The Eagles received a reality wakeup call Sunday — from a bunch of ornery Bears.
Chicago knocked off visiting Philadelphia 31-26 in a game that really wasn’t that close.
Still, Eagles’ fans should refrain from jumping off the Ben Franklin and Penn Street bridges. It’s a week-to-week league and this coming Thursday the Birds could be spectacular again.
For stretches of the game, Eagles’ fans had to shiver with revulsion, as if a snake had just crawled out of their beer bottle.
The sudden downshift in the game was so startling it had to be orchestrated by a Formula One driver.
It happened right before the half and it reduced what the Birds hoped would be a downpour of points to raindrop strength.
The Eagles were on the Bears’ 4, trailing by 14-13, when Michael Vick’s pass into the end zone, intended for Jeremy Maclin, was tipped in the backfield by defensive tackle Tommie Harris, intercepted by safety Chris Harris (Vick’s first pick this season) and returned to the Bears’ 37. Six plays later, the Bears scored on a 6-yard pass from Jay Cutler to wide receiver Earl Bennett.
If you do the math, what could have been a 20-14 Eagles’ lead suddenly was a 21-13 deficit. The intermission didn’t change the landscape of the algebra. When the Bears took the second-half kickoff and Devin Hester returned it 46 yards, and then Hester got 34 more yards on a catch-and-run play, and then Cutler hit tight end Greg Olsen with a 9-yard touchdown over the outstretched hands of cornerback Dmitri Patterson, well, the rout was on (seriously depleting my supply of commas in the process).
The Eagles ran down like a $2 alarm clock after that as the Bears performed with a fiendish gleam in their eyes.
In contrast, the Birds played like sweet-natured, considerate Christians — loath to offend and slow to command.
Missing injured cornerback Asante Samuel, who could pick the Pope’s pocket during Christmas Midnight Mass, the Eagles made Cutler look like a marksman for a change. He threw for 247 yards and four TDs on just 14 completions.
Meanwhile, Vick took a heavy flogging from a relentless Chicago pass rush. While still flashing some memorable moments, he was rather ordinary much of the time as he missed some throws, seemed reluctant to squeeze the trigger at other times when he appeared to be reading schemes by Braille, and was chased down twice from behind by defensive end Julius Peppers on scrambles. To be fair, Peppers is more fleet than a hippopotamus.
Granted, it wasn’t all dark and sullen until the end. The Bears were willing to trade yards for time, and Vick chewed up acres of real estate by throwing underneath. He finished 29 for 44 for 333 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. And when he rifled a 30-yard TD bullet to tight end Brent Celek, who somehow caught it in the midst of a crowd, the Birds were within 31-26 with 1:48 to go.
Could it be? Could the Eagles suddenly pull a miracle out of the muck?