Eagles’ latest loss filled with blunders

In another miserable performance, the Philadelphia Eagles put

together a year’s worth of blunders fit for a football follies

video.

A 34-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night

featured four fumbles, one interception and one punt blocked by a

teammate. That brought the Eagles’ turnovers total to an NFL-high

34 in 14 games. They’ve only forced 12.

”Turnovers destroy you in this league,” coach Andy Reid said

Friday, stating the obvious. ”If we didn’t know it before, we know

it now.”

Lucky for the Eagles (4-10) and their frustrated fans, only two

games remain in this nightmare season.

”I was thoroughly embarrassed,” wide receiver Jason Avant said

after another loss in front of a national television audience. ”I

don’t care if there were no cameramen there or if we were playing

over at the University of Penn. That type of thing that happened

was embarrassing wherever you are, even if you’re in the sandlot.

So, never mind that it was on a national stage, it was just not

good football that happened. It just wasn’t good.”

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin started the giveaways by fumbling on

the second play from scrimmage. On Philadelphia’s next possession,

there were a series of comical mistakes that occurred when the

punting unit took the field.

First, rookie linebacker Ryan Rau, who only plays special teams,

didn’t realize the Eagles were punting so he stood on the sideline.

Tight end Clay Harbor noticed only 10 men out there and ran out at

the last second, but one rusher broke free on the outside. Wide

receiver Marvin McNutt tried to block him only to get pushed into

punter Mat McBriar’s kick.

Those two gaffes led to 10 points for the Bengals. But the

Eagles rallied to take a 13-10 lead into the third quarter.

Then, they unraveled.

The Eagles allowed 24 points in a span of 3:23. Three straight

possessions went interception-fumble-fumble. That was followed up

by another fumble when defensive lineman Cedric Thornton tried to

catch a short kickoff.

”Turnovers killed us,” Maclin said. ”You can’t keep putting

the defense inside of the 30-yard line. Eventually, an NFL team is

going to score on you. This was on the offense and special

teams.”

The emergence of rookie quarterback Nick Foles has been one of

the few bright spots in a dismal season, but he took a step

backward against the Bengals. Foles threw for 381 yards, including

a game-winning TD pass on the final play to snap Philadelphia’s

eight-game losing streak. The Buccaneers, by the way, have the

league’s worst-ranked pass defense.

Foles was just 16 of 33 for 182 yards with one TD pass and a

pick against the Bengals. He underthrew Maclin on a deep pass that

still went for a long gain in the second quarter. He underthrew him

again on what should’ve been a long TD pass and got intercepted in

the third quarter. That started the parade of turnovers.

”I just made a horrible throw,” Foles said. ”The ball came

out bad and it had a little bit of wobble to it. You have to really

cut it and I didn’t do that. I just have to spin it and it started

fluttering toward the end. So it’s a bad throw, it’s one that I

can’t have.”

Reid defended Foles’ arm strength, blaming his footwork and

mechanics for the underthrows.

”Nick has one of the stronger arms in the league, but you have

to make sure your feet are right and your drop is right,” Reid

said. ”You have to learn those things. That’s one of the tougher

things for young quarterbacks to do. Instead of taking what would

normally be a five-step drop, he took what would be a seven-step

drop. When you’re in the gun, it would be a five as opposed to a

three. He held too long on the safety and tried to look the safety

off. These are rookie mistakes, and he’ll learn from that. He’s

very diligent about those things, and he’ll get it right. It wasn’t

a lack of arm strength that would cause that to take place.”

Foles will start next Sunday’s game against Washington even

though Michael Vick has been cleared to return after a concussion

forced him to miss the last five games. Reid already said weeks ago

that Foles will finish the season as the No. 1 quarterback. As for

Vick, Reid hasn’t decided whether he’ll be the backup or No. 3

behind Trent Edwards.

Notes: RB LeSean McCoy will see an independent neurologist next

week, probably on Tuesday. He’s missed the last four games with a

concussion, but could play vs. the Redskins. … TE Brent Celek has

passed all tests in his concussion recovery and should be ready to

go. … DB Brandon Hughes was hospitalized overnight because of a

lung contusion, but was released and should be fine.

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