The cool, stoic veneer cracked. Jalen Hurts’ hidden, pointed Mr. Spock ears became rounded. Looking up at the Soldier Field scoreboard through an angry puff of his own breath, Hurts showed emotion, grimacing as he walked off the field after throwing the first of his two interceptions on Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Hurts and the Eagles weren’t right early on.
They struggled to move the ball against the Bears’ zone defense, and on one glaring play, took a collective whiff trying to tackle Chicago’s elusive quarterback Justin Fields.
But this is not a team to succumb easily. Hurts’ steely calm may have taken a momentary hiatus, though it didn’t abandon him in the frigid Chicago conditions.
The Eagles braved the elements and the Bears to rebound with a 25-20 victory, moving to 13-1 for the second time in franchise history, tying the 2004 NFC champion Eagles after 14 games.
The Eagles did it through the air offensively, sacking Fields six times while keeping him contained in the pocket.
A.J. Brown had a career-high 181 yards receiving on nine catches, two of which set up Hurts’ 1-yard scores. Brown did not have it easy. Hurts had to land passes in the tight window provided by the excellent job the Bears’ corner Jaylon Johnson did on Brown.
Hurts had some touch issues early on, though found a rhythm to complete 22 of 37 for 315 yards and two interceptions, while scoring three times on runs of 22, 1, and 1 yard.
The Eagles, now 6-0 in one-possession games, are the only undefeated team on the road in the NFL. Owning the tiebreaker over the Minnesota Vikings coupled with the Dallas’ 40-34 overtime loss to Jacksonville, the Eagles could clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a victory at Dallas on Saturday.
Hurts currently has 35 touchdowns combined, tying Randall Cunningham’s 1990 season for the all-time, single-season team record for Eagles quarterbacks.
Hurts took some pounding against the Bears, who have lost seven straight. There were even a few times he was slow getting up.
“I feel good listening to my Anita Baker, giving me some sweet songs to play on the ride home while I watch the tape, learn from it, and move forward,” Hurts said. “It wasn’t the first time I was being slow (getting up) and it won’t be the last. They play a really physical game. And it was really cold, too.
“I think early in the game, personally, I couldn’t feel my hands. It was really cold. I didn’t have good vision on the field personally, and there a lot of different things going on. To be able to persevere through that, it wasn’t something done by myself. You look at the special teams and the plays they made, if you look at the defense, how they showed up after the turnovers and they were able to get the ball to us.”
What sealed the game was Hurts’ 68-yard completion to Brown on third-and-six at the Eagles’ 29 with 5:18 to play. Johnson, as usual, was draped over Brown down the sideline, though Hurts managed the squeeze the ball in and Brown did the rest.
It marked the second time a Hurts-to-Brown reception led to a Hurts’ 1-yard score. With 4:20 to play, Hurts’ 1-yard plunge sealed it, giving the Eagles a 25-13 lead.
Some drama was added when cornerback Darius “Big Play” Slay somehow managed to lose Bears’ receiver Byron Pringle for a 35-yard touchdown with 2:43 to play, pulling the Bears to within 25-20. But the Eagles managed to drain the remaining 2:43 on the ensuing possession.
“In the end, it was about how we believed in one another as a team, and collectively, we all came together as a group, and that’s what we take from this game,” Hurts said. “I learned I need to go when we’re playing in cold conditions to tune myself up for those conditions before we play. I never played in anything that cold.”
Defensive end Haason Reddick recovered a fumble and had two sacks. Linebacker T.J. Edwards caused a fumble, while Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave had two sacks each.
“I think it’s very important that you respect every opponent that you play,” Hurts said. “We knew that was a great team. What I preach to my teammates is not getting caught up in the external stuff. When you keep the main thing the main thing, control what you can, that’s what is important. I know this is a time where everybody is trying to break up this team. Everyone is waiting to see you fail.
“I think we want to continue staying together. That’s what is important to us.”
Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) 0 10 7 8-25
Chicago Bears (3-11) 0 6 7 7-20
Phila. – Jake Elliott 32 FG, 11:50
Chic. – David Montgomery 9 run (kick failed), 6:47
Phila. – Jalen Hurts 22 run (Jake Elliott Kick), :43
Phila. – Hurts 1 run (Elliott Kick), 12:19
Chic. – Montgomery 10 pass from Justin Fields (Cairo Santos Kick), 8:45
Phila. – Hurts 1 run (Hurts run), 4:20
Chic. – Byron Pringle 35 pass from Fields (Santos kick), 2:43