CHICAGO – Nick Foles hit Golden Tate with a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 56 seconds remaining against the NFL’s stingiest defense, lifting the Philadelphia Eagles past the Chicago Bears 16-15 on Sunday in the final wild-card game.
Former Eagles kicker Cody Parkey hit the left upright and then the crossbar with a field-goal attempt from 43 yards with 10 seconds remaining, silencing the raucous crowd.
The defending league champion Eagles (10-7) squeezed into the playoffs by beating Washington and having the Bears (12-5) help them by knocking off Minnesota in the season finale. Philadelphia thanked its benefactor with a 12-play, 60-yard drive on which Foles, the Super Bowl MVP last February, hit six passes.
Philly plays at New Orleans (13-3) next Sunday.
No team has repeated as Super Bowl champion since New England in 2004, and the Eagles are a sixth seed. The last sixth seed to win the NFL title was Green Bay in the 2010 season.
But these Eagles, led by Foles and a defense down to backups at several positions, seem to have that magical touch like last season.
It was a sizzling ending to a game marked by superior defense and several critical mistakes by the Eagles. They had to survive after Tarik Cohen, an All-Pro punt returner, took back the kickoff following Philly’s go-ahead score 35 yards. Mitchell Trubisky completed two passes to get the Bears close enough for Parkey. But his kick took a double deflection and fell harmlessly into the end zone.
He was 11 of 12 in the fourth-quarter on field goals before missing the biggest kick of his career.
BALTIMORE – Los Angeles kept Lamar Jackson grounded, and by the time the rookie got the passing game going it was too late for Baltimore.
Michael Badgley kicked five field goals, and Los Angeles harassed and hounded Jackson during a victory in the opening round of the NFL playoffs.
The Chargers (13-4) will next face the second-seeded New England Patriots (11-5) on the road Sunday. The Chargers last won two games during a single postseason in 2007, when the franchise was in San Diego.
Badgley set a franchise record for field goals in a playoff game. He connected from 21, 53, 40, 34 and 47 yards.
The Chargers built a 23-3 lead in the fourth quarter before Jackson threw two touchdown passes to make it close. Given one final chance to complete the comeback, the 21-year-old Jackson looked every bit like the youngest quarterback to start an NFL playoff game when he lost the ball on his third fumble of the game.
Jackson finished 14 for 29 for 194 yards with an interception. He was sacked seven times.
The Chargers got even for a 22-10 loss two weeks ago to Baltimore (10-7), the AFC North champions.
Cowboys edge Seahawks 24-22; Colts handle Texans 21-7
ARLINGTON, Texas – Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, and the Dallas Cowboys hung on for a 24-22 wild-card win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night.
The playoff win by the Cowboys (11-6) was the first for Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott on their second try after losing a divisional game as rookies two years ago. Dallas will play either New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round next weekend.
The loss ended a run of nine straight victories in playoff openers for the Seahawks (10-7). The Elias Sports Bureau says it was the longest streak in NFL history.
Dallas’ defense, ranked in the top 10 most of the season, mostly kept quarterback Russell Wilson under control and handed him his first loss in four wild-card games.
It was the eighth win in nine games for the Cowboys.
Prescott, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 when the Cowboys lost to Green Bay at home as the top seed in the NFC, threw for 226 yards and had a 1-yard sneak for what appeared to be a clinching score before Tyler Lockett’s 53-yard catch set up a quick Seattle touchdown.
Wilson’s 7-yard scoring pass to J.D. McKissic got the Seahawks within four, and they made it a two-point game on their second 2-point conversion following an injury to kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
But the missing kicker left the Seahawks no good options on an onside kick with 1:18 remaining. Punter Michael Dickson’s drop kick was caught by Cole Beasley at the Dallas 31, sealing the first playoff win for the Cowboys since beating Detroit in the wild-card round in the 2014 season.
HOUSTON – Andrew Luck threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns and Indianapolis raced out to a big lead and cruised over Houston in the wild-card game.
Luck put on a show in his hometown, throwing for 191 yards and two touchdowns before halftime to help the Colts (11-6) build a 21-0 lead.
Running back Marlon Mack had 148 yards and a touchdown for Indianapolis, which advances to face the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round next weekend.
Houston (11-6), which overcame a 0-3 start to win the AFC South, gave up too many big plays and couldn’t get anything going on offense in the first half to fall into the huge hole.
Deshaun Watson, who was sacked an NFL-leading 62 times in the regular season, was sacked three times and hit eight more times in a disappointing playoff debut. He finished with 235 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception.
The Colts, who opened the season 1-5, continued an impressive run by winning their fifth straight and for the 10th time in 11 games. Saturday was their first playoff appearance since the AFC championship game loss at New England in the “Deflategate” game in the 2014 season.