Is it possible to play poorly through almost an entire game on the road in the NFL, be losing at halftime and still emerge with a comfortable 34-13 victory?
Of course it is, when your opponent is the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.
That’s who the Bengals were thankfully up against on Thursday night and Cincinnati came away with a crucial win that puts them at 8-6 on the season and keeps them in the thick of the playoff hunt.
In fact, if the Steelers lose at the Cowboys this Sunday, the Bengals can clinch a playoff birth with a win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh next week.
But back to this wacky win over the Eagles tonight in a game unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And I’m a football junkie.
Here’s an interesting stat for you: Entering tonight’s game, Bengals’ head coach Marvin Lewis was 16-57 when trailing at halftime. Sixteen and 57! Well, you can go ahead and move that up to 17-57, baby.
Andy Dalton was erratic with his throws (13-for-27 for 127 yards) Kevin Huber had by far his worst night of the season (net average of 34 yards on five punts), the Bengals racked up stupid penalties (11 for 94 yards!) and lost two turnovers.
However, if Cincy had a full house, Philly did them far better with a royal flush. And a flush was needed after the 4-10 Eagles took a complete dump at Lincoln Financial Field.
Other than the second quarter, the Eagles’ entire night was utter debauchery. They finished with a whopping five turnovers, plenty of penalties of their own (nine for 76 yards) and had a punt blocked when Bengals’ running back Boom Herron pushed his blocker back into the punter on what was a great play from the rookie from Ohio State. Herron also had a deflected punt last week in the heartbreaking 20-19 loss against the Cowboys in his NFL debut. Not a bad start for the sixth-rounder.
As for the game against the Eagles, it completely changed on Leon Hall’s interception in the third quarter with Philadelphia leading 13-10. Hall was in great position deep in coverage and picked off Nick Foles’ badly underthrown ball. Then Hall made a great 44-yard return, which set up the Bengals’ go-ahead touchdown. It was all Cincinnati from there.
Also, I’m happy to say I was wrong about BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He did not look good early in the season to say the least, but has been very impressive since October. After his 25-carry for 106 yards and one touchdown performance against the Eagles, Green-Ellis has amassed 1,080 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and six TDs on the season. His 3-year, $12-million signing turned out to be a pretty shrewd move by the Bengals during the offseason. Wait, did I just compliment the front office? Yep, sure did. The Mayans might be on to something; brace yourself.
Speaking of impressive stats, they don’t get much better than the numbers of A.J. “I Can’t Believe This Guy Actually Plays For Our Team” Green. How good are his numbers? Try 85 catches for 1,208 yards (14.2 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns on for size. If you have him on your fantasy team (I don’t – not in either of my money leagues) you’re a happy person this year. I’m just happy he’s on the Bengals. It’s easy to make the argument he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL, which is an extremely bold statement when you consider how good Calvin Johnson is. Not to mention Brandon Marshall and a handful of others. But Green has everything you would want in a wideout and more.
Anyway, despite Dallas’ bullshit, I mean, gutsy win over the Bengals last week, now Who Dey-ers are full-fledged Cowboys fans this weekend. Again, the equations are getting pretty simple at this point, even for a simpleton like myself. A Cowboys win this Sunday over the Steelers, and a Bengals win over the Steelers next Sunday means the Bengals will be playoff bound for the second consecutive season and third time in four years.
Who knows if it will happen, but just the fact that the Bengals have put themselves in this position has made this a fun season. I predicted they would be 8-8 this year. Let’s sure as hell hope I’m wrong because that would obviously mean losing the final two games (they host Baltimore the final game of the regular season on Dec. 30).
I’ve never been crazy about Lewis as a head coach, but it’s a bottom line business and somehow he’s getting the job done. In a related story, he needs to take Andy Reid out for dinner to thank him for that early Christmas present tonight. What a collapse by the Eagles. But after the Bengals gave away a game they seemingly had wrapped up against the Cowboys last week, they’ll take the win tonight and not apologize one bit for it.