Monday was not the Bears' night.
Monday is hardly ever the Bears' night.
You can bring in a half-dozen free agents, create a whole new backfield and try to establish a different attitude. But something ugly usually happens when players dress up in Bears uniforms on Monday night.
This Monday it was the Philadelphia Eagles, a team the Bears have dominated any other day of the week, who took advantage of the doomed visitors at Veterans Stadium, winning their eighth straight home Monday night contest.
"I love it and my players love it," said Eagles coach Rich Kotite of their Monday night magic.
Randall Cunningham enjoyed the 11th 300-yard passing game in his career and his first back-to-back 300-yard performance as the Eagles breezed to a 24-0 halftime lead and 30-0 third-quarter advantage, then held on for a 30-22 victory.
In the Eagles' previous 100 games, only twice had they scored 24 points in a half.
The loss left the Bears 1-1 and tied with every other team in the NFC Central. The Eagles improved to 1-1.
"It was pretty obvious that in all areas Philadelphia made the plays and we didn't," said Bears coach Dave Wannstedt. "We didn't make any plays on offense until the second half. We didn't make any plays on defense. And we gave them plays with our kicking game.
"It wasn't the preparation by our players. They worked hard this week. For whatever reason, we never got on track."
Actually, the Bears did get on track in the fourth quarter as Erik Kramer threw three touchdown passes, two to Curtis Conway. But by then the game was out of hand.
The Bears have not fared well on the road on Monday nights, going 3-17. Overall, they are 12-24 on Monday nights. It was their sixth straight Monday night loss.
The Eagles took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after an 11-play, 83-yard drive capped by an 8-yard pass from Cunningham to Calvin Williams.
Cunningham and Williams hooked up again with 12 minutes 8 seconds left in the second period with a 14-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead.
A 47-yard punt return by Jeff Sydner set the Eagles up at the Bears' 19. Five plays later, Cunningham threw his third touchdown of the night, a 7-yarder to tight end Maurice Johnson.
Cunningham (24 of 36 for 311 yards) had missed 28 games in the last three years because of serious leg injuries, and many of his teammates had questioned his toughness after the Eagles' opening-day 28-23 loss to the New York Giants.
"I don't read the papers and I don't listen to the radio, but a lot of people have been telling me that I've been getting dogged lately," said Cunningham. "It got to the point where I said: `What have I done to get dogged?' A lot of the fans have come up to me and said, `Forget about what everybody is saying. We're behind you 100 percent.' And that kind of lifted me up."
Eddie Murray kicked a 42-yard field goal with :02 left in the half to make it 24-0.
The Eagles had not beaten the Bears in 14 years. The Eagles have won five of their last six Monday night outings. Their last home Monday night defeat was Sept. 10, 1979, against Atlanta.
An 11-play, 79-yard drive to start the third period resulted in a 30-yard Murray field goal and a 27-0 lead. His third field goal of the night was a 34-yarder with 2:41 left in the third period.
"We got a lot of guys hurt," said Wannstedt. "We lost (Kevin) Miniefield and Robert Green (hip), and (Donnell) Woolford got hurt (concussion) on the first series. We tried to scramble around and flipped (cornerback Jeremy) Lincoln over to the other side. Miniefield is a safety and we were working him at corner. That kind of threw us off sync a little bit. But that's not an excuse. It's just how the night went."
Kramer completed only 6 of 15 passes in the first half for 54 yards. But he wound up 18 of 31 for 289 yards.
His first TD strike was a 22-yarder to Conway with 12:15 left in the game.
The Bears pulled within 30-15 when Kramer hooked up with Conway on an 85-yard pass play. Kramer then passed to Conway for the two-point conversion.
An onside kick was recovered by the Eagles, but the Bears' defense dug in.
With 3:35 left, Kramer tossed a 16-yard TD pass to tight end Marv Cook. Kevin Butler converted to make it 30-22.
"I never had a feeling of `We're in trouble,' " said defensive lineman William Fuller, who had one of the Eagles' three sacks. "Obviously, you don't want to finish like that, but we won and that's all that matters.
"They're not going to worry about how you won the game when they're passing out playoff invitations at the end of the year."
Cunningham threw three touchdown passes for the 12th time in his career. He has thrown 21 career TD passes to Williams.
His 80.3 quarterback rating ranks 19th-best in NFL history. And his interception ratio is seventh-best in league history.
The Bears were pleased Cunningham was unable to play against them last October. The Bears beat up on backup quarterback Bubby Brister and emerged with a 17-6 victory at Veterans Stadium.
His broken leg healed, Cunningham was ready for the Bears Monday night, however.
"I said prayers when we walked off the field and had the victory," said Cunningham. "You've got to have faith."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times