Bengals facing a must-win game Thursday
DEC 11, 2012 12:19p ET
While the Cincinnati Bengals try to move into playoff position, the Philadelphia Eagles will simply be looking to build on their first victory in more than two months.
The Bengals will attempt to bounce back from what they hope does not prove to be a costly defeat when they visit the Eagles on Thursday night.
Cincinnati (7-6) was in line for a fifth straight win before allowing 10 points in the closing minutes of a 20-19 home loss to Dallas on Sunday. Dan Bailey's 40-yard field goal as time expired kept the Bengals from taking over the final AFC wild-card spot after Pittsburgh lost to San Diego.
Luckily for Cincinnati, it can move on very quickly this week.
"I'm not the biggest fan of Thursday games, but I think it does (help)," cornerback Leon Hall said. "You don't have Monday, Tuesday to sit around and think about it, the would-of, could-of, should-of type of things."
The Bengals and Steelers are tied, but Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker by virtue of its 24-17 win at Cincinnati on Oct. 21. The two teams, who trail AFC North leader Baltimore by two games, meet in Pittsburgh next weekend.
"We have the opportunity to still control our own end, from now until the end," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "We still have an opportunity to win the division. We still have an opportunity to qualify for the playoffs in a couple of ways. That's all we can ask for.
"We let a huge opportunity get away. We had a lead, and we didn't protect the lead very well on offense nor defense. That's what's disappointing."
Cincinnati had not allowed more than 13 points in its previous four games and held its fourth straight opponent to fewer than 300 yards, but it could not make stops late. Tony Romo engineered an eight-play drive that concluded with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant with 6:35 left. The Cowboys' winning field goal capped a 13-play, 50-yard drive.
Cincinnati's Andy Dalton threw for 206 yards with a TD and an interception, getting sacked five times. Dalton has been picked off three times in the last two games after not throwing an INT in the previous three.
A.J. Green was held to three receptions for 44 yards and failed to score for a third consecutive game after finding the end zone in nine straight. He had two key drops, one of which could have gone for a touchdown in the third quarter.
"We've got to store this in, let it eat at us and make people pay for it," offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said.
Doing so might be a little tougher than expected against Philadelphia (4-9), which showed some life in rallying from an 11-point deficit to win 23-21 over Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Eagles snapped an eight-game skid with their first victory since Sept. 30.
Philadelphia has come from behind in all four wins, which have been decided by a combined six points.
"It's a great feeling for the team," quarterback Nick Foles said. "I think the big thing is, it's a great thing for the team sticking together. We can build off of this."
Foles went 32 of 51 for 381 yards to set team single-game rookie passing records for completions and yards. He ran for a TD and his two scoring passes came in the final four minutes.
After converting a fourth-and-5, Foles tossed a 1-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin for the winner as time expired.
Though Michael Vick passed his concussion test, embattled coach Andy Reid said Foles will start the final three games. The third-round pick has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,174 yards, with four TDs and three picks in five games. He has an 80.3 passer rating to Vick's 79.2.
"He has the potential to be a special quarterback in this league," said Maclin, who caught a season-high nine passes for 104 yards. "And he's growing up right in front of our eyes."
Foles won't have veteran tight end Brent Celek (concussion) to target Thursday, and it's uncertain whether LeSean McCoy will return from a three-game absence after passing his concussion test.
Rookie Bryce Brown rushed 43 times for 347 yards and four TDs in the previous two games in place of McCoy, but was held to six yards on 12 carries Sunday.
The Eagles and Bengals tied 13-all at Cincinnati in 2008. The Bengals won 38-10 at Philadelphia in 2005.