The Bengals failed to lose for the third straight week Sunday, forging a 13-13 tie with the visiting Philadelphia Eagles. The non-loss was sealed when Cincinnati kicker Shayne Graham missed a 47-yard field goal at the end of overtime.
The Bengals had a bye last weekend, and defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars two weekends ago. Cincinnati has not lost since October 26. The Bengals can extend their non-losing streak to four games with a win or tie against Pittsburgh Thursday night.
Neither the Eagles nor the Bengals could generate a consistent offense at Paul Brown Stadium today, primarily due to each team’s inability to run the ball. Bengals RB Cedric Benson had just 42 yards on 23 carries, while Philadelphia’s Brian Westbrook managed only 60 yards on 14 lugs.
Cincinnati QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had a solid outing, completing 29 of 44 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown, with no interceptions. But Fitzpatrick was under constant pressure and was sacked eight (!) times. Some of those sacks were his own fault. On several plays, he seemed hesitant in deciding whether to throw the ball or to pull it down and run, which gave defenders time to bring him down. (Coming into the game, Fitzpatrick had 24 rushes for 173 yards; today, he had 5 runs for only 9 yards.) But injuries on the offensive line were the main problem. LT Levi Jones left early and was replaced first by backup G/T Scott Kooistra and then LG Andrew Whitworth. Jones would later return after Whitworth left with what appeared to be an ankle injury. After limping off the field under his own power, he was driven into the locker room on a cart.
Special teams contributed heavily to the non-loss. Three punt returns were wiped out by penalty, Kyle Larson had a 25-yard punt, and Graham shanked a kickoff out of bounds, giving the Eagles the ball at the 40 yard line, in addition to missing the game-winning field goal in overtime.
Fortunately for the Bengals, the Eagles had their own problems on special teams (such as a 17-yard punt) and offense, including a laughable series late in overtime that featured three penalties — a false start, offensive pass interference and a delay of game — in four plays. Eagles QB Donovan McNabb was awful, despite throwing for more than 300 yards. McNabb completed less than half his passes (28 of 58), had numerous throws batted down at the line of scrimmage, and tossed three picks to just a single TD. He also fumbled on a sack by DE Robert Geathers. The ball was picked up by DE Frostee Rucker, who returned it to the Eagles’ one-yard line, setting the Cincinnati offense up with a first and goal. Of course, the Cincinnati offense being what it is, it had to settle for a FG. The Geathers sack was one of the relatively rare instances of pressure on McNabb Sunday. He generally had plenty of time to throw, but was simply off the mark too many times. That said, the Bengals’ secondary played much better than it had in a while, with the newly arrived safety Chris Crocker, signed when the team shelved S Dexter Jackson, notable with a sack and a pick.
The Bengals lost both safety Chinedum Ndukwe and Whitworth during the game, and play was stopped for several minutes after WR Antonio Chatman took a wicked hit. Chatman left strapped down to a board on a gurney but reportedly has full use of his limbs. Whitworth’s injury appears to be a high ankle sprain which seems likely to sideline him for some period of time.