(Reuters) - The Philadelphia Eagles destroyed Chicago’s hopes of clinching a playoff berth on Sunday in a 54-11 blowout that sends both teams into a winner-take-all season finale next week.
The Bears (8-7) could have clinched the NFC North with a victory, but their chance slipped away quickly in Philadelphia where the Eagles scored the game’s first 24 points and kept piling on.
Philadelphia (9-6) were already heading to a season-ending matchup with Dallas (8-7) that will determine the NFC East title and a postseason spot, and could have chosen to rest their players.
Instead, they played fast and furious from the opening kickoff to earn their most lopsided triumph of the season.
“It says a lot about the character of this team that we would go out and play as hard as we did tonight,” Eagles guard Evan Mathis told reporters. “It would have been easy for us to take the night off, but that’s not what this team is all about.”
Chicago will have their own division and the playoffs at stake when they host a winner-take-all against Green Bay (7-7-1) next week.
The Bears will need to recover from their latest setback, which saw the Eagles run all over them for 289 rushing yards.
LeSean McCoy led the charge with 133 yards and two scores on the ground, while Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles tossed for 230 yards and two scores.
Jay Cutler, returning to start in his second straight game for Chicago since he missed four straight with injury, completed just 20 of 35 passes with a touchdown and an interception.
He was sacked five times and did not get the Bears into the end zone until the final seconds of the third quarter where their deficit was 33-11.
“We didn’t play Bears football, and that’s probably the most frustrating thing, especially with what was at stake,” said Bears linebacker Jon Bostic.
“We know we’re better than what we showed tonight.”
Philadelphia added 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to punctuate the rout.
Brandon Boykin returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown and Bryce Brown added a 65-yard run to set off the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field.
Brown finished with 115 yards rushing.
His Eagles team mate McCoy is on the verge of winning the NFL’s rushing title as his 1,476 yards leads Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles by 189.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Sudipto Ganguly/Peter Rutherford