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Bengals keep pace in AFC playoff hunt, bury mistake-prone Eagles
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It took a second-half resurgence, but the Cincinnati Bengals kept their hopes of a second straight playoff appearance alive on Thursday night.
The Bengals scored 24 unanswered points in the second half off four Philadelphia turnovers, as Cincinnati's defense stifled the mistake-prone Philadelphia Eagles in a 34-13 triumph at Lincoln Financial Field.
"Sometimes it's the offense, sometimes it's the defense, but we were able to get things going with the turnovers today and they were a big part of the game," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis remarked.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, while Andy Dalton threw for 127 yards and a score on 13-of-27 passing and also rushed for a touchdown in the victory.
Defensive tackle Wallace Gilberry added a 25-yard fumble return touchdown for the Bengals (8-6), who have won five of six and own a 1/2 game lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.
Cincinnati travels to Pittsburgh next Sunday to take on the Steelers.
Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles finished 16-of-33 passing for 182 yards with a touchdown pass, an interception and a fumble, while fellow rookie Bryce Brown rushed for just 34 yards on 16 carries in the setback.
Jeremy Maclin hauled in four passes for a game-high 73 yards for the Eagles (4-10), who snapped an eight-game losing streak last weekend with a last- second triumph in Tampa Bay.
"Five turnovers, 31 points, that really says it all," Eagles coach Andy Reid admitted. "I thought the effort, the guys played hard, they just can't have those turnovers and that's a problem."
Philadelphia led 13-10 at halftime, but over an eight-minute span between the third and fourth quarters, the Eagles turned the ball over four times leading to 24 Cincinnati points to change the complexion of the contest.
Philadelphia forced a pair of three-and-outs from the Bengals to start the second half, but Foles was intercepted by Leon Hall on the first play of the Eagles' second touch of the third quarter.
Hall returned the pick 44 yards to the Philadelphia 40 before Dalton kept the ensuing march moving with an 11-yard toss to A.J. Green on 3rd-and-9.
Three plays later, Dalton scrambled up the middle and danced past linebacker Mychal Kendricks en route to an 11-yard touchdown run to give the Bengals a 17-13 advantage with 1:10 left in the third.
On the second play of the Eagles' ensuing touch, Brown carried the ball up the middle, but never fully gained control of the handoff. Pat Sims quickly met Brown in the backfield before Gilberry scooped up the loose ball and scampered 25 yards into the end zone to make it 24-13 with 21 seconds left in the third.
It went from bad to worse, as tight end Clay Harbour fumbled the ball away following a 16-yard catch on the Eagles' next play from scrimmage.
Chris Crocker jumped on the fumble at the Philadelphia 25, but the Bengals had to settle for a 32-yard field goal from Josh Brown to extend the margin to 27-13 less than a minute into the fourth.
On the ensuing kickoff, Eagles defensive tackle Cedric Thornton couldn't field a high kick from Brown and Cincinnati safety Taylor Mays pounced on the loose ball at the Philadelphia 34.
Cincinnati lined up for a field goal after being forced into a 4th-and-3, but the Eagles were whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for disconcerting signals before the snap.
After Green-Ellis surged for eight yards on the next play, Dalton floated a fade into the right corner of the end zone for Green, who got both feet in for a 5-yard TD to make it 34-13 with 12:47 left in the fourth.
The Eagles couldn't muster a comeback, going three-and-out on their final two possessions to take their ninth loss in their last 10 games.
Turnovers plagued the Eagles early on as well, as Maclin fumbled on Philadelphia's second play from scrimmage. Maclin caught a screen pass, but Carlos Dunlap chased him down from behind and knocked the ball loose to give Cincinnati possession at the Philadelphia 44.
Green-Ellis broke free for 29 yards on the Bengals' first play before capping the short march five plays later with a 1-yard touchdown surge to give Cincinnati a 7-0 edge less than four minutes into the contest.
The Bengals quickly forced the Eagles into a 4th-and-3, and on the ensuing punt, Dan Herron bulled through Marvin McNutt off the edge, pushing McNutt into the kicking lane of punter Matt McBriar.
McBriar's punt ricocheted off McNutt and Herron scooped it up before returning it to the Philadelphia 11, setting up Brown's 24-yard field goal to make it 10-0 just over seven minutes into the game.
Philadelphia finally cracked the scoreboard early in the second with a quick 4-play, 64-yard scoring drive. On the second play of touch, Foles faked a bubble screen and found Maclin for 46 yards down the right sideline to the Cincinnati 11.
Two plays later, Foles fired an 11-yard touchdown strike to Riley Cooper across the front of the end zone to bring the Eagles within 10-7 with 11:40 left until halftime.
Philadelphia forced a quick turnover on Cincinnati's ensuing touch, as defensive end Brandon Graham stripped Dalton and Trent Cole recovered the loose ball at the Cincinnati 29.
Back-to-back penalties against the Bengals gave the Eagles a 1st-and-goal from the Cincinnati 4, but three straight incompletions from Foles forced the Eagles to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Alex Henery to knot the game at 10-10 with 7:37 left in the half.
The Eagles forced another Dalton fumble on the first play after the two-minute warning, but again failed to punch it in from inside the 5-yard line, as Henery's 20-yard field goal sent the home team into the locker room clinging to a three-point edge.
The Bengals lead their all-time series with the Eagles 8-3-1 ... The Bengals have gone 11 straight games without allowing a first quarter touchdown ... Philadelphia finished with 42 rushing yards ... The Eagles sacked Dalton a season-high six times ... Cincinnati was whistled for a season-high 11 penalties.
12/14 01:09:12 ET
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