CHICAGO - "The scoreboard is frozen," referee Walt Coleman announced to the crowd at Soldier Field. It was early in the fourth quarter of a football game that would not end, a night when the quarterbacks wore bulls-eyes and the running games were useless and nothing for either team really went according to form.
It was more demolition derby than football, much more about mistakes than anything else. That the Eagles will always miss Brian Westbrook remains plain enough. That Bears quarterback Kyle Orton is still Kyle Orton is also fairly obvious.
But as it wound down, slowly, inexorably, it came to this: the Eagles, trailing by 24-20, about a half-yard away from the end zone with 3:40 left to play. Eagles coach Andy Reid called a timeout to put together a play. The field goal was decided against. This was it, a chance to salvage a bruising, difficult night.
I formation…calling signals…the give is to Correll Buckhalter, who took the ball and battered in behind the right side of the Eagles' offensive line and immediately met resistance.
It was close, but not really.
No gain. Chicago ball.
Bears 24, Eagles 20.
This is life without Brian Westbrook. This is what happens when you play without one of the great offensive weapons in the National Football League. This is what happens: you don't get into the end zone on four cracks from inside the 5-yard line.
Westbrook came out before the game and tested his ankle on the turf, tried to run a little, cut a little, and then huddled with coaches and team officials to make a decision.
When the decision was no-go, it changed everything.
There is no camouflaging a loss like Westbrook.