PHILADELPHIA — With their offensive line overwhelmed with six Eagles sacks in the first three quarters and quarterback
Which is why it's nice to have a top 10 defense. It pitched another good one in holding the Eagles to 42 yards rushing and made two huge stops in the first half to force field goals from the 3 and 1 when Philly could have easily taken a 21-10 lead at the half instead of 13-10.
At 8-6, the Bengals are a half-game ahead of the Steelers for the second wild card with Pittsburgh heading to Dallas on Sunday while the Bengals enjoy their third day of the three-day weekend before heading to Pittsburgh for the Dec. 23 game that merely means everything.
Trailing 13-10 late in the third quarter, the Bengals playoff hopes were wilting fast as they tried to stop a nine-game losing streak on prime time here at Lincoln Financial Field.
The man of the hour turned out to be cornerback
But the Bengals got it back with running back
Then on Philadelphia's second snap after the score, rookie running back Bryce Brown fumbled as defensive tackle
Then on the next snap, safety
The Bengals went nowhere, but got a life when Brown lined up for a field goal and the Eagles were called for disconcerting signals and Dalton turned it into a five-yard TD fade to Green over cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromatrtie with 12:47 left in the game that made it 34-13. Green finished with six catches for 57 yards and the only Bengals wide receiver with a catch. His touchdown ended a three-game drought. Dalton was 13-of-27 for 127 yards and Green-Ellis had 106 yards on 25 carries.
Following the script of Sunday's stunning loss to the Cowboys but in much more condensed fashion, the Bengals blew a 10-0 lead in the first half with the help of sloppy play in all three phases and suffered their second sack-and strip of Dalton at a devastating moment on the first play after the two-minute warning and fell behind the Eagles at halftime, 13-10.
The defense, which held the Eagles to a field goal after the first sack-and strip, bailed out the offense again. A play after Smith was called for a hold, Eagles defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins came unblocked. Swinging outside from right guard to around left tackle, Jenkins swiped the ball out of Dalton's throwing hand to give the Eagles the ball at the Bengals 12 on the strength of the fourth sack of Dalton.
But with the help of a false start and a pass defensed by middle linebacker
Two series before the Eagles, who came in with just 22 sacks on the season and eight in the previous four games, got their first-sack-and-strip of Dalton and tied the game at 10. Defensive end Brandon Graham pushed aside Smith to bat the ball from Dalton's throwing hand for a fumble Philly recovered at the Bengals 29.
The Eagles moved the ball with the help of a holding call on WILL backer
But the Bengals held at the 3 and Henery's 22-yard field goal with 7:37 left tied it at 10.
Dalton struggled in the half, hitting just eight of 15 passes, the longest of which was 19-yarder to tight end
Bengals go up early
But the Bengals offense couldn't put the Eagles away and the defense let Philly get back into the game when their third offside penalty of the game, this one on SAM backer
After Lawson jumped on second-and-eight, Foles faked a wide receiver screen and hit a wide open Maclin for a 46-yard gain down the middle to set up the touchdown. The Bengals ends, Dunlap and
Foles wasn't exactly Ron Jaworski in the half. He was 12-of-24 for 145 yards and not particularly sharp in the red zone. The Eagles couldn't run it in the half (30 yards on 13 carries), so the only offense was Cincinnati's futility.
Trying to break their tough luck on prime time over the past five years, the Bengals opened on script when Dunlap forced a fumble. Dunlap was all over a wide receiver screen and punched the ball out and defensive tackle
Believing their offensive line to be much bigger than the Eagles defensive front, the Bengals immediately turned to Green-Ellis in an effort to pound the running game and he broke his first carry for a 29-yard gain around the right edge as he followed fullback
After Green reached back to swipe a would-be interception from cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for a seven-yard gain, BJGE punished the Eagles on the next four carries, the first for a push-the-pile five-yard run.
Green-Ellis then secured his 13th conversion on 14 third-and one tries this season for a touchdown behind Pressley that gave the Bengals a 7-0 lead over the Eagles 3:50 into the game.
Enter Herron after the Bengals forced the punt when Hall blanketed Harbor on a deep third-down bomb. Herron, rushing off the edge, then muscled wide receiver Marvin McNutt back into punter Mat McBriar and McNutt's arm blocked the punt and Herron recovered it at the Bengals 11.
But Cincinnati didn't have a good red-zone set. On second down, Dalton appeared to miss open wide receiver
A knee injury drove Pressley from the game late in the first quarter and it didn't look good as he limped off with the aid of trainers.
The offense didn't play as well as the defense in the first half. Dalton was erratic on back-to-back series to force the first two punts.
The Bengals just couldn't sustain it up front. BJGE had 55 yards on 11 carries in the half and they couldn't keep Dalton clean enough to get the ball to Green. Green had just 41 yards on four catches on six targets and he was the team's leading receiver.
PREGAME NOTES: If smiles and a few quick shoves of defensive line coach Jay Hayes in pregame warmups mean anything, Bengals right end Michael Johnson figures to be active for Thursday night's game against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. And he was, extending his streak to 62 straight games, which encompasses his four-year career.
Johnson (great toe) played the second half of last Sunday's 20-19 loss to Dallas after he got injured sharing a sack with left end Carlos Dunlap late in the first half, but didn't practice Monday and Tuesday.
Also inactive were rookie cornerback Dre Kirpatrick (concussion) and running back
» It may have been harder than any hit he delivered during his Pro Football Hall of Fame career. Moments before going on the pregame set of NFL Network, Deion Sanders hugged Bengals cornerback Adam Jones running to him down the sideline and they fell to the ground in a playful wrestling match. Sanders is one of those that took Jones under his wing when no one signed Jones in 2009 and he sat out his second season in three years.
Sanders's relationship with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, his secondary coach in Dallas, is a major reason Jones signed with the Bengals in May 2010.
» Bengals punter
» The Bengals game captains were quarterback Andy Dalton and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis for the offense, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga and left end
» As expected for the Eagles, running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Michael Vick were inactive, along with tight end Brent Celek.