What did you expect?
The Eagles ran for 176 yards, Carson Wentz threw for three touchdowns and the Philly defense held its second straight opponent out of the end zone in Sunday afternoon’s 31-3 win over the Bears, lifting the Birds to 10-1 on the year and a week away from clinching an NFC title.
With an intimidating pair of west coast games looming in Weeks 13 and 14, the Eagles took care of business and then some in Week 12. Here are three things we learned:
Keeping drives alive
On their second drive, a successful fourth and one run (the Eagles entered Sunday second in the NFL on fourth down) by Jay Ajayi led to a third and nine completion to Alshon Jeffery and eventually a 17-yard Carson Wentz to Zach Ertz touchdown pass. Ertz would catch 10 passes for 103 yards and become Philly’s first 100-yard receiver on the year.
In one of his remarkably common works of magic Wentz scrambled for 16 yards on third and nine later in the second, the scamper set up a 15-yard screen pass for a touchdown to Nelson Agholor and a 14-0 lead. The Birds went for it a second time in the first half, a Wentz lunge propelling the Eagles down the field and — after yet another third down scrambling first — he found Jeffery for a touchdown. Philly led 24-0 at the half.
The bubble finally bust, after a Wentz fourth-and-1 converstion led to an incomplete pass on a second fourth down attempt three plays later.
As the ball turns
Malcolm Jenkins had an interception Sunday but coughed the ball up to the Bears on the return, evening out the turnover ratio in the early going. The differential didn’t take long to tilt in Chicago’s favor after a 35-yard LeGarrette Blount sprint resulted in Adrian Amos forcing a fumble, recovered by Sam Acho. The mistake didn’t cost Philly though, as Cairo Santos missed a field goal try. It wouldn’t be the first time Blount would fumble, as Chicago recovered a loose ball late in the fourth.
A near turnover was forced by Brandon Graham, who strip sacked Mitchell Trubinsky before the Bears recovered the loose ball.
Another near turnover followed Jay Ajayi as he sprinted for the end zone 30 yards in the fourth, fumbling the ball forward at the five yard line. The ball was recovered in the end zone by Agholor for a touchdown and a 31-3 lead. Corey Graham’s late-game interception — and 58-yard return slammed the door on Chicago’s best scoring try.
No one expected the Bears offense to do much against Philly’s stout defense, but sporting the No. 5 rushing offense in the NFL, led by Jordan Howard, most expected a tougher battle up front. Instead, the Eagles held Chicago to negative-5 yards on the ground on 14 tries.
The Bears didn’t get their first first down of the game until a minute had passed in the third quarter. Prior to that, Philadelphia had forced six punts in a row and held Chicago to just 33 total yards of offense.
In all, complete domination characterized a defensive unit that was able to overcome 70 penalty yards and help the Eagles offense stay on the field for 38:22 minutes.