Unbearable Loss

Coming into the season most people associated with the Bears would have taken a division title and the teams first playoff appearance since 1994. However, satisfaction wasn't a word used following the Bears 33-19 loss to Philadelphia.

"This leaves a sour taste in our mouth," said Rosevelt Colvin. "In the off-season, we have to remember that we lost the last game at Soldier Field. We really got punished. It's going to take a while to get over."

The Bears were dominated on both sides of the ball. An injury to quarterback Jim Miller set the offense back. However, two big plays kept them in the game late into the fourth quarter.

On the opening drive of the game the Eagles moved the ball steadily down the field with a short passing game by Donovan McNabb and an occasional rush by Duce Staley. McNabb's much published "homecoming started off with a bang as he completed four straight passes. Mike Brown broke up a potential touchdown to Freddie Mitchell, which forced Eagles head coach Andy Reid to go for three points. Pro Bowl placekicker David Akers hit from 34 yards out. The drive took almost six minutes off the clock resulting in a 3-0 lead for the visitors.

Chicago's offense was unable to give the defense a breather as the Bears went three and out thanks in part to a Rashard Cook sack of Jim Miller.

One of the keys to the game was McNabb's ability to buy time in the pocket with his feet and finding an open receiver down field. Throughout the game the Bear defenders had McNabb within their reach, but couldn't bring the 226-pound quarterback to the ground. On 3rd and 9 McNabb broke free from Rosevelt Colvin and found receiver James Thrash on the opposite side of the field. The wideout turned the short pass into a 43-yard gain deep into Bears territory, which led to Akers second field goal of the quarter.

The Bears offense was on the sideline over ten of the first 12 minutes of the game due to two clock eating drives by the Eagles. Trailing 6-0 the Bears offense was on the verge of their second straight three and out, but a personal foul penalty gave Chicago a first down in Eagle territory. The offense seemed to be gaining momentum as the unit drove to the 25. However, an ill-advised pass into double coverage cost the Bears the ball and their starting quarterback.

As Eagles safety Damon Moore returned the interception Hugh Douglas threw Jim Miller to the ground. Miller landed on his right shoulder thriving in pain. Miller didn't return because of a separated shoulder.

The Bears contingent argued the shot by Douglas on Miller was a cheap shot. "The shot that put Jim out was dirty it was uncalled for and it's a shame," said Shane Matthews. "He (Douglas) picked him (Miller) up and slammed him into the ground and sure whenever you throw an interception the quarterback is live, but you can't do that to a player." Douglas disagreed.

"He acted like he was going to make the tackle," Douglas said of his hit on Miller. "If it would have been any other quarterback, they wouldn't have moved, because they don't want to get hurt. I mean, let the guys up front who do the blocking do that. That's what they get paid for. When he stood there, I just stood in front of him. But when he moved, I put him down."

Matthews, who has lead two dramatic fourth quarter comebacks couldn't find the magic against the Eagles defense. He was 8/17 for just 66 yards and was picked off two times.

Matthews has been the backup to Miller came back from a hip injury Nov. 11. "It's difficult. I have not played in ten, eleven, twelve weeks," Matthews said. "But I was ready to play. I didn't play real well. I take a lot of the responsibility."

The Bears defense slowed the Eagles forcing consecutive punts. Another 15-yard penalty on the Eagles defense moved the Bears into Philadelphia territory. On the following play Matthews faked a handoff to Anthony Thomas and went to the speedy Ahman Merritt on the end around. He turned the corner with blockers ahead of him and sprinted down the sideline diving into endzone giving the Bears a 7-6 lead with less than six minutes left in the half.

However, the lead was short lived. McNabb continued to hurt the Bears defense with his feet scrambling 14 yards for a first down. Then on two separate occasions Chicago allowed Philadelphia to convert 1st and 15 situations. The second of which McNabb connected with tight end Jeff Thomason for nine yards on a 4th and 1. McNabb then went to his Pro Bowl Tight End Chad Lewis for 14 yards. After spiking the ball with 40 seconds left on the clock McNabb scrambled in the pocket, until he found his fullback Cecil Martin wide open in the endzone. The 13-yard touchdown put the Eagles up 13-7 at the half.

Despite being out gained 230 yards to 88 in the first half the Bears looked to take the lead to open the third quarter. However, on consecutive plays Matthews lost receivers Dez White and Marty Booker to injury. Both returned later in the game, but never fully recovered. White was leveled on a reception over the middle then Booker suffered a separated should after landing on the frozen ground of Soldier Field. The Eagles physical play looked to be wearing on the Bears as Mike Brown suffered a mild concussion following a Brad Maynard punt.

However, a second big play changed the complexion of the game. R.W. McQuarters stepped in front of a McNabb pass intended for James thrash deflecting the ball in the air. Jerry Azumah juggled the ball, but recovered returning the interception 39 yards for a touchdown giving Chicago their second lead of the day at 14-13.

The slimmest of leads did not survive more than a few minutes. After a 15 yard punt by Maynard the Eagles took over on the Chicago 36. Azumah continued his stellar play with a sack of McNabb leaving a 3rd and 14 for Philadelphia. Again McNabb bought time with his feet and Thomason for 30 yards setting up first and goal. Then a rare mental error by the Bears defense lead to an Eagle touchdown. Duce Staley went in motion out of the backfield and was left uncovered. McNabb quickly read the miscue and throwing a six-yard strike to Staley.

Trailing 20-14 the Bears took the ball with 5:44 left in the third quarter. On their best drive of the day Chicago held the ball into the fourth quarter behind the running game. Although, the drive didn't result in a touchdown the Bears did cut the Eagle lead in half thanks to a 38-yard field goal by Paul Edinger.

Philadelphia answered with another Akers field goal extending their lead back to six at 23-17.

On the ensuing kickoff Autry Denson fumbled after a helmet on ball hit by Eagles safety Tim Hauck. Philadelphia linebacker Quinton Caver recovered, but the Bears never did.

The Eagles took over at the Bears 35. Chicago had a chance to keep Philly from adding to their lead following a Brain Urlacher sack. However, McNabb went to Staley for 14 yards moving the Eagles back into field goal range. Akers fourth field goal of the game gave Philadelphia a two score lead with 6:28 left.

Chicago's offense couldn't find any rhythm and the game turned into a route with a late rushing score by McNabb capping his trip home with 299 total yards (262 passing, 37 rushing) with three touchdowns (two passing and one rushing).

"I was excited to be coming back home and seeing family and friends yesterday, and I knew I had to be focussed on my job today."

Sean Landetta ended the game by running out of the back of the endzone for a safety.

Bear Report Top Stories