Second Half Turnovers Doom Birds
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
All the positive vibes that came from the Eagles last second win over the Tampa Buccaneers five days ago vanished in a second half deluge of disastrous turnovers as the Cincinnati Bengals came away with a 34-13 victory Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
In a span of close to nine minutes that started late in the third quarter, the Eagles committed four turnovers in five plays that led to 24 unanswered points for the Bengals, who improved their record 8-6 on the season. This latest meltdown was emblematic of an otherwise awful season for the Birds.
“It hurts when you go out there and you give it all and turnovers happen,” said defensive end Brandon Graham, who had 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. “I know that the person that did it didn’t really want it to happen. It’s just the same story over and over. We gotta keep repeating ourselves and say it’s going to get better. I don’t know what to say after that. It’s just part of the game.”
On a night when the biggest concern among some Philadelphians was the outcome of the winter finale of the ABC- TV series, “Scandal,” the Eagles dropped to 4-10 on the season while treating fans to yet another episode of “Bad Football Theatre.”
You can’t blame this one on the defense. They sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton six times and forced two turnovers while holding the Bengals to just 249 yards of total offense. The Birds had overcome an early 10-point deficit and held a 13-10 lead at the half.
But the defense’s best effort of the season went for naught because of the implosive misadventures of the Eagles offense, especially during that horrific stretch late in third quarter and early in the fourth quarter.
“In the game, things are looking well and we’re playing well and then one thing happens, it sno-balls on us and puts the defense in some really tough spots,” said tight end Clay Harbor. “They (Eagles defense) did a good job. We just got to be tougher mentally and fight through those spells like that.”
The first bad thing that happened, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles short-armed a pass intended for a wide-open Jeremy Maclin and was intercepted by cornerback Leon Hall at Eagles 16. He returned the ball Birds 40-yard line. Eight plays later, the Bengals scored on an 11-yard run by Dalton to give his team a 17-13 lead.
“I under threw [WR] Jeremy [Maclin] and the guy came back and made a play. So it’s a bad throw, it’s one that I can’t have. But it happened and I just have to, next time it happens just really throw it out there,” Foles said.
Two plays into the Eagles next drive, Foles tried to hand the ball off to running back Bryce Brown who fumbled the ball after being hit by defensive tackle Pat Sims. The ball was picked up by Wallace Gilberry, who ran it in for a 25-yard touchdown return to increase the lead to 24-13.
The comedy of errors for the Birds continued one play after the ensuing kickoff when Harbor coughed up the football after catching a pass from Foles at the Eagles 25. The ball was recovered by safety Chris Crocker who returned it the Eagles 13. The Bengals ended up getting a field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, a short kick by Josh Brown wound up in the hands of rookie defensive lineman Cedrick Thornton, who fumbled the football at the Eagles 33.
After Taylor Mayes’ recovery, it took the Bengals just five plays to score on a five-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to wide receiver A.J. Green and that was your ball game.