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Eagles vs Bears: The Grades

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When you call a game a “must-win’’, you better win it and you better play well to win it.

Donovan McNabb did just that in leading the Eagles past his hometown Chicago Bears, 24-20, Sunday night.

McNabb got help from a balanced attack, but he certainly outplayed his counterpart Jay Cutler in helping the Eagles get to 6-4 and stay in both the race for the NFC East title or a wild-card berth.

Here’s how the Eagles graded out in their win over the Bears.

Passing Offense: McNabb played smart. After an early interception on what looked like a miscommunication between him and DeSean Jackson, he simply took what the Bears gave him. He completed 23 of 32 passes for 244 yards with two touchdowns for a QB rating of 101.6. He threw a great pass to Jason Avant for his first touchdown and found Jackson behind the Bears defense for his second. Jackson caught eight balls for 107 yards, while Jeremy Maclin had six for 64, as McNabb used just five receivers on the night. Michael Vick came in and completed one pass to tight end Brent Celek for no gain.

Grade: B+

Rushing Offense: Once again the Eagles showed they can run the ball well when Andy Reid decided that’s the way he wants to go. LeSean McCoy, again showing he’s for real, carried 20 times for 99 yards and the game-winning touchdown from 10 yards out. McCoy had a costly fumble, which was more of a great play by the Bears, but came right back. The rookie still needs to make better reads at time, but his cutback ability and his running style through and around bodies makes up for a lot of mistakes. The rest of the Eagles had 10 carries for 59 yards, including a 34-yard run by Vick that set up the team’s first score.

Grade: B

Passing Defense: Jay Cutler stinks. Let’s be honest that trade the Bears made in which they sent Kyle Orton, two No. 1 picks and a No. 3 pick for Cutler and a No. 5 pick will go down as one of the worst in league history. Cutler just cannot win. Sunday night he tried so hard not to make mistakes, he missed open receivers, threw to the wrong receiver and put up a quarterback rating of 63.2. Given one last chance to win the game, he threw his only interception of the night on a ball tipped by linebacker Tracy White and caught by safety Sean Jones. The Eagles played with a depleted secondary, after losing their No. 3 and No. 4 corners, Asante Samuel missed most of the night with an injury and Sheldon Brown played as much as he could with a torn hamstring. Dimitri Patterson was on the field almost the whole night and played well, except for a defensive holding penalty that kept alive a Bears drive. Trent Cole was a beast up front, making plays against the run and the pass and showing Chicago left tackle Orlando Pace why the Rams released him.

Grade: A-

Rushing Defense: The Bears came into the game with the 30th ranked rushing defense and the Eagles entered with the ninth best rushing defense, so this should have been a landslide. It wasn’t quite that one sided. Kahlil Bell gashed the Eagles for a 72-yard run on his first NFL carry, which skews the numbers a bit. Matt Forte, the Bears primary ballcarrier was held to 34 yards on 14 carries. Still there was no excuse for Bell’s run. The Eagles newest set of linebackers played well, mainly because the Bears did not have the weapons to expose them. Will Witherspoon began slowly with a penalty and a missed tackle on a play that should have been stopped short of a first down, but turned into a 19-yard gain, but turned it up in the second half and was all over the field making plays. This was an excellent pickup.

Grade: B

Special Teams: Talk about enigmas and you have the Eagles special teams.

Antonio Dixon’s block on Rob Gould’s 48-yard field-goal attempt turned out to be huge.

Sav Rocca’s 16-yard punt, which became an 11-yarder when the Eagles also had a five-yard penalty on the play was very small.

In between the Eagles allowed 30.8 yards on kickoff returns, but kept Devin Hester  to just 5.3 yards on punt returns.

Victor “Macho’’ Harris had a decent 25.2 yard average on kickoff returns, filling in for the injured Quintin Demps, who was going to fill in for the injured Ellis Hobbs. Big-play man Jackson had another plus-50 play, with a 53-yard punt return.

Rocca, who had started to punt well before Sunday, had an off-night at Soldier Field. David Akers made his only field goal try from 25 yards, and all of his extra points.

Grade: C

thumbnail: (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

homepage: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast