PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Don't count out the Bears quite yet.
Desperately needing a victory to stay in the NFC hunt, Chicago's Brian Griese connected with Muhsin Muhammad for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 9 seconds left to lift the Bears to a 19-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.
The Bears didn't even need Devin Hester to bail them out of a jam with an explosive return. Instead, the final, thrilling drive was all Griese.
The Bears (3-4) were pinned on the 3-yard line with 1:57 left and trailing 16-12. Griese completed a series of short passes over the middle that got the Bears quickly gaining yards after nearly 58 minutes of nothing but stagnant football.
Hester, the dynamic kick returner, had been shut down on special teams and was a non-factor on offense until Griese found him for a 21-yard gain that brought Chicago to the 15 of Philadelphia.
Griese spiked the ball to stop the clock and found Muhammad on second down for the winning score. Griese was 21-of-47 for 322 yards.
The Eagles (2-4) have a long path ahead if they want to even think about returning to the playoffs, much less winning a second straight NFC East title.
Kickers had scored all the points over the first 55 minutes because both offenses sputtered in the red zone. The normally rowdy Eagles crowd was lulled into acting like this one was a preseason game until Donovan McNabb rallied Philadelphia from a 12-9 hole.
WR Muhsin Muhammad
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
He ended the TD drought with a 13-yard pass to Matt Schobel with 4:57 left.
McNabb completed passes of 23 yards to Kevin Curtis and 15 yards to Reggie Brown on the drive, putting the Eagles inside the 20 for the fourth time. The first three trips ended in field goals, predictable considering the Eagles had scored only five touchdowns on 19 red zone possessions entering the game.
Those wasted chances came back to cost the Eagles.
The Bears caught a break in the fourth on a bad snap that seemed disastrous, but instead turned out to be only a 5-yard penalty. On an apparent bit of miscommunication, Olin Kreutz's snap sailed past Griese and was recovered by safety Sean Considine, who took off running.
Because the ball was snapped beyond a quarterback under center, the play was whistled dead and Chicago was hit with a false start. The Bears settled for Robbie Gould's 45-yard field goal that ticked off an upright for a 12-9 lead.
Chicago had its own issues near the goal line.
Two of Griese's passes, one to Hester in the first half and to Greg Olsen in the second, were broken up in the end zone by cornerback Sheldon Brown. Griese dropped a snap on 3rd-and-goal at the 1, and the Bears settled for Gould's 22-yard field goal early in the third.
Not that the Eagles offense was doing anything thrilling. Their offense has been downright sluggish since scoring 56 points in a win against Detroit. They scored only 19 points in the last two games combined and wasted long drives against a battered Bears defense that was picked apart last week by Minnesota.
Instead, Philadelphia settled for field goals of 24, 33 and 37 yards from David Akers and led 9-3 at the half.
The Eagles kept the ball away from Hester, who had an 81-yard touchdown catch and an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Vikings. The Eagles kicked away from the explosive return man, and he had no return yards.
McNabb's numbers – 21-of-34, 226 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions – suffered from several dropped passes that stalled drives.
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