Eagles edge Bears, Chargers oust Ravens in NFL playoff thrillers
Bears kicker Cody Parkey clanked a 43-yard field goal attempt off the left upright and crossbar with five seconds remaining as the Eagles sealed a 16-15 victory at Chicago
Defending Super Bowl champions Philadelphia edged the Chicago Bears and the Los Angeles Chargers ousted Baltimore from the championship chase in two NFL playoff thrillers.
Bears kicker Cody Parkey clanked a 43-yard field goal attempt off the left upright and crossbar with five seconds remaining as the Eagles sealed a 16-15 victory at Chicago.
"It came down to the wire. We were just hoping for a miss," said Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.
"The big thing is we saw some adversity in the first half with a couple turnovers but no one loses faith. We were able to rally behind our defense and we were able to get the win."
The Chargers seized a 20-point lead but needed a turnover in the final seconds to thwart a Ravens fightback and claim a 23-17 first-round triumph at Baltimore.
"Our defense was unbelievable," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We couldn't get anything but field goals early on offense but we finally got it done. It was a great team win."
The Eagles booked a trip to top seed New Orleans next Sunday with the other National Conference playoff matchup sending the Dallas Cowboys to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.
The Chargers have a second-round date next Sunday at New England while top seed Kansas City will entertain the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday in the other American Conference contest.
Mitch Trubisky drove Chicago 80 yards and connected with Allen Robinson on a 22-yard touchdown pass for a 15-10 Bears lead with 9:04 remaining, but Chicago failed on a 2-point conversion run.
Foles, last year's Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, drove the Eagles to Chicago's 2-yard line, where the NFL's stingiest defenders at allowing points denied two runs and a pass to set up a tension-packed fourth-down all-or-nothing play.
Foles hit Golden Tate with a 2-yard touchdown pass for a 16-15 Eagles lead with 56 seconds remaining but a 2-point conversion run failed, giving Chicago a final chance.
"I just waited on my opportunity. I just tried to make a play and it worked out," Tate said. "A great collective effort. We found a way."
But the drama wasn't over. Trubisky marched the Bears downfield where Parkey was foiled the first time when the Eagles called timeout just before the snap to negate a kick he booted down the middle between the uprights.
On the next attempt, Parkey struck an upright for the fifth time this season and saw the ball bounce off the crossbar before falling on the wrong side for the Bears.
Jake Elliott's 43-yard field goal had put the Eagles ahead only 5:23 into the game but Parkey answered from 36 and 29 yards for a 6-3 Bears half-time lead.
Foles tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter to put the Eagles in front 10-6.
The 83-yard, seven-play touchdown march was aided by two key penalties against Bears defenders, a third-down unnecessary roughness call on Adrian Amos sustaining the drive and a 33-yard pass interference call against Prince Amukamara, a cornerback of Nigerian heritage, putting the ball at the Chicago 10-yard line.
But the Bears rallied to reclaim the lead, starting with Parkey's 34-yard field goal with 14:13 remaining to pull Chicago within 10-9.
At Baltimore, the Ravens fell behind 23-3 on rookie Mike Badgley's fifth field goal, a 47-yarder with 9:14 to play.
Baltimore rookie Lamar Jackson, who became the youngest quarterback in NFL playoff history on the eve of his 22nd birthday, threw touchdown passes of 7 and 31 yards to Michael Crabtree to pull the Ravens within the final margin.
Jackson got the ball back with 45 seconds remaining but Uchenna Nwosu, a Chargers linebacker of Nigerian descent, knocked loose a fumble from him and Melvin Ingram recovered for Los Angeles to secure the victory.
"We just come out and play assignment football. We have to come out and play together," Ingram said. "Any squad. Any place. We don't care."
The Ravens fumbled three times in their first eight plays from scrimmage, an Ingram recovery setting up the first Badgley field goal from 21 yards. He added kicks of 53, 40 and 34 yards for a 12-0 Chargers half-time lead.
Baltimore's Justin Tucker kicked a 33-yard field goal but was wide right from 50 yards, his first career playoff miss after making nine in a row, and LA responded with a 60-yard touchdown drive capped by Melvin Gordon's 1-yard run and a 2-point conversion pass from Rivers to Mike Williams for a 20-3 Chargers lead.
Updated: January 7, 2019 12:09 PM