Eagles 31, Bears 3: Carson Wentz throws 3 touchdowns as Birds improve to 10-1
It was the Eagles' fourth consecutive win by 20-plus points. They can clinch the NFC East in the coming days.
Late in the Eagles' 31-3 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, a dozen players gathered on the sideline and performed the electric slide in unison. It was one of a few choreographed celebrations the Eagles performed. They pretended to pose for family photos. They mimicked bowling pins.
The Eagles ran out of fireworks the last time they played at Lincoln Financial Field. The players planned enough celebrations to satisfy all the touchdowns and turnovers on Sunday afternoon.
A 28-point victory would represent the biggest rout of the year in most seasons. It has become the standard in Philadelphia in 2017. This was the fourth consecutive game the Eagles won by 20-plus points, their longest streak since 2004 — a year they went to the Super Bowl. It was the first time in franchise history they've won three straight games by 28 points or more.
"You don't expect in the NFL to win by multiple touchdowns in a game," tight end Zach Ertz said. "You expect the game to be seven or less, each and every game. …We're a really good football team right now. That's how we're looking at it. We're excited to play each and every week. It doesn't matter who the opponent is. We're just going out there and having fun."
Just how good are they? The Eagles are a league-best 10-1 after their ninth consecutive win and are on the verge of clinching the NFC East. They need Dallas to lose to Washington on Thursday or they must beat Seattle on Sunday.
But the division has appeared to be a foregone conclusion all week. The Eagles have loftier expectations this year, including a first-round bye and potential home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They face a difficult West Coast stretch against Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams during the next two weeks.
It helps to have quarterback Carson Wentz, who is becoming used to watching fourth quarters on the bench. The Eagles pulled him with more than nine minutes remaining in the blowout after he went 23 of 36 for 227 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 29 yards. Wentz has not thrown an interception since Oct. 29.
"This is just Carson being Carson," coach Doug Pederson said. "He's such a competitor and his will, his determination to make things right and the way he can elevate the play around him … has just been incredible."
On Sunday, that included leading a balanced offense that totaled 420 yards with 244 through the air and 176 on the ground. Ertz became the team's first 100-yard receiver, finishing with 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Alshon Jeffery reached the end zone against his former team and had five catches for 52 yards, with Pederson emphasizing getting Jeffery the ball early. LeGarrette Blount led running backs with 15 carries for 97 yards.
But the Eagles didn't need that offensive output with the way the defense played. They allowed only three points and it was their second consecutive game without letting a team in the end zone. There have been only two touchdowns scored against the defense in the last four games. That's a big reason that the Eagles have such significant margins of victory.
The emphasis on Sunday was to bottle up a Bears rushing offense that ranked fifth in the NFL entering the game with 131.8 yards per game. They totaled only six rushing yards on Sunday, and their three running backs combined for minus-6 yards on nine carries. That made the Bears one-dimensional, leaving rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to throw two interceptions. His quarterback rating was 38.3.
"They are one of the best defenses that I have ever played against," Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long said of the Eagles.
After the Eagles were forced to punt on their opening drive, Donnie Jones didn't return to punt for the rest of the half. The scoring started on the second drive when Wentz found Ertz for a 17-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead, and the Eagles didn't know then that those were the only points they would need.
The Bears' best opportunity to remain in the game came when the Eagles fumbled twice in the first quarter — on Malcolm Jenkins' interception when he gave the ball right back, and on a 35-yard run by Blount on the first play after the Bears missed a field goal. Those were two of four Eagles fumbles, three of which were lost. It was the most noticeable blemish on the team's performance.
"It's unacceptable," Pederson said. "Can't do it."
But Chicago had no points to show for either Eagles turnover, and the Eagles started their rout from there when they exploded for 17 second-quarter points.
Nelson Agholor caught a 15-yard touchdown pass in which he jumped over a Bears defender at the 4-yard line and flipped into the end zone. Jake Elliott returned from last week's concussion with a 45-yard field goal. And Jeffery's fifth score in four games came before halftime, letting the Bears know the type of talent they lost. The offensive diversity continued on Sunday with seven players catching passes and three running backs carrying the ball.
"Any given week someone can be our leading rusher or leading receiver," Wentz said. "I think that's just what makes us so dynamic on offense."
With a 24-0 halftime lead, the Eagles could have started to think about next week's game against Seattle. A third-quarter Chicago field goal broke the shutout — "we were [ticked] on the sideline because of the field goal," cornerback Jalen Mills said — and the Eagles added a touchdown in the fourth quarter to build the 28-point lead. But the score came in an unconventional way.
Jay Ajayi was stripped at the 5-yard line while being tackled at end of a 30-yard rush. Agholor jumped on the loose ball in the end zone. It was that kind of afternoon for the Eagles. It also has been that kind of season. They now enter the final month with more promise than any Eagles team in a decade, and ample opportunity to demonstrate more celebrations.
"Everybody wants to talk about the record and everything, but we know we haven't accomplished what we set out to do so far," Jenkins said. "So while everyone is having fun and singing our praises, we're nowhere near where we want to get to."
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