And when the Eagles needed it most, trailing 15-10 in the fourth quarter, the offensive line kept Foles clean as he completed 6 of 9 passes for 57 yards, including the winning points on a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Golden Tate. The Eagles had left guard Isaac Seumalo back in the starting lineup after he missed three games with a chest injury and he was stout inside.
“We did real well in the pass-protection part of it, but we have to clean up some things in the run game,” left tackle Jason Peters said. “Tight game, it came down to the very end. Thank God for (Bears kicker Cody) Parkey missing that last-second field goal. We had to keep 52 (Khalil Mack) and 94 (Akiem Hicks) and all of those guys off of Nick. I gave up two pressures early in that last drive, but I held him (Hicks) out of the backfield for the most part.”
Mack, who had 12.5 sacks on the season, recorded six total tackles and two quarterback hurries. That’s a win for the Eagles as Mack played over both Peters and right tackle Lane Johnson in the game.
“I contained him for the most part. We both did. It was tough out there,” Peters said.
Johnson and Peters spent a moment in the locker room after the game to embrace and share some emotion for the job well done, but the team will look critically at its performance and prepare for more in New Orleans on Sunday.
“That was a tough defense. They played a great game. It was a battle the entire time,” center Jason Kelce said. “I thought we should have done better, honestly. We have a tremendous offensive line. Everybody talked about Khalil Mack all week long and he is a tremendous player. We don’t have two slouches there at the tackle position, so I wasn’t too worried about it, if I’m being completely honest. I think we need to do a better job of communicating things. Credit to Chicago for making it tough on us.”
It was enough, and that’s all that matters. The Eagles went on the road and won in the trenches and, not so coincidentally, won a playoff football game.
“It’s going to come down to us, like it always does,” said Johnson. “I love that. Put it on us.”
Check out the best photos from the Eagles' game against the Bears in the Wild Card Round.