Eagles lose 34-13 to Bengals
With one turnover after another, the Philadelphia Eagles looked every bit of the laughingstock they've been this year.
Andy Dalton threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, an opportunistic defense forced five turnovers and the Cincinnati Bengals beat Philadelphia 34-13 on Thursday night.
"Mistakes lose you football games," rookie quarterback Nick Foles said. "We have to protect the ball."
The Eagles' season was lost a long time ago. They fell to 4-10, losing double-digit games for the first time since 2005, the year after losing the Super Bowl to New England.
There were plenty of empty seats at the Linc, where fans are hoping this is Andy Reid's final season as coach. Reid led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles and five NFC championship games in his first 13 years. But the Eagles will miss the playoffs for the second straight year and owner Jeffrey Lurie already said 8-8 would be "unacceptable."
"Five turnovers, 31 points. That says it all," Reid said. "Guys played hard, but you can't have those turnovers. You have to take care of the ball. Guys have to do it. I take full responsibility for them."
The Bengals (8-6) took a half-game lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers for the last playoff spot in the AFC. But their game at Pittsburgh next week is far more important in the standings than this one.
The Bengals would clinch their second straight playoff berth with a win over the Steelers if Pittsburgh loses at Dallas this Sunday. A loss to the Steelers, though, likely would ruin Cincinnati's chances.
"We've got nothing to celebrate here," coach Marvin Lewis said. "But we won and we do have some time to get ready for Pittsburgh."
An interception by Leon Hall set up Dalton's go-ahead 11-yard TD run in the third quarter. Then Wallace Gilberry picked up Bryce Brown's fumble and ran it back 25 yards for another score and an 11-point lead.
"We win as a team, we lose as a team," said Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who replaced Juan Castillo after six games. "We lost as a team today."
BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 106 yards, including a 1-yard TD run in the first quarter for Cincinnati. Dalton tossed a 5-yard TD pass to A.J. Green in the fourth to cap a 24-point outburst in a span of 3:23.
The Eagles committed three turnovers on three straight possessions at one point and then fumbled a kickoff when defensive lineman Cedric Thornton let the ball fall through his hands on a short kick.
They also had a punt blocked when their own guy was pushed into the punter.
"It has to be a bigger sense of not just yourself but of the organization," wide receiver Jason Avant said. "When you're carrying the football, you're representing the Eagles fans, you're representing Mr. Lurie, you're representing the coaching staff. I think it has to become more than just about you. When you carry that football, you're representing a whole bunch of people, and I don't think we have that mindset all the time."
After beating Tampa Bay on a last-second TD last week to snap an eight-game losing streak, the Eagles tried to make it two in a row. Turnovers got in their way again. They've committed an NFL-high 34 and forced just 12 all season.
The Eagles snapped a drought of 22 quarters without a turnover by recovering two fumbles in the second. Both led to field goals by Alex Henery, helping Philadelphia to a 13-10 halftime lead.
Foles made his fifth straight start for Michael Vick, who just returned to practice this week after sustaining a concussion on Nov. 11. Foles threw for 182 yards, one TD and one interception.
Down 13-10, the Bengals started their rally with a turnover.
Hall intercepted Foles' deep pass and returned it 44 yards to the Eagles 40. Foles underthrew Jeremy Maclin, who was a few steps behind Hall.
Green made an acrobatic catch for an 11-yard gain on third-and-9 a few plays before Dalton ran for the score to put the Bengals up 17-13.
Foles, who threw for 381 yards to lead that comeback against the Bucs, hit Riley Cooper on an 11-yard TD pass to cut it to 10-7. Foles connected with Maclin on a 46-yard pass during the drive.
The Eagles then forced their first turnover since Nov. 5 against New Orleans. Brandon Graham sacked Dalton, the ball popped loose and Trent Cole recovered at the Bengals 29.
Just two plays in, Maclin fumbled after a 6-yard catch. Carlos Dunlap recovered and the Bengals started at the Eagles 44. Green-Ellis ran 29 yards on first down and scored a few plays later for a 7-0 lead.
It got uglier for Philadelphia on the next possession. Mat McBriar punted into wide receiver Marvin McNutt, Daniel Herron picked it up and ran 3 yards to the Eagles 11. But Graham sacked Dalton and Cincinnati settled for Brown's 24-yard field goal that made it 10-0.
The Eagles were again without running back LeSean McCoy and tight end Brent Celek also sat out. Both players also are recovering from concussions. McCoy missed his fourth straight game, but returned to practice this week with Vick.
NOTES: The Eagles had a season-high six sacks. They have eight in two games since defensive-line coach Jim Washburn was fired after notching 20 in first 12 games. .... Bowles confirmed he interviewed for the coaching vacancy at Temple, his alma mater.
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