Bengals survive another sloppy game

The Bengals stayed on the cusp of the playoffs by surviving

their sloppiest game of the season, one that left them with plenty

of concern heading into a weekend off.

They did a lot of things wrong during a 34-13 loss in

Philadelphia on Thursday night, but the Eagles were far worse,

bailing out the Bengals by turning the ball over five times.

The Eagles lost four fumbles and had an interception off a

severely underthrown pass, helping Cincinnati overcome a

second-half deficit.

The ugly victory gave Cincinnati (8-6) a chance to make the

playoffs by winning at Pittsburgh and at home against Baltimore in

the next two weeks. The Bengals are 0-6 against those AFC North

rivals during the last two seasons.

”After reviewing the tapes, it’s evident in a lot of areas we

have a lot of coaching to do,” coach Marvin Lewis said on Friday.

”We have a lot of improvement we can still make.”

Although they’re in the postseason chase, the Bengals aren’t

happy with how they’re playing at the most important time of the

season. They struggled to win at San Diego, pulling it out with a

fourth-quarter rally aided by the Chargers’ self-destruction. They

then lost at home to Dallas, blowing a fourth-quarter lead.

In Philadelphia, they hit a low point – 11 penalties for 94

yards, a punt fielded at the 1-yard line, two fumbles by

quarterback Andy Dalton, six sacks allowed. The Eagles’ turnovers

made the difference and left the Bengals relieved yet unhappy.

They’ve talked all season about getting hot as the playoffs

approach. Their performances are getting worse, especially on

offense. They know that if they want to consider themselves

playoff-worthy, they’ve got to play a lot better in the next two


”Anytime you win on the road, I don’t care how you do it, it’s

exciting,” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said on Monday, taking

a break from watching tape of a Baltimore-Pittsburgh game. ”We are

8-6 right now and we still have everything in reach that we want to

reach for. We just have to play better, and we know that.

”We know that the other team is not going to fumble and give us

that field position all the time. We are going to have to grind

some yards, protect the football. We gave two turnovers in their

end of the field and that can’t happen against teams with Ben

Roethlisberger and (Joe) Flacco and Peyton Manning like that.”

The offense was totally ineffective in the second quarter and

the early part of the third, before the Eagles started turning it

over. Cincinnati had the ball seven times and lost four yards

overall, done in by penalties and Dalton’s two fumbles.

In the first half, A.J. Green was the only receiver to catch a

pass, getting 41 yards on four receptions. Tight end Jermaine

Gresham had three catches for 28 yards, running back Brian Leonard

one catch for seven yards.

Dalton was under heavy pressure most of the game. He finished 13

of 27 for 127 yards and a below-average passer rating of 74.2.

”It was very un-Andy-like last night,” Gruden said. ”He

missed some throws that he should make, he didn’t throw some throws

that he should throw, could have run for yards and tried to throw

across his body and was almost intercepted. He made some plays that

just weren’t up to par.”

The second-year quarterback become frustrated as the offense

bogged down, slamming down a binder on the sideline at one


”Everything you do, you have to continue to do it with more

poise than you did it the last time,” Lewis said. ”That’s all we

ask any of our players all of the time: every opportunity, every

chance you get, do it better than you did it the last time.”

Notes: FB Chris Pressley had an MRI on his right knee Friday. He

got hurt in the first quarter on Thursday night. Gruden said if the

injury is significant, the Bengals will see what other fullbacks

are available. If there are no such options, they could move TE

Orson Charles to a fullback role. … Gruden said half of the six

sacks were the result of Dalton holding the ball too long.

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