CHICAGO—The Philadelphia Eagles needed help to get into the playoffs—and Chicago provided it.
Look how the defending Super Bowl champions repaid the Bears.
Nick Foles hit Golden Tate with a two-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 56 seconds to go against the NFL's stingiest defence, lifting the Philadelphia Eagles past the Chicago Bears 16-15 last night in the final wild-card game.
Former Eagles' kicker Cody Parkey hit the left upright and then the crossbar with a field-goal attempt from 43 yards with 10 seconds left, silencing the raucous crowd.
The key, of course, was how the Eagles—even when they are messing up—never give up. On Parkey's kick, several Eagles said defensive tackle Treyvon Hester touched it.
“I think the big thing is we saw some adversity tonight in the first half [and] I had a couple of turnovers,” Foles said.
“I think the big thing is that no one loses faith, no one stops believing, everyone just keeps talking, keeps believing in one another, and we just rallied,” he added.
“Our defence really kept us in this game.”
The defending champion Eagles (10-7) squeezed into the playoffs by beating Washington last Sunday while having the Bears (12-5) help them by knocking off Minnesota in the season-finale.
Philadelphia thanked its benefactor with a 12-play, 60-yard drive on which Foles, the Super Bowl MVP last February, hit six passes.
Tate made a reaching grab in the right side of the end zone near the goal line.
“We found a way,” Tate said.
“That's playoff football right there for you," he added. "That's why we play this game for times like now once you get to January and February.”
Philly now plays at New Orleans (13-3) on Sunday while Dallas visits the L.A. Rams this coming Saturday.
The Cowboys advanced by edging the fifth-seeded Seattle Seahawks 24-22 on Saturday night in the other NFC wild-card game.
Meanwhile, Chicago's sensational turnaround season from last place to the NFC North title is over.
“We wanted to write our story and start it off,” Bears' second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said.
“But it does not always go the way you want it to and that's life, that's football.”
No team has repeated as Super Bowl champion since New England in 2004, and the Eagles are a sixth seed.
The last sixth seed to win the NFL title was Green Bay in the 2010 season; the Packers won the NFC championship at Soldier Field that season.
These Eagles, led by Foles once again replacing an injured Carson Wentz, and a defence down to back-ups at several positions, seem to have that magical touch like last season.
It was a sizzling ending to a game marked by superior defence and several critical mistakes by the Eagles. They had to survive after Tarik Cohen, an All-Pro punt returner, took back the kick-off following Philly's go-ahead score 35 yards.
Trubisky completed two passes to get the Bears close enough for Parkey. But his kick took a double deflection and fell harmlessly into the end zone.
He was 11-of-12 in the fourth-quarter on field goals before missing the biggest kick of his career.
“Obviously, we're just hoping for a miss,” Foles said.
“This was a hard-fought game," he added. "That's an amazing team we just played against and it came down to the wire.”