Saint Nick’s Game-Winning Magic, Parkey Miss Sends Eagles To New Orleans!
Nick Foles and the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles will get to put on their jerseys for at least one more week!
A 16-15 upset of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field has propelled the Birds into the second round of the NFL Playoffs.
Special teams and defensive gaffes inside the final minute put the Bears in position to take the lead with a field goal, but former Eagle Cody Parkey clanked his 43-yard attempt off of the upright to keep the Eagles alive for another week.
Nick Foles bounced back from two first-half interceptions to take the Eagles on two touchdown-scoring drives in the second half, including a game-winning drive in the final five minutes, capped with a strike to Golden Tate in the endzone on a fourth-and-goal.
Once again, Foles was the driving force for this team’s success. It says a lot about Foles’ ability to deal with adversity, playing in an extremely difficult place to win in Soldier Field, needing a touchdown against the top-ranked defense in the NFL, Foles guided the team down the field, and converted on the fourth and goal.
The fourth-and-goal play was impressive on so many levels. Just think about it for a second. The entire season, months of blood, sweat, and tears are on the line in that moment. If any part of the quarterback’s game is off in that moment, it’s all over.
Not Nick Foles. A perfectly executed play, picture perfect throw on the money to his wide receiver to give his team the lead. Several plays before that, he hit Alshon Jeffery on a tough third-and-nine throw. This was a day where the running game just wasn’t working. It was all on Foles to rise up to the occasion, and despite some mistakes early on, the quarterback did not disappoint.
Schwartz and Special Teams Nearly Blew The Game
I thought Jim Schwartz called a terrible scheme in the second half.
Individually, the Eagles had a lot of excellent performances out of their defenders. But Schwartz did not put his guys in a position to succeed.
Schwartz played his trademark passive style of soft defense in the second half, and the result was a comfortable Mitch Trubisky who proceeded to find holes in the Eagles’ secondary and pick them apart in the second half. Avonte Maddox was abused by veteran Allen Robinson, and could have really used some support from a pass rush.
Schwartz made life easy for Trubisky by refusing to dial up any pressure. When the four-man rush failed to get home, Trubisky had no trouble hitting open men in the second half, and the result were nine Chicago points that were obtained far too easily.
The special teams decision to kick short after the go-ahead touchdown and give explosive Tarik Cohen an opportunity to return the ball. Cohen slipped away from several tacklers, and nearly brought the ball to midfield, giving the Bears prime position to get into field-goal range.
There are some guys that you just shouldn’t give opportunity to beat you late in the game, and Cohen is one of them. Giving him a return opportunity was a decision that was on par with the Giants punting to DeSean Jackson in 2010.
- The running game just wasn’t working against the Bears today. Darren Sproles carried 13 times for just 21 yards, averaging 1.6 yards a touch. Wendell Smallwood picked up just 20 yards on 8 carries. Josh Adams was phased out of the offense this week, taking just one carry.
- With Adams, I wonder if the Eagles were concerned about his ball security. Adams had a major fumble against the Texans, and nearly lost one in a crucial spot against the Jaguars early in the year.
- The offensive line really did a solid job against the Chicago pass rush, allowing just one sack on Foles.
- Golden Tate is now officially an Eagle, and the trade is now officially a good one! With five catches for 46 yards and a touchdown, Tate played a critical role in keeping the team’s season alive.
- Dallas Goedert caught only two passes, but they were pretty major ones, The first was the team’s first touchdown to put the team up 10-6 in the third quarter, and the second was a tough catch-and-run where he took a short pass for a 10-yard gain to pick up a big first down on the final offensive drive.
- Alshon Jeffery came to play against his old team, racking up six grabs for 82 yards.
- Terrible call by the officials on the Wendell Smallwood two-point conversion attempt at the end of the game.
- The play was a tremendous design, where the Eagles faked the Philly Special look and had Smallwood take the direct snap right up the middle.
- Jordan Matthews didn’t catch a pass, but drew a critical pass interference in the second half on his only target.
- Rasul Douglas led the team in tackles for the fourth straight week with eight stops, all solo.
- Mike Bennett and Tim Jernigan recorded the team’s only sacks.
- The defense did a nice job limiting the damage of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, the two running backs combined for just 35 rushing yards and 27 receiving.
- Rough game for Avonte Maddox, who was just eaten alive by Allen Robinson, who beat him multiple times on his way to 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown.
- Nigel Bradham played his best game of the year, I thought. He was very active, recording seven stops, two for a loss, and also broke up two passes.
- Cre’von LeBlanc is really settling into the nickel role nicely. LeBlanc made several huge plays tonight, including two critical tackles on third downs, and broke up a pass to Anthony Miller before the half.
- Speaking of that pass to Miller, the debate on whether or not that was a catch is one of the most asinine things I’ve heard in some time. In what world is that a catch? Miller never had control of the ball, the ball was wedged between his body and LeBlanc’s arm, and LeBlanc made a great play on the ball. It’s a joke that that play even went to review.
- Jake Elliot drilled both of his kick attempts with ease.
- Cameron Johnston continues to be a weapon, averaging over 45 yards on his five punts.
Think the Bears regret letting the Eagles into the playoffs?
Does Kirk Cousins lead the Vikings on a game-winning drive like Foles did at the end of that game? I don’t think so.
The Eagles now get an opportunity to rematch with the Saints who humiliated them 48-7 earlier in the season. Since that game, the Eagles are 6-1. They’ve gotten healthier in some areas. They’ve developed more in others.
But most of all, they’ve got a quarterback playing at an extremely high level. Round two of the playoffs is coming. I don’t know what the result will be, but I’d wager the Eagles give the Saints a much better run for their money this time around.