Extra Points: Bears blow off big opportunity
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Everything came up Bears on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday night was a far different story.
The Philadelphia Eagles were the team with "nothing" to play for but Chicago was the club which played like nothings, getting routed by the Birds, 54-11.
Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes during Philadelphia's 21-point first quarter and LeSean McCoy rushed for 133 yards and a pair of one-yard scores for the Eagles, who came in knowing the Dallas Cowboys won earlier in the day to set up a winner-take-all showdown next week for the NFC East title.
The Bears, on the other hand, entered the contest with every opportunity to lock up the NFC North a week early. Evidently no one clued in Marc Trestman or his team to the fact that Detroit fell in overtime to New York, and Green Bay came up short in the waning seconds against Pittsburgh, however.
The Lions' setback eliminated them from the North division race, while the Packers' hiccup made a potential Week 17 date with Chicago for all the marbles very precarious and wholly dependent on the Bears falling to the Eagles.
Chicago didn't just lose, it laid an egg for the ages.
Much was made about the fact this contest could have been rendered meaningless -- save for seeding purposes -- on both sides before Carrie Underwood finished telling us Al and Cris are the best on TV.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly was insistent, however, he would play to win no matter what happened with the Cowboys earlier in the day and he was true to his word.
Philadelphia came out on fire and built up a three-touchdown lead before Chicago mustered five yards of total offense.
The Bears got the football first and went three-and-out before a woeful Adam Podlesh punt set the Eagles up in plus territory, It took Philadelphia all of six plays to go 43 yards as Foles bootlegged right and found Riley Cooper working the back of the end zone for a 5-yard score.
Kelly was on the receiving end of a lot of criticism last week for coaching scared and refusing to kick to dynamic Minnesota return man Cordarrelle Patterson. He learned his lesson this week and let Alex Henery boot it deep after the score.
The Eagles didn't exactly pin Devin Hester in but after a 36- yard return Bradley Fletcher stripped the football and Cary Williams proved to be Johnny on the spot, scooping it up on the Chicago 39. This time Foles needed just five plays to navigate the Birds toward paydirt, culminating in a 1-yard McCoy plunge.
Twitter was ablaze with negative Bears fans ripping the team's woeful defense despite the fact that their special teams units put the downtrodden group into an untenable position to two consecutive occasions.
That said, the unit quickly earned its criticism, starting with the next possession. After another three-and-out by Jay Cutler and Co., the Bears D faltered badly, allowing Foles to march 72 yards before the second-year signal caller found Brent Celek for a 10-yard score.
The rout was on.
By halftime it was 24-3 and the game was essentially over. Foles completed 14- of-17 passes for 145 yards with a 141.4 passer rating at intermission compared to Cutler's ugly 70.2 rating. Philadelphia was doubling Chicago in yardage and even had a significant edge in time of possession, something Kelly doesn't even care about.
The scored swelled to 33-11 by the end of the third and when Bryce Brown capped the scoring with a 65-yard TD run late in the game, the Eagles had cracked the half-century mark for the first time since beating Detroit 56-21 on Sept. 23, 2007, and Kelly probably thought he was back in Eugene running up the score for style points in the latest AP poll.
Cutler finished the game 20-of-35 for 222 yards with one TD and an interception. He was sacked five times and pulled for Josh McCown after throwing a pick-six to Philadelphia's Brandon Boykin with 8:10 to play.
The rules still say somebody has to win the NFC North next week and that midget among dwarves will be crowned in the Second City.
And who knows, maybe Trestman will even alert his team that next week's affair against its biggest rival is a win or go home proposition.
The narrative in Chicago this week will no doubt focus on whether Cutler or McCown should start for the Bears. That and what the medical reports coming out of Green Bay say about Aaron Rodgers.
Rumblings out of Titletown this week say it would have been an "extraordinary risk" for the star QB -- who has missed the last seven games with a broken collarbone suffered against Chicago on Nov. 4 -- to play against the Steelers.
If that risk disappears or even dissipates in the next seven days, the Bears have little chance.
But worrying about the Packers' sleeping giant seems like overkill. The Bears team that showed up in South Philly on Sunday night would have trouble dealing with Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, Seneca Wallace, Don Majkowski, Lynn Dickey or anyone else Packers coach Mike McCarthy puts under center.
12/23 00:50:44 ET