Like a lot of other points in the 2011 season, the Eagles had a shot Monday night to make a statement, and the only statement they made is they are clearly not as good as they think they are.
Jay Cutler threw two touchdown passes, including the game-winning score to Earl Bennett early in the fourth quarter, to carry the Bears over the Eagles, 30-24.
Cutler completed 18-of-32 passes for 208 yards during the seesaw battle, while Bennett, who had missed the previous five games with a chest injury, caught five passes for 95 yards.
Matt Forte amassed 150 yards from scrimmage but lost two fumbles for Chicago (5-3), which overcame the mistakes to extend its winning streak to three.
The Eagles (3-5) failed to build off a convincing win over the Cowboys. They squandered a scoring chance in Bears territory with under two minutes left in regulation, as Michael Vick threw high to Jeremy Maclin, who caught the 4th- and-10 pass but couldn’t gain his feet in time to reach the first-down marker.
Vick threw for a pedestrian 213 yards with an interception on 21-of-38 passes, while LeSean McCoy rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries for an offense that was held to a season-low 330 total yards.
“I know there’s things I could have done better. Against a team like that you have to be precise…We didn’t make the plays,” Vick said. “We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to get to .500…We had a chance to win this game and we let it slip away.”
Two quick touchdowns put the hosts up 24-17 with six minutes left in the third, but Chicago answered with the final 13 points.
Robbie Gould booted a 38-yard field goal in the final seconds of the third, and Cutler came up with several big plays during the Bears’ go-ahead drive. First, he turned a potential sack into an eight-yard pass to Marion Barber, then found Bennett for a 22-yard gain before completing an impromptu shovel pass to Devin Hester that moved the ball to the opposing nine-yard line.
“As the game went on we got a little bit better,” Cutler said.
After a four-yard run by Forte, Cutler lofted a fade to Bennett in the right corner of the end zone for a 27-24 lead with 12:18 remaining.
Philadelphia moved to the ball to Chicago’s 42-yard line, but an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-6 brought out the punting unit. A fake saw Colt Anderson end up wide open on the left side, but punter Chas Henry threw the ball three yards short for a turnover on downs.
A 14-yard catch by Roy Williams on 3rd-and-2 and a pass interference penalty on Nnamdi Asomugha gave Chicago a 1st-and-goal situation from the seven, but the Eagles kept it a one-possession game by forcing a 22-yard Gould field goal with 3:58 showing.
Dion Lewis’s 32-yard kickoff return and Maclin’s 13-yard catch moved the ball into Bears territory, but McCoy was stuffed for no gain and Vick threw two incompeltions prior to coming up one yard short on a hookup with Maclin.
Chicago killed all but nine seconds of the remaining 1:45 to hold on for the win.
Forte started strong, running for 45 yards on three of the first four plays from scrimmage to spark a 12-play, 79-yard drive that Matt Spaeth capped with a five-yard touchdown catch.
“Getting out to that earlier lead, especially on the road, gets you going in the right direction,” Bears head coach Lovie Smith said.
A Vick interception was converted into a 51-yard Gould field goal midway through the second, and Alex Henery countered by sneaking in a 47-yard kick near the two-minute warning.
Philadelphia’s first touchdown came shortly thereafter, as Forte was stripped immediately after making a catch and Brian Rolle picked up the loose ball and returned it 22 yards for a score.
Chicago seized momentum prior to halftime when DeSean Jackson fumbled returning a punt and the Bears recovered at the Eagles’ nine yard-line. A roughing the passer penalty on third down extended the ensuing drive, and Barber plowed over the goal line from two yards out for a 17-10 lead.
The tide turned after the break, as the Eagles embarked on a game-tying 80- yard drive. McCoy ran for a first down on 4th-and-1 from the Chicago 20, then broke down a defender en route to an eight-yard gain on 3rd-and-6.
Ronnie Brown finished the 15-play march with a four-yard run up the middle for his first touchdown of the season.
Forte fumbled on the third play of Chicago’s next possession, with instant replay reversing the ruling on the field that the running back was down by contact.
McCoy followed with a sprint draw to the left side, first side-stepping a defensive lineman then bolting through the Chicago secondary for a 33-yard scoring jaunt.