Eagles fire warning shot

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PHILADELPHIA – That should get Dallas' attention.

The Eagles didn't have to play like that. They didn't have to hang half a hundred on Chicago. They didn't have to rack up 514 yards of offense or gain 9.0 yards per pass play or hold the Bears to 5-of-14 on third downs.

Chicago was playing for everything. Philadelphia was playing for nothing. With a win, the Bears would take the NFC North. With a win, the Eagles would gain nothing but momentum. And yet Philadelphia trounced the Bears 54-11 by scoring every way imaginable: on the ground, in the air, a long field goal, a safety and an interception return for a touchdown. It was a thorough whipping.

And certainly Dallas noticed.

The NFC East championship game will be Sunday night at Jerry World, and Philadelphia will go in with as much momentum as a team on a one-game winning streak could have. All season, the Eagles had been trying to score 50 points. It was a goal. And against a Bears team that is awful against the run, they succeeded in dominating fashion.

Nick Foles was dialed in. He completed 21 of 25 passes for 230 yards, two touchdowns and a 131.7 passer rating. Three of Foles' incomplete passes came when he was trying to throw the ball away. He was poised. He was careful with the football. He froze defensive backs with pump fakes. He thrived in play action.

Foles had as good of an all-around game as he has had since becoming the Eagles' full-time starter. Seven Eagles caught passes, including tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz and running back LeSean McCoy.

And the Eagles' running game thrived. McCoy rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns. McCoy's backup,  Bryce Brown, rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Brown's backup,  Chris Polk, rushed for a touchdown.

The Eagles completely dominated on offense. They won the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The defense harassed Jay Cutler all day, eventually chasing him out of the game in the fourth quarter. Punter Donnie Jones didn't get much work, but when he did, he pinned the Bears deep in their own territory.

For a team that had lost 48-30 at Minnesota the week before, this meant something.

Few would have blamed Chip Kelly if he had approached the Bears game as an exhibition. He could have rested his starters. He could have protected his stars from the possibility of injury. He could have played for next week. It would have been disingenuous – because Kelly has programmed his players to view each game as a one-week season and to not look ahead – but certainly understandable.

"Very simply, we're from Philadelphia, and we fight," Kelly said. "That's it. If there's a game on, we're playing. End of the story."

It was a corny bit of collegiate rah-rah, but the point was well taken. Fighting against Chicago accomplished a number of things, intended or not. First, it got the Eagles on the winning track. They had a chance to extend their lead over Dallas last week against the Vikings and stumbled big time. This eradicated that.

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