Soldier Field played host to the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday as the Chicago Bears looked to march forth toward Atlanta. That said, their opponents were no easy challenge, with Nick Foles once again leading the reigning Super Bowl Champs.
In what was a largely shaky encounter in the first half, the game came to life by the second, albeit still lacking in points.
Somewhat remarkably, the Eagles kept their fairytale story alive, capturing the 15-16 victory in epic fashion. Thus, without further ado, let’s breakdown exactly what just happened.
The Cinderella Story Of The Year
Nick Foles’ eagerly anticipated return to the playoffs fell short of his usual execution, but was more than adequate. In the game, he compiled 266 yards and 2 touchdowns on 25 completions, whilst conceding 2 interceptions. As previously alluded to, it was far from perfect. That said however, Foles demonstrated resiliency in the pocket, withstanding multiple hits in the backfield. More importantly, he also maintained a relatively solid completion percentage of 63% in spite of the two INT’s.
In terms of the ground game the Eagles were fairly flat. Darren Sproles lead the team with 13 carries for 21 yards, whilst Wendell Smallwood added 20 yards on 8 carries. On the other hand, the Eagles never really intended on running the ball down the throats of this talented Bears D-line, and rightly so.
For the umpteenth time in recent weeks Alshon Jeffrey was immense when partnered with Foles. He averaged 13.7 yards per reception, accumulating 82 yards on 6 catches. In addition, Golden Tate earned his paycheque as he captured the game-winning touchdown.
Defensively, the Eagles were fantastic at times and dreadful at others. Perhaps the greatest example of this form was Avonte Maddox who was superb in the first half, yet was often burnt on several plays in the second. Most notably Allen Robinson’s touchdown reception. Nevertheless, the Eagles were relentless in the trenches, with both Timmy Jernigan and Michael Bennett notching a sack each.
My man of the match nomination falls to none other than Rasul Douglas. Simply put, he was a lock at the corner position, whilst also being the leading tackler on the day. This has become an all too familiar sight for Douglas, as for four consecutive weeks he has been the leading tackler in each game.
Bears Downed In Chicago
The 2018 NFL playoffs won’t be the same without the Bears, who are truly an exceptional team. Unfortunately that’s the cut-throat nature of the NFL; someone has to lose at the end of the day.
Regardless, let’s begin our analysis of the Bears with Mitchell Trubisky. He completed 60% of his throws (26/43) for 303 yards and 1 touchdown on the night. Additionally, he also snagged 9 rushing yards. Overall, it was a fairly average display from Trubisky, who appeared to limp intermittently throughout. Arguably the biggest factor in his downfall was the lack of rushing he actually conducted, this being something the Eagles defence actively succeeded in preventing.
The Bears’ run game was also trampled upon all game long. As a unit they amassed just 66 yards collectively with Jordan Howard contributing 35 of those. Taylor Gabriel also experienced success on 2 end arounds, averaging 10 yards per attempt.
Chicago’s MVP of the game, Allen Robinson, crushed it on the night. He recorded 143 yards and the only TD catch on 10 receptions, averaging 14.3 yards per catch.
Perhaps the Eagles’ greatest success in the game was their ability to limit the pass rush. Leonard Floyd produced the only sack for the Bears, as Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks were prevented from crossing the line of scrimmage for much of the night. Although the aforementioned Mack did nail 6 tackles and 1 QB hit to his résumé, often stuffing the Eagles’ weak run game. Finally, Roquan Smith and Adrian Amos also came up with an interception each, as alluded to earlier.
The Kicking Curse Continues
Purposely I’ve left out the most important detail of the game – how the Bears actually lost. After the Eagles failed to convert their 2-point conversion with less than a minute left on the clock, Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears marched their way upfield. There they granted Cody Parkey with a 43-yard field goal attempt and having already made good on 3 FG’s prior, it looked a certainty to clinch a win for the Bears. That never came however, as Parkey’s kick nailed the left upright, bouncing off the crossbar and out. It was officially no good, and just like that, the Bears’ season was over.
When addressing the media after the game he said: “There’s really no answer to it. I thought I hit a good ball.” He added: “It’s one of the worst feeling in the world to let your team down. I feel terrible.”
The Philadelphia Eagles Advance
For the Chicago Bears, their season is officially over. It’s been a fantastic year for the franchise who clinched their first divisional trophy in ten years. Although the pain of missing out on the Divisional round will linger for some time, they should be proud of their efforts.
Oppositely, the Philadelphia Eagles now must travel to Louisiana to face the New Orleans Saints. As always, the Eagles enter as underdogs, and honestly they wouldn’t have it any other way.
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