LANDOVER, Md -- What died in New Orleans lives again today.
What was stolen at Dallas was recovered in Washington.
The Eagles left the bayou battered by 41 points, their sixth loss, with six games left, with zero hope.
That hope briefly flamed for two games, then was dashed again at Dallas by horrific officiating, a bad-luck overtime bounce and a quarterback who’d played with a broken back. But then unlikely wins at the Rams and against the visiting Texans, both engineered led by Super Bowl hero Nick Foles, gave the Eagles a glimmer as they rode down I-95 on Saturday.
If the Bears beat the Vikings on Sunday the Eagles would qualify for the playoffs. But the Bears would have nothing to play for if the Rams were simultaneously destroying the 49ers.
Everybody watched each other, none as intently as the Eagles, who controlled nothing.
Nothing, that is, except the Redskins.
Their hosts hardly bothered to show up. The Eagles won, 24-0. Foles completed 25 consecutive passes and finished 28 for 33 with two touchdowns and a red-zone interception before he left the game in the fourth quarter with a chest injury -- the same chest that absorbed an illegal hit the week before from Texans end Jadeveon Clowney.
This time it was Ryan Kerrigan, who sacked Foles at a point in the game where the Eagles, leading by 17, should have been handing the ball off. After all, to that point the Birds had allowed Washington 52 yards of offense.
It was almost a sideshow.
The main attraction lay in what happened in Minnesota. With 6 minutes, 30 seconds to play against the Redskins, and with the Bears leading by 3, the 20,000 or so Eagles fans at FedEx Field chanted, “Let’s go Bears! Let’s go Bears!"
The Bears went.
With 43 seconds to play in the first half the Bears' 13-0 lead had flashed on the Washington scoreboard. A quarter of the assemblage, adorned in its green, roared its approval. The Eagles took a 10-0 lead on the next play, a 2-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery, with 30 seconds left in the third quarter; the cheers were about equal. A few minutes later, in their locker room, they learned that the the Rams had take a 28-3 lead with more than 6 minutes to play in the second quarter.
They had possessed the football for almost 24 of the 30 minutes. Foles had completed 17 of the 25 consecutive passes he would complete, tying Philip Rivers' six-week-old record. They had allowed 30 total yards. They had been faultless, except for Foles' red-zone interception. They ad done nearly all they could do, but their fate still lay in the hands of Bears coach Matt Nagy, his quarterback and, more than anything else, his fearsome defense.
Would the Bears continue to play to win? Would they bench some of their starters? Would quarterback Mitch Trubisky finish the game?
Trubisky stayed in.
With 3 minutes, 37 seconds left at Washington, the Bears took a 21-10 lead.
The Eagles were not pristine, but mediocre teams seldom are. There were glitches -- the second red-zone interception from Foles in three games, and, later, a delay-of-game penalty that ruined a fourth-and-1 try in the third quarter -- but even that miscue was muted by the scoreboard news of a 49ers touchdown, which cut their deficit to 18 and kept the outcome in question. That grew to 21 as the first half ended at L.A.
Foles was conservative but generally solid. After he badly missed Agholor with what would have been consecutive completion No. 26, Foles found him near the goal line, undefended. Agholor caught this pass, landed on his bottom, twisted his torso and reached across the line. When the ball hit the ground it was dislodged from his hands, and the play initially was ruled an incompletion, but upon replay the ruling was reversed. Their game ended
At that point, the Eagles had done their part. All they could do was finish their game, watch, and wait, and pray.
As they left the field former Eagles kicker Cody Parkey kicked a field goal that gave the Bears a 14-point lead with less than four minutes to play.
The Eagles had won five of six. They were a 9-win team with the chance to become the seventh Wild Card entry to win a Super Bowl and the first since the 2010 Packers.
What had died in New Orleans lived again in D.C.
» JEFF McLANE: No one wants to play the Eagles right now, and they know it
» EAGLES-BEARS: Next week’s kick time and the rest of the playoff schedule
» SOCIAL MEDIA ROUNDUP: What they’re saying and how fans celebrated
» GRADING THE EAGLES: Team earns ‘A-plus’ in regular-season finale
» SPORTS BETTING: Eagles open as six-point underdog to Da Bears
» READ MORE: Nelson Agholor the not-so-unsung hero in win
» UP-DOWN DRILL: Bears and Birds trending up at just the right time
» MARCUS HAYES: Defense pitches rare shutout, surges into playoffs