|Other Week 11 Game Recaps|
|ARI at SEA||BAL at NYG||CHI at GB||CLE at BUF||DAL at WAS||DEN at ATL||DET at CAR||HOU at IND|
|MIN at TB||NO at KC||NYJ at NE||OAK at MIA||PHI at CIN||SD at PIT||STL at SF||TEN at JAX|
Week 11 Game Recap: Philadelphia Eagles 13, Cincinnati Bengals 13
What you need to know
QB Donovan McNabb once again got off to a very cold start, and while he eventually passed for a TD and over 300 yards, his completion rate was under 50% and he tossed three bad interceptions.
RB Brian Westbrook seemed poised for a good day early on, but the Eagles decided to focus on the passing game throughout the contest and thus Westbrook saw his opportunities to excel inexplicably limited.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, despite being under intense pressure all day, chipped in an efficient and effective performance that saw over 260 passing yards, a TD and no interceptions.
RB Cedric Benson had difficulty making big plays against a tough Eagles defense, but showed that he is the clear number one running back for the Bengals as he was used all day and in virtually all situations.
WR T. J. Houshmandzadeh was far and away the number one target in the receiving game and was responsible for well over half of all Cincinnati production through the air. Unlike fellow WR Chad Johnson, he was able to get open regularly and make plays with the plentiful opportunities Fitzpatrick provided him.
What you ought to know
|QB Donovan McNabb, Pass: 28 - 58 - 339 - 1 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0|
If one just looks at the final statistics, and if you play in a league that doesn't penalize your QBs all that much for interceptions, it would be easy to think McNabb had a good day. The problem is that the statistics lie. In a cold and windy Cincinnati, McNabb yet again got off to a frigid start going one of five in the first quarter for zero yards and added a lost fumble for good measure. While the yardage totals improved dramatically in the second quarter (largely due to a great 44 yard run by RB Correll Buckhalter after he took a short screen pass), these were offset by the first two of McNabb's three interceptions on the day. On the first INT, McNabb simply seemed to overlook Bengals LB Brandon Johnson who was playing a shallow zone and leaped up to grab a pass intended for TE L. J. Smith. On the second, McNabb threw a pass well behind WR Kevin Curtis, and while Curtis was able to get a hand on it, that only resulted in a tip that the Bengals' Jonathan Joseph was able to haul in. McNabb's second half was only slightly better, and were it not for consecutive plays where he a) hit WR Hank Baskett with a 15 yard pass that the receiver converted into a 57 yard gain and b) tossed an easy four yard TD to Smith, McNabb's stat line might have more accurately reflected his overall poor performance. McNabb's third interception came in the waning minutes of the third quarter when he under-threw Smith and the Bengals' Chris Crocker made the easy INT. All in all, McNabb ended up completing less than half of his personal record 58 pass attempts, and was most responsible for his team tying the lowly Bengals.
|RB Brian Westbrook, Rush: 14 - 60 - 0, Rec: 3 - 11 - 0 (8 targets)|
What could have been a big day for Westbrook against a mediocre Bengals defense instead turned into a thoroughly average one due to his team's over-reliance on the passing game. Westbrook enjoyed success on the ground when given the opportunity, including a late third quarter 22 yard scamper, but he was allowed only 14 total rushes in a full five quarters of action. In the passing game, Westbrook also played a much smaller role than usual, receiving only eight targets and converting only three receptions despite QB Donovan McNabb dropping back to pass 58 times. In short, Westbrook's average performance was, more than anything else, a product of questionable play calling by his coaching staff.
|WR Kevin Curtis, Rec: 7 - 64 - 0 (13 targets)|
Even though QB Donovan McNabb spread the ball around today, completing passes to ten different receivers, the sheer volume of McNabb's pass attempts still allowed Curtis to see 13 targets. Unfortunately, Curtis was unable to turn those targets into big plays. While he led the Eagles with seven receptions, none were for more than 14 yards and he seemed to play the role of possession receiver all day long, allowing fellow WRs DeSean Jackson and Hank Baskett to take over as the deep targets.
