Losses by the Packers and Lions late Sunday afternoon gave the Bears a chance to clinch the NFC North title a few hours later in Philadelphia. But those hopes were dashed quickly and decisively.
The Eagles dominated Sunday night's game at Lincoln Financial Field, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions to take a 21-0 first-quarter lead en route to a 54-11 victory.
The good news is that the Bears (8-7) can still capture the division championship in a winner-take-all season finale against the Packers (7-7-1) next Sunday at Soldier Field. The bad news is that the Bears looked about as far from a playoff team as possible in Philadelphia."We are a team that was ready to play this game and we played a terrible football game for lack of a better word," said coach Marc Trestman. "I'm not going to use any word other than that. We were terrible in all three phases. We didn't play well in any phase of football."
In suffering their most lopsided defeat since a 47-0 drubbing by the Oilers in Houston on Nov, 6, 1977, the Bears allowed the second most points in franchise history, topped only in a 55-20 loss to the Lions in Detroit on Nov. 27, 1997.
The Bears were outrushed 289-61, allowing both LeSean McCoy (18 carries for 133 yards) and Bryce Brown (9-115) to top 100 yards. Quarterback Nick Foles repeatedly hit wide-open receivers, completing 21 of 25 passes for 230 yards with 2 TDs and a 131.7 passer rating.
"We lost the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football," Trestman said. "We didn't run the ball well. We couldn't even get a run started tonight when we started the game, and we certainly couldn't stop the run."
After the Bears opened the game with a three-and-out, Adam Podlesh shanked a 25-yard punt to the Chicago 43. The Eagles then took a 7-0 lead on Foles' 5-yard TD pass to Riley Cooper.
Devin Hester followed by losing a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Philadelphia turned the miscue into a 14-0 advantage on McCoy's 1-yard touchdown run.
After another three-and-out, Foles hit an uncovered Brent Celek with a 10-yard TD pass, making the score 21-0. At that point, the Eagles had outgained the Bears 149-4.
Alex Henery's 49-yard field goal widened the margin to 24-0 before the Bears answered with Robbie Gould's 50-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to make it 24-3.
On the Bears' first play of the second half, Matt Forte was tackled by defensive end Cedric Thornton in the end zone for a safety, increasing the Eagles' lead to 26-3. Forte was initially ruled down at the 1 on the play, which originated from the 2, but it was reversed after a replay challenge.
Moments later McCoy spun away from Julius Peppers in the backfield and raced for a 1-yard TD to make it 33-3 midway through the third quarter.
"First off, you have to give credit to them for coming out and bringing it to us," Peppers said. "Then on our end, it was just a poor performance all around."
The Bears climbed to within 33-11 on the final play of the third period as Cutler rifled a 6-yard TD pass to Brandon Marshall and connected with Earl Bennett on the two-point conversion.
But the Eagles closed strong, scoring three more TDs in the fourth quarter on Chris Polk's 10-yard run, Brandon Boykin's 54-yard interception return of a Cutler pass and Brown's 65-yard run.
The Bears struggled mightily on offense, failing to score at least 18 points for the first time all year and allowing a season-high five sacks. Forte was limited to 29 yards on nine carries, while Cutler completed 20 of 35 passes for 222 yards with 1 TD, 1 interception and a 73.8 passer rating.
"My hat goes off to the Eagles because they played well tonight," said left tackle Jermon Bushrod. "It hurts because they came to play and we did not. It is unfortunate because we wanted to proclaim our own destiny and we did not get it done. We worked way too hard to come in and play the way that we did."