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News » Birds and Bengals play to ugly tie

Birds and Bengals play to ugly tie

Birds and Bengals play to ugly tie
CINCINNATI - As Shayne Graham's 47-yard field-goal attempt slipped outside the right upright with seven seconds left in overtime yesterday, Eagles safety Quintin Mikell celebrated by throwing his arms in the air.

He was ready to play the second overtime.

"To be honest, I didn't know there wasn't going to be another overtime," Mikell said. "I didn't know it was going to be a tie. I was kind of happy. I thought we were going to get another overtime. After I realized it was a tie, I was pretty ticked off. I felt we should have come in and won this game. That's a team we should have beat. We didn't come out ready to play, all across the board, so it's a loss to me."

Mikell was not the only Eagles player who didn't understand that once Donovan McNabb's 60-yard desperation pass fell incomplete and time expired in the overtime, the team was doomed to the dubious distinction of having played to a 13-13 tie with the wretched Cincinnati Bengals at blustery Paul Brown Stadium.

"I've never been in a tie before, but I know it's not a win," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "I don't know how this works in the standings. I know it's not good enough. We need wins and this is not a win."

A week after sounding confident about the direction his Football team was headed following a five-point home loss to the New York Giants, Reid was far more subdued when asked whether he still thinks he has the makings of a good team.

"I feel like I'm sure, but I'm not proving it to you, I know," Reid said. "But I do feel like I'm sure. We just have to do it. I could stand up here and answer your questions and talk about it, but that's not doing anybody any good."

The way the Eagles played on offense yesterday was not even close to good enough.

"If it's not one thing, it's another," Eagles offensive tackle Jon Runyan said. "That's the thing: It's not consistent problems. It's something we're still searching for."

The list of offensive problems already was long, and it grew on this day.

"We have to be able to pitch and catch a little better," Reid said.

McNabb, who like Mikell was not aware that a game could end in a tie, threw three interceptions, and all three came with the Eagles in field-goal range. He also lost a fumble that the Bengals recovered at the Eagles' 1-yard line in the first quarter.

The inept home team turned that opportunity into a four-play drive that resulted in a loss of a yard and a field goal. Yes, the Bengals tried their best to lose this game and just couldn't do it. They played exactly the way you'd expect a 1-8 Football team to play.

The Eagles (5-4-1) played exactly like the Bengals.

It was the first tie in an Eagles game since a 10-10 deadlock with the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 16, 1997.

For the third straight week, McNabb and the offense did not get the memo telling them it's OK to have positive plays on offense in the first quarter, prompting an interesting answer from Runyan about whether the Eagles are playing with the proper amount of urgency.

"Well, apparently not," he said. "Much like last week, we started slowly, and you can't have that. It's really getting frustrating. You've got to make a play. You don't even have to score. You can just play field position, but we're giving the ball right back to them."

At the end of the opening quarter, the Eagles had minus-3 yards of offense. The Eagles' offense finished the game almost as poorly, managing just two first downs in overtime. The Eagles followed up the second first down with penalties on two straight plays, leaving them in a first-and-25 situation.

Critical drops by receivers, batted-down balls by defensive linemen, and the continuing struggle to convert in short-yardage situations also weighed down the Eagles' offense. The Eagles had three third-and-1 plays against the Bengals and converted none of them.

Instead of trying to run the Football, Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg attempted to pass on the third-and-1 plays. Nothing worked.

McNabb pinned much of the blame on himself for the tie that felt like a loss, but he also indicated he still believed the Eagles could salvage the season.

"It's important on our side of the ball to be consistent and eliminate turnovers and put ourselves in position to score," the quarterback said. "Today I just didn't do it. I was being careless with the ball, just trying to be aggressive, and it obviously led to turnovers.

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish. In this game, you're going to go through some dry times, and unfortunately, that's what we did this game."

In the second quarter, Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson came up with the first of McNabb's three interceptions at the 16-yard line and returned it 35 yards to the Eagles' 49. That play set up Cincinnati's only TD, a 26-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who got behind cornerback Joselio Hanson.

That was the only touchdown allowed by the Eagles' defense, and the players on that side of the ball had reason to feel good about their performance. The defense sacked Fitzpatrick eight times - two each by Trent Cole and Darren Howard - and allowed 282 total yards (56 rushing) in five quarters.

"We didn't do enough because the bottom line is it ended in a tie," Mikell said. "I [left] the middle [open] on that touchdown they had, and I should have been there for [Hanson] and I wasn't there. If they don't get that touchdown, we win the game."

True, but the list of problems for the Eagles right now is a lot longer on the offensive side of the Football than it is on defense.

The perfect example came in the fourth quarter. By that point, the Eagles had closed a 10-point deficit to three with a 4-yard touchdown pass from McNabb to L.J. Smith in the third quarter.

On the Eagles' second possession of the final quarter, McNabb led them from their own 23 to the Cincinnati 9. In the midst of the 13-play drive, they converted a fourth-and-1 play with a quarterback sneak by McNabb.

But when faced with a second fourth-and-1 situation a few minutes later, Reid sent David Akers out to kick the game-tying field goal.

Akers made the 27-yard kick, and no one scored again.

"I've never been a part of a tie," McNabb said. "I never even knew that was in the rule book. It's part of the rules, and we have to go with it. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But, unfortunately, with the rules, we settled with a tie."

Third Rate

The Eagles were just 3 for 18 in third-down conversions yesterday in their 13-13 tie with the Bengals.

Third-and-1 Three times, the Eagles eschewed the running game and passed on third-and-1, failing each time.

Fourth-and-1 Four times, the Eagles were in the situation, going for it once, kicking a field goal once and punting twice, once in the fourth quarter and once in overtime.

The first time, they eschewed the pass as Donovan McNabb made the first down on a quarterback sneak with just inches to go in the fourth quarter at the Bengals' 20-yard line with 7:38 left.

Three plays later, on fourth and 1 from the 9. David Akers converted to make it 13-13 with 5:22 left.

In the fourth quarter, The Eagles had a fourth-and-1 play from their own 49 with 1:56 left, but Reid opted to punt. Sav Rocca shanked it and gave the Bengals one last shot.

The Eagles had one more fourth-and-1 play, from their own 22 with 1:30 left in overtime but Reid opted to have Rocca punt instead.

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 17, 2008

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