|WR DeSean Jackson, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0, Rec: 4 - 66 - 0 (8 targets)|
The dynamic Jackson was again given numerous and various opportunities to use his speed and elusiveness to make plays. In the rushing game he received two touches that he failed to do anything with (one actually appeared to be a play designed to allow him to throw the ball downfield.) In the passing game, however, he made much more of an impact as he converted on half of his targets and ended the day as the Eagles second highest gainer in receiving yards. The highlights of Jackson's day ware a pair of second quarter receptions. On the first he found a hole in the defense to gain 17 yards on third and 11. On the second, Jackson hauled in a 25 yard reception at the right sideline and stepped out of bounds to stop the clock. Jackson was targeted on a long pass early in the fourth quarter, and it would have been a TD had Bengals DB Leon Hall not made an impressive defensive play to break it up.
|WR Hank Baskett, Rec: 2 - 74 - 0 (4 targets)|
Despite QB Donovan McNabb launching a career high 58 pass attempts, Baskett was targeted on only four. Even so, he ended the day with more receiving yards than any other Eagles receiver -- mostly as a result of a single huge play. Early in the third quarter, Baskett took a fifteen yard pass from McNabb, spun away from his immediate defenders and raced down the left sideline for a 57 yard gain. Only the last Bengal DB with a shot at him prevented Baskett from going in for the score and he was knocked out of bounds at the four yard line.
|WR Reggie Brown, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (4 targets)|
Brown was the definition of a non-factor in this game as he was targeted only four times, caught only one pass, and on that single reception gained zero yards.
|TE L.J. Smith, Rec: 3 - 15 - 1 (8 targets)|
Smith received the start at TE for the Eagles, but only received slightly more attention in the passing game than his backup Brent Celek. What action Smith did see was concentrated in the second and third quarter, and was on primarily short routes. Fortunately, one of Smith's receptions was the Eagles' sole TD on the day -- a third quarter four yard toss that found Smith wide open on the goal line.
|TE Brent Celek, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (6 targets)|
Though he didn't start, Celek nearly managed to match fellow TE L. J. Smith in targets, and actually ended the game with more yards. Unfortunately, QB Donovan McNabb spent much more time looking for his WRs than his TEs, and, as such, Celek really never had much of an opportunity to shine.
|PK David Akers 2 - 2 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 7 points|
Akers was called upon to make two FGs in the cold and wind, and he connected on both -- a 42 yarder and a 27 yarder.
|PHI Rush Defense|
The Eagles' rush defense was stifling all day, and despite the Bengals' game-long commitment to attempting to gain yards on the ground, Philadelphia never allowed them to do so -- even stuffing a first and goal from the one yard line late in the first quarter. Whether the running play was up the middle or to the outside, a swarm of Eagles defenders met the RB before he could get very far downfield. The longest run given up all game was a 13 yarder, and by the end of the contest, the Eagles had allowed a stingy 1.9 yards per rush on 30 Bengals attempts.
|PHI Pass Defense|
The Eagles' pass rush was nearly unstoppable all day long. More often than not, Bengals QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was faced with the choice of scrambling out of the pocket or taking the sack. While Fitzpatrick did display decent mobility, the Eagles still managed to drop him eight times for a loss, including on a second and goal from the one yard line on the first play of the second quarter. Behind the defensive line, however the pass defense was not quite as stalwart. While the LBs and DBs didn't give up any huge plays, they did struggle to contain Bengals WR T. J. Houshmandzadeh and gave up a 26 yard score late in the first half.
|QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Pass: 29 - 44 - 261 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 9 - 0|
Despite facing cold and windy conditions all day long, as well as a vicious Eagle pass rush that sacked him eight times, Fitzpatrick actually managed to put together a solid performance. Despite the pressure he faced, Fitzpatrick showed decent mobility, avoided any interceptions and his sole TD came on a 26 yard bullet after a convincing pump-fake to a streaking WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh late in the second quarter. One odd thing about Fitzpatrick's performance was a tendency to lock on a particular WR target for stretches at a time. At various points throughout the game, each of Houshmandzadeh, Chad Johnson and Chris Henry were targeted on at least three consecutive passing plays.
|RB Cedric Benson, Rush: 23 - 42 - 0, Rec: 6 - 37 - 0 (6 targets)|
Any doubts about whether Benson is now the solid number one RB for the Bengals were dispelled in this game. This was not so much due to his statistics, which were average, at best, against a solid Eagles defense, but rather a result of the fact that he was used throughout the entire game despite his failure to make many big plays, and in all situations -- including passing downs where he saw a half dozen targets and caught every one. As a result of this extensive usage, and the fact that the game went a full five quarters, Benson actually managed a respectable 79 combined yards against a tough defense.
|RB Chris Perry, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 1 - -4 - 0 (2 targets)|
There was no doubt on the day that Perry was the second option at RB behind Cedric Benson, and even when Benson struggled against the Eagles defense, Perry still saw almost no action.
|WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Rec: 12 - 149 - 1 (16 targets)|
There was no doubt that the first (and sometimes only) place QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was interested in looking when he dropped back to pass was Houshmandzadeh's way -- and the WR took advantage of all that attention. Houshmandzadeh was consistently successful in gaining separation and nothing the Eagles tried seemed able to stop him. By the end of the day, Houshmandzadeh had seen over a third of Fitzpatrick's targets, was responsible for just under 40% of Fitzpatrick's completions, and over half of his Fitzpatrick's passing yards. Houshmandzadeh's longest reception was also his single TD of the day -- a late second-quarter 26 yard strike where he got easily got open behind the defense.
|WR Chad Johnson, Rec: 4 - 34 - 0 (8 targets)|
Johnson was clearly the second option in the Bengals' passing game downfield and struggled to make plays all day. Part of this was undoubtedly because QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was regularly under siege in the backfield and thus was constantly looking to dump the ball off to RB Cedric Benson or receivers running shorter routes. In the end, Johnson's mediocre season continued with only four receptions and 34 yards.
|WR Chris Henry, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (5 targets)|
Henry only managed to haul in a single eight yard reception during the game, and thus was not much of a factor. He likely discouraged QB Ryan Fitzpatrick from looking his way more often when he dropped an easy pass that would have kept Cincinnati's second drive of the game alive.
|TE Ben Utecht, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (3 targets)|
Targeted only three times, Utecht was not a factor in the Bengals' passing attack today.
|PK Shayne Graham 2 - 3 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 7 points|
While he made his first two field goals from 20 and 41 yards, respectively, it will be Graham's miss on his third attempt that everyone will remember from this game. On that FG attempt, Graham pushed right a 47 yard try with seconds left in overtime that, in all likelihood, would have given his team the upset win. Instead, the miss resulted in the NFL's first tie in just over six years.
|CIN Rush Defense|
While the Bengals defense didn't allow Eagles RB Brian Westbrook to run all over them, and only gave up a single big play to him, they were hardly a stone wall. Even so, the Eagles only chose to run the ball a total 18 times, and thus the run defense was not called upon to do all that much.
|CIN Pass Defense|
If there was a single word to describe the Bengals pass defense against the Eagles, it would be inconsistent. While they were occasionally able to generate a bit of a pass rush (and did record two sacks) more often than not they were unable to do so and gave Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb plenty of time in the pocket. Fortunately for them, McNabb seemed off all day and was only able to use the extra time to make a few big plays. Similarly, the defensive backfield was up and down all day. While they were largely unable to stop the Eagles passing attack when McNabb was on target, giving up some long plays, they were able to take advantage of those instances when he wasn't and snagged a total of three interceptions.