CHICAGO – The pandemonium that resulted when Nick Foles continued his legendary run in Philadelphia by throwing a last-minute touchdown pass to give the Eagles a lead turned into concern when the Chicago Bears set up to kick a potential game-winning field goal with 10 seconds left. Yet there was little doubt on the Eagles sideline when they watched Cody Parkey’s kick boink off the upright and the crossbar, clinching their 16-15 win over the Bears in the opening round of the postseason on Sunday at Soldier Field.

If they were not undone by underachieving through the first three months of the season, if a losing record during December couldn’t kill them, and if an injury-depleted roster was merely an obstacle, then certainly there was reason to believe.

“Honestly, I had a feeling somehow we were going to win that game,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “At this point, why wouldn’t you?”

The Eagles continued their blistering late-season run, defying oddsmakers with their sixth win in seven games and setting up a date against the top-seeded New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Watching hopefully and helplessly from the sideline, players and coaches erupted in the same joy that they exhibited when they won their first playoff game late in the fourth quarter one year ago. That ride finished with the Eagles hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. That might be tougher this season, but the Eagles will live to see another week.

“Just overwhelmed,” coach Doug Pederson said after the game. “We knew it was going to be that type of game. We hung in there. Wasn’t pretty at times, but we made the plays when they needed to.”

Plus, they have Foles at quarterback.

Foles’ storybook career in Philadelphia now has a new chapter. He looked around the huddle with 4 minutes 48 seconds remaining and the Eagles down by five points, and told his teammates to stay in the moment.

Foles, determined to extend his Eagles career, brought the Eagles to the 2-yard line, where their drive stalled and they faced a fourth down with 61 seconds remaining.

Pederson called a play similar to one that was called seven seasons earlier for a game-winning touchdown in Foles’ first career victory. Foles sprinted to his right and fired a pass to Golden Tate in the front corner of the end zone to give the Eagles a lead with 56 seconds left, stunning a Soldier Field crowd that had seen the Bears defense turn into one of the NFL’s most formidable units and its home venue one of the most imposing. Whatever Foles is channeling is stronger, because the Eagles stayed alive.

“Nick is Nick; he’s going to stay calm, he’s going to stay collected,” Pederson said.

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It happened even when the Bears had a 35-yard kickoff return and a big gain to go into field goal range. That gave Foles flashbacks to his first postseason game, in January 2014, when he left the field with a lead only to see the Eagles lose on a last-second field goal by the Saints.

Not this time, and not this team.

“He makes that kick 99 out of a hundred times,” Foles said of Parkey, his former teammate. “We were just fortunate that was the one he missed.”

Pederson iced Parkey with a timeout – Parkey made a meaningless kick – before Parkey missed on the kick that mattered.

“I was doing it regardless,” Pederson said of icing Parkey, even though he was unsuccessful doing so earlier in the game. “I wasn’t going to take [the timeout] with me.”

“It’s a game of inches,” Jenkins said, “and that literally came down to every inch that we have.”

Foles finished 25 of 40 for 266 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Alshon Jeffery was the leading receiver with six catches for 82 yards in his return to Chicago. And Tate, who was acquired at midseason, scored the game-winning touchdown.

Mitchell Trubisky, who was the inferior quarterback throughout much of the game, came alive in the fourth quarter on a six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that gave the Bears the lead.

The Bears forced the Eagles off the field, but the Eagles defense was able to answer to give the ball back to Foles. That’s when Foles put together the game-winning drive.

“They can see through it if you’re faking it, but I draw my strength from those guys in the huddle, just look in their eyes, the belief they have, not only in me but in one another, knowing that this was a crazy game,” Foles said. “There was a lot of adversity. This is one of the most hostile environments I’ve played in.”

Even before that drive, though, the Eagles thought they had control of the game. They went into the locker room at halftime with a 6-3 deficit despite mostly outplaying the Bears. They were undone by costly miscues, including two interceptions in Bears territory; two third-down penalties to extend scoring drives for the Bears; and two missed interceptions that could have changed the tide of the game.

The Eagles used a 43-yard Jake Elliott field goal on their opening drive to take a 3-0 lead and were in striking distance to score in the second quarter. Instead, Foles’ short pass to Wendell Smallwood was wrestled away by Roquan Smith for an interception. And just when the defense appeared to respond with a three-and-out, Michael Bennett was flagged for unnecessary roughness. The Bears were given new life, and they eventually kicked a 36-yard field to tie the game.

The Eagles’ next drive ended the same way: with a Foles interception when he made a poor pass into traffic in the end zone. It was Foles’ first multi-interception game since returning to Philadelphia in 2017, but he didn’t unravel.

“I think those games are tough when you make mistakes early that hurt your team and … it can affect you because you want to go out there and you want to help,” Foles said. “I think sometimes you can start forcing it. You can be a little gun-shy as a younger player. … I learned a lot about myself tonight.”

The Bears took the lead before halftime with a drive extended by a Nigel Bradham penalty and with a missed interception by Tre Sullivan. The Eagles responded in the third quarter when Foles hit Dallas Goedert for a 10-yard score – the first touchdown of the game.

The lead alternated in the fourth quarter, but it finished with the Eagles on top. Now the Eagles will have a chance to avenge their 48-7 loss to the Saints on Nov. 18, the nadir of their season. It proved to be a turning point. They’re a different team now.

They’ll still be underdogs, but who cares? It’s worked for them before, it worked for them again on Sunday, and they’ll try to make it work again next week.

“At that point, that was the low point in our season,” Jenkins said. “But at no point do you doubt who you have in the locker room. … We earned our opportunity to go back there.”

The Eagles bench erupts after Chicago kicker Cody Parkey misses a late field goal to give the Birds the win.
DAVID MAIALETTI
The Eagles bench erupts after Chicago kicker Cody Parkey misses a late field goal to give the Birds the win.

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