Right when the “Dream Team” Eagles had risen from the dead to emerge as NFC East favorites yet again, they’ve fallen in a game they were supposed to win…yet again. And considering that the Giants and Cowboys won on Sunday, it could mean Philadelphia has run out of chances in 2011.
The Eagles now trail the Giants by three and a half games in the division, while Dallas is also wedged between Philly and New York. At this point, it’s hard to imagine this team making the playoffs without running the table. And based on what we saw Monday night, that’s probably not happening.
As for the Bears, they now have a two-game lead on the Eagles when it comes to the wild-card race. It’s becoming increasingly likely that Detroit, Chicago and either New Orleans or Atlanta will be scrapping for playoff spots in December, with Tampa Bay and Philadelphia having to play some serious catchup.
More thoughts on the Monday nighter:
No way the Eagles deserved this game. Chicago gave them all sorts of opportunities. Matt Forte, who hadn’t fumbled on his last 347 touches, coughed it up twice, with one of the turnovers resulting in a Philly touchdown. Without those plays, this is a much more lopsided game.
Vick was off his game, which is rare for a prime-time matchup like this. It’s something about the Bears, whom Vick struggled against in a loss last year, too. He appeared sluggish when rolling out and seemed to be a bit slower than usual. He also missed on quite a few makeable throws — the most important of which came when he overthrew Jeremy Maclin on fourth down on Philly’s last gasp. Maclin still reached up to make the grab, but the effort killed his momentum and balance, and he fell short of the first down. Game over.
The Philly defense let them down again. But it wasn’t just the run defense, it was the entire unit. Sure, they were gashed by Forte. But that prized secondary was mediocre at best against Jay Cutler and the Chicago passing attack. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie looked like a flag football defender — he had his worst game as an Eagle. Asante Samuel was off his game when he was on the field. And Nnamdi Asomugha took a killer pass interference penalty on the Bears’ final drive. Plus, the pass rush failed to register a sack. No matter how good the offense is (and LeSean McCoy is quite amazing), you can’t be a Super Bowl contender with a defense like that.
But give Cutler credit. The guy was in a groove down the stretch, especially on that go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. He’s always suffered from Jekyll-and-Hyde Syndrome, but he was on his game Monday night against a very hungry team in prime time, on the road. Huge performance from Cutler, who is loving life with the league’s hottest running back. And after taking an unprecedented number of hits early in the season, he’s now been sacked just three times in three games. Things are looking up for the Chicago offense.
In Philly’s defense: The roughing-the-passer penalty that led to Chicago’s second touchdown was one of the worst calls I’ve seen all season. Babin was clearly pushed into Cutler, and that might have been a game-changing play. Chicago would’ve kicked a field goal had the officials kept the flags in their pockets there.
About that fake: Nice call from the rookie, Chas Henry. The throw? Not so much. Hard to blame anyone, really. Unfortunately, it gave the Bears a shorter field for their final drive.
About those Forte fumbles: On national TV no less? That hurts a guy who is pushing hard for a new contract.
I love watching both of these teams. It’s not just Vick, who is the most entertaining quarterback in the league, or Cutler, who is such a risk-taker and has such a lethal arm. It’s McCoy, who cuts and jukes like no other back in the league, and Forte, who is eerily similar to his Philadelphia counterpart. If only DeSean Jackson had shown up, this might have been the funnest game of the year.