3-and-out: Bears vs. Eagles

Published: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT
Caption
(Michael Perez)
The Bears' Earl Bennett, left, is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles' Bradley Fletcher during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

3 stars

1. Martellus Bennett — On a dismal night for the Bears’ offense, Bennett caught five passes for a team-high 85 yards, converting several first downs and hauling in a 30-yard pass that led to a touchdown.

2. Jon Bostic — The rookie is, of course, part of the reason the Bears’ defense couldn’t stop the Eagles. But he did make two big plays: a tackle for loss on a screen play and a fumble recovery.

3. LeSean McCoy — The league’s leading rusher had no problem against the league’s worst run defense, even with Lance Briggs on the field. McCoy rushed for 133 yards on 18 carries (7.4-yard average) and two touchdowns.

3 things that worked

1. Getting help — The best thing to happen to the Bears on Sunday happened before kickoff, when the Lions were eliminated from playoff contention and the Packers lost. The Bears certainly didn’t want to lay an egg on national television, but if they beat the Packers next week, the loss to Philadelphia means little, if anything at all.

2. Staying healthy — Chris Conte got hurt, but was cleared to return, otherwise the Bears avoided injury heading into the biggest game of the season next Sunday. So they have that going for them, which is nice.

3. Coverage teams — The Bears held the Eagles to two yards on two punt returns, including tackling DeSean Jackson for a three-yard loss. Brad Smith, who can be very dangerous on kickoff returns, only gained 17 yards.

3 that didn’t

1. First-quarter offense —The Bears went three-and-out two possessions in a row to start the game and went down 21-0. Against a bad Philadelphia defense, the Bears totaled one first down and 26 yards in the first quarter. Matt Forte had four carries for eight yards.

2. Pass defense — No one expected the Bears to stop McCoy, but their concern about stopping the run gave Nick Foles plenty of wide-open options. He completed 21-of-25 passes for two touchdowns, good for a rating of 131.7.

3. Return game and punting — Devin Hester lost a fumble on his second kickoff return. On one return, he faked a handoff, which didn’t fool the Eagles. When he did lateral to Michael Ford, the return went nowhere. The Bears' average drive start position was their own 20-yard line.

3 moments that mattered

1. By electing to receive, the Bears could have seized upon the excitement from Lions and Packers losses and scored first. Instead, on third-and-three, Trent Cole shoved Matt Forte aside and sacked Jay Cutler, forcing a punt. The Eagles scored on the next drive, and the rout had begun.

2. On the opening drive of the second half, Isaiah Frey stripped McCoy and Stephen Paea recovered the fumble, but the play was overturned — McCoy was down. It would have been the Bears’ first fumble recovery since Week 4, and put the team in position to start a rally.

3. Every blowout has that moment when the game just gets completely out of hand. That had to be when Cutler threw a pass in the fourth quarter that Brandon Boykin returned 54 yards for a touchdown, or Bryce Brown's 65-yard touchdown run.

What now?

Record: 8-7

What it means: The Bears got an absolute gift by having an opportunity to clinch the NFC North, but instead they’ll have to win in Week 17 to make the playoffs, and are now behind the Eagles when it comes to seeding.

What’s next? The division comes down to game’s longest rivalry, Bears vs. Packers, at Soldier Field in the season finale with a 3:25 p.m. kickoff. Win, and the Bears are in.

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