Five reasons the Eagles won their playoff opener over the Bears on Sunday in Chicago, 16-15:

The hand of, uh, Treyvon

When Cody Parkey missed that fateful 43-yard field goal Sunday that punched the Eagles’ ticket to the divisional round of the playoffs and a rematch in the Big Easy with the Saints, it seemed to be a case of a struggling kicker who shanked the biggest boot of his career.

Parkey had missed seven of 30 field-goal attempts this season. Five were from 41 yards or shorter. So this wasn’t a gimme for the former Eagle.

But as it turned out, Sunday’s miss had some help. Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester, rushing up the middle with Haloti Ngata, got a fingertip on the ball, as the NFL acknowledged Monday by changing the miss to a block.

It was so slight that no one, including the Fox broadcast crew, even knew it until after the game when Hester mentioned it. It’s impossible to know whether Parkey’s kick would have been good if Hester hadn’t gotten a piece of it.

It’s impossible to tell whether it altered the direction or the velocity of the ball enough to cause it to hit the left upright, then the crossbar, then bounce forward into the end zone rather than over the crossbar.

Hester isn’t tall. He’s only 6-foot-2. His 32-inch arms are about average for an interior defensive lineman. I don’t know the last time he clipped his fingernails.

But he got just enough penetration on that kick and got his left arm up in the air at just the right time to probably influence a field-goal miss that kept the Eagles’ Super Bowl hopes alive.

St. Nick redux

His overall passing numbers weren’t great. He completed 62.5 percent of his passes, a far cry from the 77 percent he had in his previous three starts.

He threw two early interceptions in Chicago territory that potentially cost the Eagles points. But when the game was on the line, Nick Foles came up big, coolly leading the 12-play, 60-yard touchdown drive that gave the Eagles the lead back.

He completed six of nine passes on the game-winning drive, including two to Alshon Jeffery: a 15-yarder to kick-start the drive and then a huge 11-yarder on a third-and-9 that gave the Eagles a first down at the Chicago 2.

Then, on fourth down, with the Eagles facing playoff elimination, he sprinted out to his right and threw a strike to Golden Tate for the game-winning touchdown.

“He’s a very calm, cool, collected guy,’’ Tate said of Foles. “He understands the game. He wants to live in the now. He doesn’t put too much pressure on himself, or at least it doesn’t seem like it.

“We’ve done a good job of gathering around him and following his lead. But it starts with him.’’

Foles Ranks First Among Postseason Quarterbacks

NIck Foles has the highest career postseason passer rating among quarterbacks who have made at least 150 attempts.

Highest postseason passer ratings

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Quarterback

Nick Foles

Bart Starr

Kurt Warner

Matt Ryan

Drew Brees

Aaron Rodgers

Alex Smith

Joe Montana

Russell Wilson

Mark Sanchez

Team(s)

Eagles

Packers

Rams, Cardinals

Falcons

Chargers, Saints

Packers

49ers, Chiefs

49ers, Chiefs

Seahawks

Jets

Seasons

2012-2018

1956-1971

1998-2009

2008-2018

2001-2018

2005-2018

2005-2018

1979-1994

2012-2018

2009-2018

Passer rating

105.2

104.8

102.8

100.8

100.7

99.4

97.4

95.6

94.9

94.3

Other Eagles quarterbacks

 

34.

46.

47.

Quarterback

Donovan McNabb

Randall Cunningham

Jeff Garcia

Team(s)

Eagles

Eagles, Vikings

49ers, Eagles, Bucs

Seasons

1999-2011

1985-2001

1999-2009

Passer rating

80.0

74.3

73.8

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Highest postseason passer ratings

Quarterback

Team(s)

Seasons

Nick Foles

Bart Starr

Kurt Warner

Matt Ryan

Drew Brees

Aaron Rodgers

Alex Smith

Joe Montana

Russell Wilson

Mark Sanchez

Eagles

Packers

Rams, Cardinals

Falcons

Chargers, Saints

Packers

49ers, Chiefs

49ers, Chiefs

Seahawks

Jets

2012-2018

1956-1971

1998-2009

2008-2018

2001-2018

2005-2018

2005-2018

1979-1994

2012-2018

2009-2018

105.2

104.8

102.8

100.8

100.7

99.4

97.4

95.6

94.9

94.3

Other Eagles quarterbacks

Quarterback

Team(s)

Seasons

34.

46.

47.

Donovan McNabb

R. Cunningham

Jeff Garcia

Eagles

Eagles, Vikings

49ers, Eagles, Bucs

1999-2011

1985-2001

1999-2009

80.0

74.3

73.8

SOURCE: Pro Football Reference
Staff Graphic

The defense

Jim Schwartz’s unit hardly was perfect Sunday. Rookie corner Avonte Maddox got beat on a double move by Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson for a 45-yard completion late in the third quarter. Robinson beat Maddox again on a 22-yard TD catch with 9:04 left in the game that gave the Bears a 15-10 lead. Robinson also catches of 25 and 8 yards on the drive that led up to Parkey’s miss.

Safety Tre Sullivan blew the easiest interception opportunity he’s ever going to have in the second quarter when a Mitchell Trubisky pass clanged off his hands in the end zone, allowing the Bears to get the second of Parkey’s three field goals.

But overall, the defense actually did a very good job. The Eagles held a team that had scored 24 or more points in seven of its eight home games to 15 points. They held the Bears to 17 first downs, which equaled the Bears’ fewest at home this season. They thwarted all three of the their red-zone challenges.

They snuffed the Bears’ run game (65 yards on 18 carries, 21 yards of which came on a reverse), held Trubisky to zero TDs and 5.7 yards per attempt in the first three quarters, and allowed Trubisky and the Bears to convert just five of 16 third-down opportunities.

Staying with the plan

The Eagles didn’t run the ball very well Sunday. They averaged just 1.8 yards per carry against the Bears, their lowest average of the season. They had just two rushing first downs and only five runs that gained more than 3 yards.

But how many yards the Eagles ran for Sunday wasn’t as important as how often they ran it. They ran it 23 times (for just 42 yards), including 13 times in the first half.

Doug Pederson often doesn’t need much convincing to abandon the run. But Sunday, against the Bears and their fierce pass rush, he knew he had to continue to mix in the run to keep the Bears honest and give the play-action game some teeth.

Eight of the Eagles’ 23 runs gained zero or negative yards. Darren Sproles had a season-high 13 carries, but for just 21 yards. Wendell Smallwood was held to 20 yards on eight carries. But right up until the end, the Eagles ran the ball: seven times in the first quarter, six in the second, three in the third, and seven in the fourth.

With a first-and-goal at the 2 late in the game, Foles gave the ball to Sproles two straight times before going to the air on third and fourth down.

That commitment to the run might have been enough to slow the Bears’ rush and allow Foles to get outside and throw that game-winning touchdown pass to Golden Tate.

Alshon

Tate caught the pass in Sunday’s game that will be remembered most, but Jeffery had those two big catches on that game-winning drive: the 15-yarder that started the drive,and the 11-yarder on third-and-9 that set the stage for Foles’ 2-yard TD throw to Tate.

Jeffery was targeted nine times and had six catches for 82 yards against the Bears. Five of his six catches resulted in first downs, including a 30-yarder in the first quarter.

Jeffery’s production has jumped since Foles replaced Carson Wentz. He has 22 catches in Foles’ four starts and is averaging 17.4 yards per catch. Sixteen of those 22 catches have produced first downs.