CHICAGO - It took the Eagles 21 seconds Monday night to turn a two-point lead into a 15-point advantage, and it might have only taken two weeks for the Eagles to turn Philadelphia fans into believers about a team that entered the 2016 season with few expectations but is now 2-0 with two convincing victories.
The Eagles sent the Soldier Field crowd to the exits early with a 29-14 win over the Chicago Bears, and have outscored opponents by 58-24 to start the season. Doug Pederson became the first Eagles coach to win his first two games since Nick Skorich in 1961, and quarterback Carson Wentz became the fifth rookie passer to win the first two games of the season since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
"I came out pretty much same routine [as Week 1]," Wentz said. "It was a cool stage, Monday Night Football, everything was sweet. But again, it was a football game, and we came out with a win."
For Wentz, it was another performance that made him look more like someone who's played eight seasons than eight quarters. He finished 21 of 34 for 190 yards and one touchdown, and he went another week without a turnover. He was helped by Pederson's play-calling and a defense that has allowed only two touchdowns in two weeks and has forced four turnovers.
"If we keep that up, the sky's the limit on where we can go," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "I expect big things for us. Every year, we work hard for this. But this year, you can really see – it's a good mold here right now. We've got to take advantage of it."
The leading receiver was Jordan Matthews, who had six catches for 71 yards. Tight end Trey Burton replaced the injured Zach Ertz and caught five passes for 49 yards and a score. Ryan Mathews also reached the end zone twice on 12 carries and totaled 32 rushing yards.
The Eagles turned a 9-7 halftime lead into a rout during the second half with a defense that devastated Chicago's offense - and eventually sent Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to the locker room - and an offense that stopped settling for field goals and started finding the end zone.
It started with an eight-play, 68-yard drive late in the third quarter during which Wentz completed all three pass attempts and Mathews stayed on his feet to stumble into the end zone for a 3-yard score.
The Bears had possession for only one play. Cutler threw a short pass that Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham intercepted at the Bears 30-yard line and returned 28 yards to the 2-yard line. That was Cutler's last play; he left with a hand injury suffered earlier in the quarter, when Eagles rookie defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao sacked Cutler and forced a fumble. Cutler tried to continue playing, but he was eventually relieved by Brian Hoyer.
Wentz made sure the Eagles had a bigger lead by the time Hoyer entered the game. He hit Burton on a 2-yard touchdown pass on the first play after the turnover. Although Caleb Sturgis missed the extra point, the 21-second sequence changed the game. The score went from 9-7 to 22-7, and the Eagles showed no mercy.
"That was huge," Wentz said. "The defense had a huge turnover, gave us the touchdown, more or less. Defense gave us good job getting us good field position, but those two scores really kind of separated and were obviously big momentum swingers for the game."
The Eagles forced their third turnover of the game when Bennie Logan stripped running back Jeremy Langford and Ron Brooks recovered on the third play of the fourth quarter. The Eagles drove all the way to the 2-yard line, and Pederson kept his offense on the field on a fourth down. A Bears offsides gave them a second chance when they missed the first attempt, and Mathews took the do-over and punched the ball in from one yard out for a 29-7 lead.
"Offensively, we've got to be able to get the ball in the end zone," Pederson said. "It's such a boost to convert fourth downs and score. I just think, for me, it shows confidence in the guys and the aggression that we'll continue."
The 26 unanswered points were halted when the Bears returned a punt for a score late in the fourth quarter, but Chicago could do little to threaten the Eagles at that point. The Eagles had already taken too big of a lead - and they would have built a bigger first-half lead if they were as successful in the red zone in the first half as they were in the second.
In the first half, the Eagles settled for field goals instead of touchdowns.
After forcing the Bears into a three-and-out to open the game, the Eagles went on a 13-play drive that stalled in the red zone. A second-quarter drive could not advance past the 10-yard line, leaving the Eagles again with three points instead of seven. And then at the end of the half, Matthews dropped a deep pass that could have resulted in a touchdown. Sturgis hit a 53-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 9-7 halftime lead.
The competition only gets more difficult when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, but Philadelphia can revel in a 2-0 team and celebrate a rookie coach and quarterback who continue to raise expectations.
"Two-and-0," Wentz said. "It's always fun."