Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Believe It!

Posted by Eric Fisher On December 30

The story was too good to end Sunday.

Correction: the story is too good to end.

The Eagles and quarterback Nick Foles will continue their remarkable and improbable journeys beyond the regular season after the Eagles dominated the host Redskins, 24-0, while the Bears, who had already clinched a playoff berth, provided essential help with a 24-10 victory over the host Vikings, who would have clinched the second NFC wild card and prevented the Eagles from reaching the playoffs by beating the Bears.

The Bears will quickly be transformed from friends to foes. The Eagles, the defending Super Bowl champions, will open the playoffs against the Bears next Sunday (4:40 p.m.) at Soldier Field.

“The bottom line is we gave ourselves an opportunity,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “We’re excited to continue our season.”

Foles ties NFL record, but suffers injury

It’s particularly exciting for some Eagles who are likely in their final season with the team. That list includes Foles, who added to his legend by tying an NFL record Sunday with 25 consecutive completions.

“I want to wear that jersey one more time – and hopefully more,” Foles said.

There is some question, however, whether Foles will be able to play against the Bears and, if so, what type of condition he’ll be in. Foles left Sunday’s game early in the fourth quarter with what was described as a chest injury. He was also drilled in the chest the previous week by the Texans’ Jadeveon Clowney, drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty, at the beginning of the Eagles’ game-winning drive. A report after the game said Foles has bruised ribs.

“It’s sore, but I’m optimistic,” said Foles, who added that he’ll know more about the injury on Monday.

Returning from an injury would merely be another incredible chapter in Foles’ riveting story. From his magnificent 27-touchdown, 2-interception season with the Eagles to flirting with retirement after being released by the Rams, and from his return with the Andy Reid’s Chiefs, with Pederson as offensive coordinator, to replacing Carson Wentz last season and being named Super Bowl MVP, Foles’ story is remarkable.

Eagles’ overcome adversity

But this season has also been an incredible journey for the entire team. After an embarrassing 48-7 loss to the Saints dropped the Eagles to 4-6, few gave them a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. They hadn’t won two games in a row all season and didn’t display any signs of altering their fortunes.

The Eagles fell behind in their next game, 19-3, but rallied to defeat the Giants, 25-22. It can argued that each of the Eagles’ past two seasons turned around with a pivotal victory over the Giants, with a Jake Elliott field goal providing the winning points both times.

The victory over the Giants began a stretch in which the Eagles won five of six games, with the only loss coming in overtime against the Cowboys. The Eagles followed the loss to the Cowboys with victories over the Rams and Texans, who won the NFC West and AFC South divisions, respectfully.

“After the Dallas loss, and it was a tough loss, we had a choice to either fall down or stand up,” Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett said in an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Derrick Gunn, “and we all stood up.”

Following the overtime loss to the Cowboys, the Eagles learned that Wentz had a stress fracture in his back. That’s when Foles stepped up to the plate for the second consecutive season.

“If you stick together, if you lean on one another,” Foles said, “you can do great things.”

The Eagles overcame a lot of adversity to win the Super Bowl last season. Left tackle Jason Peters, running back Darren Sproles, linebacker Jordan Hicks and Wentz were among the key players who suffered season-ending injuries. The Eagles, with Foles as the starting quarterback, were underdogs in every playoff game.

The Eagles may once again be perennial playoff underdogs this year. That will certainly be true if Foles isn’t able to play next Sunday. If that were the case, either Wentz would have to make a remarkable recovery or the Eagles would turn over the reins to Nate Sudfeld.

Time to smile

Sudfeld completed a touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor after entering the game to replace Foles (28 of 33, 221 yards, 2 TDs). It was Agholor’s second touchdown reception of the game, the first time he’s achieved that feat during his career.

The touchdown will be memorable because of what happened afterward. Agholor presented the ball to a young Eagles fan wearing a Nick Foles jersey. But Sudfeld wanted the football because it was the first touchdown pass of his career. A deal was made with the young fan, who received a replacement football in exchange for the one he gave to Sudfeld.

“That touchdown won’t mean as much (in the future),” Agholor said with a smile, “because he’s going to throw a lot more of them.”

The Eagles could smile and laugh after Sunday’s victory because the Bears helped them out. But they don’t have much time to bask in the glory of their victory.

They await the important medical news about Foles, which is supposed to come on Monday. And they have to get ready for the Bears, who have a tremendous defense.

But the most important thing is the Eagles have provided themselves with the opportunity to extend their remarkable journey yet another week.

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