PHILADELPHIA — One Pennsylvania team down, one to go for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Andy Dalton threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, an opportunistic defense forced five turnovers, and Cincinnati beat the Eagles, 34-13, Thursday night.
The Bengals (8-6) took a half-game lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) for the last playoff spot in the AFC. But their game at Pittsburgh next week is far more important in the standings than this one.
The Bengals would clinch their second straight playoff berth with a win over the Steelers if Pittsburgh loses to Dallas Sunday. A loss to the Steelers, though, likely would ruin Cincinnati’s chances.
The Eagles’ season was lost a long time ago. They fell to 4-10, losing double-digit games for the first time since 2005. , the year after losing the Super Bowl to the Patriots.
There were plenty of empty seats at the Linc, where fans are hoping this is Andy Reid’s final season as coach. Reid led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles, and five NFC Championship games in his first 13 years. But the Eagles will miss the playoffs for the second straight year and owner Jeffrey Lurie already said 8-8 would be ‘‘unacceptable.’’
An interception by Leon Hall set up Dalton’s go-ahead 11-yard TD run in the third quarter. Then Wallace Gilberry picked up Bryce Brown’s fumble and ran it back 25 yards for another score. and an 11-point lead.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 106 yards, including a 1-yard TD run in the first quarter for Cincinnati. Dalton tossed a 5-yard TD pass to A.J. Green in the fourth to cap a 24-point outburst in a span of 3:23.
The Eagles committed three turnovers on three straight possessions, then fumbled a kickoff when defensive lineman Cedric Thornton let the ball fall through his hands on a short kick.
The Eagles have committed an NFL-high 34 turnovers and have forced just 12 all season.
Rookie Nick Foles made his fifth straight start for Michael Vick, who just returned to practice this week after sustaining a concussion on Nov. 11. Foles threw for 182 yards, one TD, and one interception.
Down, 13-10, the Bengals started their rally with a turnover.
Hall intercepted Foles’s deep pass and returned it 44 yards to the Eagles’ 40. Foles underthrew Jeremy Maclin, who was a few steps behind Hall.
Green made an acrobatic catch for an 11-yard gain on third-and-9 a few plays before Dalton ran for the score to put the Bengals up, 17-13.