Eagles stop Bears

No one knows what will happen when the Packers take the field vs. the Rams in their NFC divisional playoff matchup. Both teams now know what lies ahead for the winner: an NFC Championship date with the Philadelphia Eagles, who clobbered the Bears 33-17 today at Soldier Field. The Bears became only the second No. 1 or 2 seed to lose their initial playoff game following the bye. The only other time it happened was in 1995 when the Packers shocked the 49ers.

Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb proved to be just too much for the Bears. McNabb threw for two touchdowns and running for a third to spark a 33-19 victory.

"It was very exciting to have my family and friends here," said McNabb, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs.

David Akers kicked four field goals and Philadelphia's rugged defense bottled up a Chicago offense crippled when quarterback Jim Miller was knocked out of the game in the second quarter because of a separated shoulder.

The Bears, in their first playoff appearance since 1994 and hoping in vain for their first post-season victory at home since 1990, lived up to only about half of their billing. Their highly-touted defense succeeded in stopping RB Duce Staley, but couldn't counter the Eagles' air attack.

Adding insult to injury, two of McNabb's key conversions came on fourth and third down passes to former Packer tight end Jeff Thomason.

McNabb, who once played in a prep championship at Soldier Field, completed 26 of 40 passes for 262 yards and rushed for 37 more in the last game at the venerable lakefront stadium before it undergoes a major renovation.

Another former Packer, Tim Hauck, forced Chicago's Autry Denson to fumble a fourth-quarter kickoff. That led to the game-sealing score, McNabb's 5-yard TD run with 3:21 to go.

The Bears, with Shane Matthews filling in for Miller, managed only one offensive touchdown. Their defense got them a third-quarter lead when Jerry Azumah grabbed a deflected pass and raced for a 39-yard TD to put the Bears up 14-13.

Matthews, who led overtime wins over San Francisco and Cleveland this season, hadn't played since Nov. 4.

The Eagles suffered a loss when defensive back Troy Vincent was forced out of the game with a groin pull. His status for next week was not immediately known.


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