The Eagles entered Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears with a chance to climb out of the early-season hole they have dug for themselves, but after a heartbreaking 19-16 loss, all they managed to do was dig a little deeper.
In the final two minutes of the game, Philadelphia (2-4) was stunned as they watched Brian Griese lead a 97-yard comeback drive on a day when points were at a premium for both teams. Both offenses managed only field goals for the first three quarters, and both the Eagles and the Bears looked stagnant when they had possession.
After failing to sustain drives all game and settling for three field goals from David Akers, the Eagles finally got into the end zone when Donovan McNabb hit Matt Schobel from 14 yards in the back of the end zone with under five minutes left to play in the fourth quarter. After the score, the Bears looked deflated on their next drive and went three and out.
When the Eagles got possession of the ball again, they were inconsistent and paid the price. Philadelphia's last drive could have run down significant time on the clock, but a sack by Adam Archuleta and a holding penalty on Todd Herremans made things much harder.
“It comes down to performing in games,” said Brian Westbrook, who had 79 yards rushing on 18 carries along with six catches for 40 yards. “When it comes to Sunday, we have to find a way to execute and get things done.”
Andy Reid made it clear that missed opportunities are what hurt Philadelphia in the end, as the Eagles finished the game converting on third down only 7 out of 14 times.
“We should have taken care of that game,” Reid said. “We had opportunities early and you need to take advantage of those in the National Football League. If you don't, you're going to run into trouble like this.”
Another factor that continues to haunt the Eagles is their inability to capitalize on drives. Their struggles in the red zone have been apparent all season and they scored only once out of four tries from inside 20 yards against Chicago.
“It's a prime example if you don't take care of business in the red zone then it comes back to haunt you,” Reid said after the game.
With 1:52 left in the game, Sav Rocca got off a 43-yard kick that went out of bounds at Chicago's three-yard line. After giving the Bears good field position most of the day to avoid the the threat of return specialist Devin Hester, the Eagles had put Chicago in its worst starting field position of the game with no time outs left and only needed to protect the end zone.
Although they bottled up the Bears passing attack most of the day, the Eagles defense could not seem to come up with plays on the final drive. Brian Griese, who finished the game 27/41 for 322 yards passing and a touchdown, executed the two-minute drill perfectly and found holes in Philadelphia's secondary. After completing six passes to four different receivers, Griese connected with veteran Muhsin Muhammad for a 15 yard touchdown pass that left nine seconds on the clock and sealed the game.
“We made a few plays where we were in position to take a couple of shots,” Muhammad, who finished the game with five catches for 79 yards, said of the final drive.
Of the play where he beat Sean Considine for the winning score, Muhammad said, “Brian gave me an opportunity to catch that ball. The defensive back just had his back turned to the ball and he threw kind of a jump ball out there, and I just made a little bit of a move and adjusted to the ball in the air.”
With his team now sitting in last place in the NFC east, days after commenting
that the division crown still comes through Philadelphia, McNabb tried to remain
optimistic when talking about Sunday's letdown.
“The only thing you can possibly do is learn from this,” McNabb said. “It's unfortunate because we kind of swung it our way and things were in position for us to seal the deal, and we just didn't do it.”