It wasn't exactly pretty—what Thursday Night Football game is?—but the Cincinnati Bengals escaped the City of Brotherly Love with a 34-13 win over the Philadelphia Eagles to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Marvin Lewis' squad improved to 8-6, which, for the time being, puts it a half-game ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers and 1.5 behind the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. The Bengals still control the second wild-card spot.
Philadelphia (4-10), meanwhile, continued its disappointing season by becoming the third team in the NFL to reach double-digit losses this season.
This one was ugly from the start.
It took the Eagles two offensive plays to turn the ball over, as Nick Foles completed a pass to Jeremy Maclin, who proceeded to cough it up.
After BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored to cap off the subsequent drive, the Eagles' Matt McBriar had his punt blocked after a three-and-out. By his own man. Seriously.
The Bengals responded with a field goal.
Philadelphia managed to climb back and actually take the 13-10 lead thanks to sloppy play by Cincinnati and two fumbles by Andy Dalton.
But the second half was all Bengals. Or, all...not Eagles.
Foles threw an ugly interception. Cincy responded with a touchdown. Bryce Brown fumbled. Wallace Gilberry returned it for a touchdown. Clay Harbor fumbled. The Bengals responded with a field goal. Cedric Thornton fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Cincy responded with another touchdown.
All of that happened in a span of about seven game minutes, and suddenly, the close game was 34-13.
In the end, there were seven turnovers (five by Philadelphia), 20 penalties and just 27 total first downs. Again, it wasn't perfect for the Bengals, who gave up six sacks and looked unsure of themselves through the first two-and-a-half quarters, but a win is a win.
I'm pretty sure that this first tweet isn't true, although considering the kind of season the Philadelphia Eagles have had, I can't be so positive (via ESPN's Pedro Gomez):
Eagles just gave two 2013 season tickets to a fan during a break here. A Philly writer added, "Second prize, FOUR 2013 season tickets."— Pedro Gomez (@pedrogomezESPN) December 14, 2012
Sorry, Eagles fans.
Grantland's Bill Barnwell sums up what is becoming an increasingly common trend during Thursday Night Football:
Terrible half of football from the Bengals. Sloppy on defense, seemingly absent on offense. Haven't shown up for a must-win game.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) December 14, 2012
Such a bad first half, in fact, that the Eagles were able to end this amazing streak (via the Delaware News Journal's Martin Frank):
Eagles recover a fumble! 1st turnover for Eagles since 11/5.— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) December 14, 2012
Late in the third quarter, we were treated to one of the best things in sports: A touchdown for a defensive lineman, courtesy of the Bengals' Wallace Gilberry. Ian Rapaport of NFL.com sums up the scene:
Fat person running! And dancing! #bigfella— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 14, 2012
As always, it was a glorious moment.
After the Eagles turned the ball over for the third time in a 71-second span in the second half, this was really the only appropriate reaction (via Jimmy from Bloggingthebeast.com):
Lol— Blogging the bEast (@Jimmy_Beast) December 14, 2012
Once again: Sorry, Eagles fans.
The Bengals head to Pittsburgh for a huge division matchup with the Steelers next Sunday, while the Eagles will try to spoil the Washington Redskins' playoff hopes at home.