Bengals boost playoff bid by downing Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AFP) –
BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 106 yards and a touchdown while Andy Dalton ran for one touchdown and threw for another to lead Cincinnati over Philadelphia 34-13 in an NFL game Thursday.
The victory boosted the Bengals to 8-6 and ahead of Pittsburgh for the final American Conference playoff spot, although the Steelers (7-6) could move back in front of Cincinnati with a triumph at Dallas (7-6) on Sunday night.
Cincinnati will visit Pittsburgh on December 23 and host Baltimore one week later and would reach the playoffs with triumphs in both contests.
The Bengals produced 27 points off five Philadelphia turnovers in dropping the Eagles to 4-10, the worst record in the National Conference.
Ellis scored on a one-yard run 3:50 into the game and Josh Brown added a 24-yard field goal to give Cincinnati a 10-0 lead, but the Eagles scored all their points in the second quarter on Nick Foles’ 11-yard touchdown toss to Riley Cooper and two Alex Henery field goals for a 13-10 half-time lead.
“We jumped out to a big lead and jumped ahead of ourselves and came out flat in the second quarter, but we got it back in the second half,” Green-Ellis said.
Dalton scored on an 11-yard run in the third quarter and Wallace Gilberry returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown just 49 seconds later to give the Bengals a 24-13 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Brown added a 32-yard field goal and Dalton flipped a five-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green for the final points.
“We just keep practicing to be perfect,” Green-Ellis said. “Early in the season things were hard for us. We just kept working and things have gotten easier and hopefully it keeps going for us.”
New England, Houston and Denver have already clinched American Conference playoff spots and Baltimore and Indianapolis, both 9-4, hope to join them with 10 or more victories by winning on Sunday.
The Colts will visit Houston to face the Texans, who at 11-2 are level with the Atlanta Falcons for the best record in the NFL, while Baltimore will play host to Denver, which has already clinched the AFC West division crown.
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are fighting for the last American Conference spot along with the New York Jets (6-7), who visit Tennessee on Monday night.
In the National Conference, only the Falcons have secured a playoff berth by clinching the NFC South division.
NFC West leader San Francisco (9-3 with one drawn) will visit AFC East leader New England (10-3) for a key showdown of opposite-coast rivals, one that could be a potential preview of February’s Super Bowl championship final.
The Chicago Bears (8-5) will try to claim a share of the NFC North division lead when they play host to arch-rival Green Bay Packers (9-4).
The NFC East-leading New York Giants (8-5) will be hard-pressed to keep their one-game edge in the division when they visit Atlanta, while Dallas will entertain the Steelers, and Washington, also at 7-6, will visit Cleveland (5-8).
Other games Sunday find Jacksonville at Miami, Minnesota at St. Louis, Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Seattle at Buffalo, Carolina at San Diego, Detroit at Arizona and Kansas City at Oakland.