The first thing you notice about the Philadelphia Eagles is the sheer number of white guys with long, ’80s glam-rock style hair. The second thing is that their new defensive coordinator appears to be eleven years old. Which probably doesn’t say much about their football team, to be honest.
It turns out, the Bengals are likely the greatest first-quarter team in the history of the universe, a fact undermined by the endless array of statistics the NFL Network had to back this up. If there’s one thing we know about the Bengals, it’s that as soon as someone has said “Andy Dalton hasn’t thrown a single red zone interception in his career,” it’s time to change the channel.
There’s something rather joyful about the freedom to write the word “Boom” at will, and so when Bengals back up RB Dan “Boom” Herron blocked his third punt in four days, it certainly lightened my day. Especially as Carlos Dunlap had already ripped the ball from Eagles wideot Jeremy Maclin, and the Law Firm—along with stand-in kicker Josh Brown—combined to give the Bengals a comfortable 10-0 lead after the first quarter.
It looked like a rout was in the cards, but the Bengals never do things easily, providing fans with the most miserable second quarter of the season. Andy Dalton fumbled twice, both identical, both inches from being Tuck Rule incomplete passes and both converted for FGs by a suddenly inspired Eagles.
That’s right, firing defensive coordinators didn’t work, suspending a guillotine over coach Andy Reid’s neck didn’t work, benching Mike Vick didn’t work. It took the Bengals to finally get the Eagles playing like the Super Bowl contenders most sports hacks predicted them to be. Not to mention that our offense spluttered and stopped in its tracks, our O-line was unusually appalling, presumably confused over exactly who is playing center, or why NFL Network’s Mike Mayock made so many references to Andre Smith’s weight (“the big boy” was over-used even for a sport that prides itself on the accidental homo-eroticism of its analysts).
Fortunately, the D stepped up in a major way; undrafted linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Emmanual Lamur were everywhere, Rey Maualuga started playing like the guy we thought we drafted, DE Carlos Dunlap was a fumble-creating machine, and CB Leon Hall finally got his first interception this season, a play that ultimately changed the game.
A below-par Andy Dalton did enough to capitalize on the four turnovers in five Eagles’ plays, one of which was run back for a score by the superbly-named Wallace Gilberry, and the Bengals found themselves comfortably ahead, 34-13, as the fourth quarter closed out. It wasn’t pretty on offense, but it got the job done, and next Sunday’s match up with the Steelers, with three extra days rest, is a playoff game.
Final Score: Bengals 34 Eagles 13
Man Of The Match: He set the tone with a forced fumble on the Eagles first drive. Carlos Dunlap.