Cunningham stars as Eagles hold off Bears' rally, 30-22

September 13, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- This was quite a coming-out party, in front of Dan, Al, Frank and a national television audience.

Quarterback Randall Cunningham, who had roused suspicion that he was finished with a shaky preseason and a paranoid season opener, was near his old form last night in leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a 30-22 win over the Chicago Bears at Veterans Stadium.

Cunningham, 31, seldom threw deep, and he didn't leap over any defenders in a single bound, but he looked cool and comfortable in the Eagles' short drop-back, quick-release offense.

Cunningham completed 24 of 36 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns. The performance may have erased some doubts about Cunningham, who missed the final 12 games last season with a knee injury, his second career-threatening leg injury in three years.

"Tonight's game was a big confidence builder," Cunningham said. "I'm getting more and more comfortable, getting into a flow with this offense. I didn't play badly last week, but I think I got better as the game went along, and it carried over into tonight's game. I haven't peaked yet, and I expect to get better each week."

Last night marked the first time in his 10-year pro career that Cunningham has thrown for more than 300 yards in consecutive games.

"Randall played a great, great game," receiver Fred Barnett said. "He is our leader and capable of putting a lot of points on the board. I think he knew it was Monday night, a great team, and he had to have a great performance. He was very focused."

Cunningham was far from sensational in the Eagles' 28-23 season-opening loss to the New York Giants in which he completed 20 of 39 passes for 344 yards. He overthrew and short-hopped receivers. He didn't know when to run or throw, at times trying to shield his legs from another injury. Even his teammates quietly questioned his ability.

But last night with nearly seven minutes left and a 30-7 lead, most of the crowd of 64,068 had started filing out of the stadium.

The Bears' only answers to the Eagles and Cunningham were three fourth-quarter touchdown receptions. Curtis Conway had a 22-yarder with 12:15 left and one of 85 yards with 5:53 left. The last one came with 3:35 left, a 16-yard pass from quarterback Erik Kramer to tight end Marv Cook.

"Was I scared late in the fourth quarter? You bet," Eagles offensive tackle Antone Davis said. "When you let a 30-point lead go to waste in this league, nobody let's you forget it, the other teams, your coaches and even your wife."

"I'm happy we bounced back," Eagles coach Rich Kotite said. "We played 50 minutes of great football. We almost let it get away, but it was the greatest first half, even three quarters, of football I've ever been associated with. It came against a great, well-coached Chicago Bears team. We put pressure on the quarterback, and I was pleased with our offensive tempo, the way we handled the pressure and controlled the blitzes.

"We made plays, big plays, and made them with consistency," Kotite added. "Randall played within himself, and I was glad to see him get in that rhythm. I thought it was just a matter of time. Last week I thought we had guys open all over the place, and we missed them. This time we found them."

Chicago moved from its 23 to the Eagles' 49 on its second possession, but the drive stalled there. Halfback Lewis Tillman gained 4 yards on a first-down run, but the Bears' Kramer failed to complete his next two passes, one that was almost intercepted by linebacker Byron Evans.

The Eagles went 83 yards on 11 plays on their next possession for a touchdown and 7-0 lead. In the drive, Cunningham completed passes of 2, 8, 21, 19, 15 and 9 yards.

Cunningham finished the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Calvin Williams, from Dunbar High, on a short fade route that gave Philadelphia a 7-0 lead with 3:19 left in the first quarter.

The Eagles scored on their next possession on a 68-yard drive. They mixed the run and pass perfectly, blending the rushes of Herschel Walker and fellow running back James Joseph with quick, drop-back passes from Cunningham.

Williams and Cunningham hooked up on a 19-yard pass over the middle to the Bears' 16, and three plays later Cunningham found Williams in the left corner of the end zone for a 14-yard score with 12:06 left in the second quarter.

Philadelphia made it 21-0 in the second quarter when Cunningham threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Maurice Johnson.

STRIKE SETTLEMENT

A look at the highest-paid Redskins players in 1987, and what they will receive not including interest as part of yesterday's settlement.

Player, Pos. .. .. .. Base salary .. Lost in strike .. Settlement

Jay Schroeder, QB ... $800,000 .. .. $200,000 .. .. .. $50,000

George Rogers, RB ... $665,000 .. .. $166,625 .. .. .. $41,656

Kelvin Bryant, RB ... $600,000 .. .. $150,000 .. .. .. $37,500

Art Monk, WR .. .. .. $600,000 .. .. $150,000 .. .. .. $37,500

R. C. Thielemann, OL. $500,000 .. .. $125,000 .. .. .. $31,250

Doug Williams, QB ... $475,000 .. .. $118,750 .. .. .. $29,687

Dave Butz, DT . .. .. $450,000 .. .. $112,500 .. .. .. $28,125

Joe Jacoby, OT ... .. $405,000 .. .. $101,250 .. .. .. $25,312

Darrell Green, CB ... $400,000 .. .. $100,000 .. .. .. $25,000

Dexter Manley, DE ... $360,000 .. ... $90,000 .. .. .. $22,500 Note: All except Green no longer are with the team.

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