The Cincinnati Bengals had won their fourth consecutive game two weeks, establishing a prominent role in the playoff picture as the league’s second wild card team behind the Indianapolis Colts. Pittsburgh was dealing with Ben Roethlisberger's injury and even Baltimore’s recent performances promoted suggestive hypothesizes that Cincinnati had a shot for the AFC North title; which remains alive as of this posting.
Yet in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys, the Bengals surrendered a nine-point fourth quarter lead, entering Week 15 against a bad 4-9 Philadelphia Eagles squad. Unfortunately the Cincinnati Bengals, having lost nine straight prime time games, were equally as ineffectual and shockingly (debatable word) embarrassing for fans to endure and the team to produce nationally in the first half.
By the midway point in the third quarter, Dalton had been sacked six times, twice losing the football, turnovers that led to six points while the offense committed nine penalties with an offensive line that set pass protection back 30 years.
It was so horrifying seeing a Bengals squad with such an embarrassing performance, knowing the implications it would cause.
Then the game took an unexpected yet welcome change.
With 5:58 remaining in the third quarter, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles severely underthrows the football down the left sidelines, measured up and intercepted by Leon Hall, recording his first interception of the season. Hall returned it 44 yards to the Eagles 40-yard line. The eight-play possession, including two penalties, ended with an Andy Dalton sprint into the endzone, giving the Bengals 17-13 lead.
On Philadelphia’s ensuing possession, Foles picks up eight yards, setting up a second and two from the Eagles 31-yard line when Pat Sims stripped the football away from Bryce Brown, recovered by Wallace Gilberry who returned it 25 yards for the touchdown.
Now what was a saturated feeling of defeat, turned into a relief and an 11-point lead.
On Philadelphia’s very next play, safety Chris Crocker recovered a Clay Harbor fumble, returning it 16 yards to the Eagles 13-yard line with 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Josh Brown converted a 32-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and the route was on.
Brown’s ensuing kickoff led to another fumble by the Eagles, recovered by Taylor Mays, eventually converted into a five-yard touchdown to A.J. Green; his first in four games.
From the 5:44 mark in the third quarter to 11:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Eagles turned it over three times and the Bengals turned a three-point deficit into a 21-point lead, all starting with Leon hall’s interception.
In the end the Bengals wiped out the remainder of the fourth quarter, beating the Philadelphia Eagles 34-13, a Jermaine Gresham missed touchdown away from posting a season-high 41 points.
The Bengals will have the weekend off, scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on ten days rest (with a good amount of game-planning) in what figures to be the game that determines the final Wild Card spot.