Here's what we learned from Philadelphia's stirring NFC Wild Card round comeback:
- Cody Parkey confidently split the uprights to give Chicago a 18-16 lead with just seconds remaining. The former Eagles special teamer would have been carried off the field as a conquering hero had Eagles coach Doug Pederson opted against "icing" a kicker who had already misfired on 10 different opportunities this season, including one game in which Parkey was rejected by the upright four times. Teed up for the potential game-winner after Pederson's nerve-wracking timeout, Parkey watched in crumbling disbelief as his second attempt bounced off the left upright, fell upon the cross bar and landed in the end zone with the crushing weight of the Bears' Lombardi Trophy dreams.
- Never let it be said that Nick Foles comes up small in crunch time. For the latest chapter in the reigning Super Bowl MVP's suddenly storybook career, the hero found a new way to save the damsel tied to the railroad tracks with the train bearing down. After Mitchell Trubisky staked Chicago to a 15-10 lead with just under five minutes remaining, Foles led an impressive 12-play, 60-yard answer that left the Eagles in a crucial fourth-down predicament from the 2-yard line. All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack had swallowed up Darren Sproles on back-to-back runs, leading to a third-down pass that was deflected by Pro Bowl corner Kyle Fuller. Sensing the severity of the do-or-die moment, Pederson called a timeout to dial up his best goal-line play. Foles promptly rolled right and found Golden Tate for the go-ahead touchdown, immediately validating Philadelphia's deadline-beating trade for the former Lions receiver.
- An up-and-down performance from Trubisky saw the second-year signal-caller get away with a handful of interceptable passes, run into a sack and scramble shy of the sticks on a pair of third downs. Credit rangy linebacker Nigel Bradham with sniffing out several misdirection plays in his role as a Trubisky spy. With the game on the line, however, the Bears quarterback delivered a standout performance on the team's final two drives. He made big throws to Taylor Gabriel, Josh Bellamy and Allen Robinson on the six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that gave Chicago a five-point lead. Provided a sliver of hope following Foles' go-ahead score, a pressured Trubisky unleashed a back-shoulder beauty that threaded the cornerback-safety turkey hole for a 25-yard completion to Allen Robinson. The two connected for another quick completion to set the stage for a manageable 43-yard field-goal attempt that was twice rejected by the same goalposts.
- The Bears' ballhawking defense forced at least two turnovers for the 12th time this season. The trio of Mack, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman dominated the line of scrimmage, shutting down the Eagles' ground attack. Coordinator Vic Fangio kept Foles off balance throughout the game with zone looks, stunts and timely blitzes. The one missing ingredient was the usually swarming pass rush, which was rendered an afterthought by veteran left tackle Jason Peters and his cohorts on the Eagles offensive line. Had Mack and Hicks found a way to stop Foles on fourth-and-goal, we'd be extolling the league's premier defense for the next week.
- Chicago's offense dearly missed the playmaking ability of tight end Trey Burton, who was deactivated after coming down with a groin injury late in the week. The more lumbering tandem of Adam Shaheen and Ben Braunecker were each found wanting on separate shovel-pass opportunities. Shaheen also failed to make LeBlanc miss in the open field on third down, forcing a Bears punt. Those performances stood in stark contrast to the Eagles tight ends, who came up big in the clutch. Rookie Dallas Goedert played the Robin to Zach Ertz's Batman, beating Adrian Amos for the first touchdown and forcing a Fuller missed tackle to pick up a key third down on the game-winning drive.
- Allen Robinson authored his best performance in a Bears uniform, hauling in 10 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. His double move worked repeatedly against rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox, who had been playing at a high level of late. Robinson's regular-season numbers might have been disappointing in an injury-ravaged season, but his game film from the past few weeks will leave a sweet taste in the coaching staff's mouth for the long offseason ahead.
- Philadelphia's Divisional Round clash with New Orleans is a rematch of the 48-7 debacle in Week 11. Two months later, though, that Eagles team is only faintly recognizable. A white-hot Foles has replaced Carson Wentz under center. Darren Sproles, Golden Tate and Alshon Jeffery have bigger roles in the offense. Michael Bennett and Fletcher Cox are spearheading a pocket-crashing front seven on defense, and the secondary has solidified after a suffering a rash of midseason injuries.
- Chicago lost roughly 30 yards of premium field position inside the red zone when former Bears cornerback Cre'von LeBlanc ripped the ball out of Anthony Miller's hands after the wide receiver had taken three steps and made a football move. While subsequent replay angles showed a catch and fumble, officials stayed with the incomplete call on the field because there was no clear recovery. Operating under the assumption that the pass was broken up rather than fumbled, players from both teams neglected to chase the loose ball. Tre Sullivan dropped an easy interception a few plays later, allowing the Bears to salvage the Parkey field goal for a 6-3 halftime lead.
For inquiring minds and peeved partisans, the NFL's rulebook states as follows: "If there is no video evidence of a clear recovery or the ball going out of bounds, the ruling of incomplete stands."