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Week 15 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 34, Philadelphia Eagles 13

Cincinnati Bengals

QB Andy Dalton, Pass: 13 - 27 - 127 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 8 - 18 - 1

Philadelphia's toothless pass rush got fitted for some proverbial dentures between Weeks Fourteen and Fifteen, and that made for a rough night for the second-year quarterback from TCU. Dalton threw for a Christian Ponderesque one hundred and twenty-seven yards, completing thirteen of twenty-seven attempts. He also took an eye-opening six sacks for a loss of thirty-five yards, turning the ball over twice in the process. Granted, the game script did not ask too much of Dalton on a short week against the Eagles. Philadelphia was, without a doubt, feeling the spirit of the season and turned the ball over to the Bengals an incredible five times, routinely giving Cincinnati a short field.

Making great strides on his second go-round through the league, Dalton appeared to severely regress against an Eagles defense that many left for dead. He looked skittish in the pocket, holding on to the ball too long and pump faking too many times on several plays. The ball did not come out of his hand quickly, and often Dalton's indecisiveness drove him to checking down or getting sacked. His long pass of the evening came on a nineteen-yard screen pass to Jermaine Gresham, one of only three skill players who caught a pass from Dalton. As previously mentioned, though, not much was required of Dalton, with the Bengals often setting up shop in Eagle territory after a Philadelphia turnover. Dalton did find an open lane in the Philadelphia red zone for an eleven-yard touchdown run, and he and A.J. Green still hooked up for a touchdown on a fade pass -- and came close to another on the Bengals' previous possession. Chalk the Red Rider's performance up to a short-week and look-ahead games as the Bengals gear up to play their AFC North rivals in the season's final weeks. 

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Rush: 25 - 106 - 1

The Law Firm dominated the touches out of Cincinnati's backfield as the Bengals opted to keep the ball on the ground against the Eagles. Green-Ellis carried the ball a healthy twenty-five times for one hundred and six rushing yards, the fourth time in five games he has topped the century mark. Roughly a quarter of Green-Ellis's total yards came on his first carry of the game, a twenty-nine yard jaunt that brought the Bengals into the Eagles' red zone during their first drive of the evening. Following an eight-yard catch by A.J. Green, the Bengals put the Law Firm on retainer, calling his name on four straight plays. Getting a first down at the Philadelphia two-yard line, Green-Ellis got stopped twice short of the stripe before plunging in on his fifth touch of the drive. The Bengals' first drive of the game proved Green-Ellis' most exciting series of the night, as he resumed his "just a guy, but a guy with volume" ways afterwards, with most of his runs of the three and four-yard variety. He did exhibit a significant amount of patience in letting runs develop, routinely following his blockers and not electing to bounce to the outside when gaps in the defense did not manifest immediately. Green-Ellis is hardly a sexy player, but he continues to be one of the league's most WYSIWYG players, and for the Bengals, that is a good thing.

WR A.J. Green, Rec: 6 - 57 - 1 (10 targets)

The only Bengals receiver to record a catch against the Eagles, Green hauled in six passes on ten targets for fifty-seven yards through the air. He also broke a three-game scoring drought on a five-yard fade pass reception from Andy Dalton in the fourth quarter. Even with the Philadelphia pass rush dominating and Dalton totally off his game, Green still got his and added to the long list of reasons why he is the AFC's most dominant wide receiver. The Bengals got Green involved on a variety of routes, including quick slants to allow Green to get yards after the catch, as well as jump-ball fade routes and go routes to permit him to showcase his speed and physically dominate the Eagles' secondary. While Green recorded one touchdown in the fourth quarter -- his NFL-leading eleventh amongst all wide receivers -- he came close to a second one on the Bengals' previous possession. On third-and-eleven at the Philadelphia fourteen-yard line, Andy Dalton had Green open in the end zone, but his pass hit the helmet of Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and caromed out of Green's reach.

WR Marvin Jones, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0 (4 targets)

Andy Dalton targeted Jones four times, but the two were unable to hook up for a completion. The rookie from California did take a first-quarter end-around for ten yards, showcasing his smooth gait and quickness. With defenses continuing to focus on A.J. Green, the Bengals are in need of a second receiver to play opposite Green, and Jones is emerging from the team's pile of young pass-catchers as their man, permitting he and Andy Dalton synchronize.

TE Jermaine Gresham, Rec: 6 - 63 - 0 (9 targets)

Gresham was a busy man against Philadelphia, snagging six balls for sixty-three yards on nine targets. Andy Dalton relied on Gresham heavily on third downs, checking down to Gresham in the flat. Gresham converted on third down about as often as he did not, showing a knack for the extra yard by lowering his shoulder and driving through Philadelphia defenders, seemingly stretching out his very molecules to obtain a first down. The third-year tight end missed a late-game opportunity for his sixth touchdown of the season, as he was unable to keep both feet in-bounds on a six-yard pass in the end zone from Andy Dalton.

Philadelphia Eagles

QB Nick Foles, Pass: 16 - 33 - 182 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0

Foles headed the Eagles' Benny Hill routine of an offense against the visiting Bengals on the last Thursday night game of the season. The rookie from Arizona completed sixteen of his thirty-three pass attempts with one touchdown pass, as Philadelphia turned the ball over a cringe inducing five times. To his credit, most of the turnovers were not Foles' fault. His lone fumble was a result of miscommunication with Bryce Brown on a handoff. He did lead Bengals cornerback Leon Hall a bit on his sole interception, but Jeremy Maclin could have done a better job of breaking off his route and coming back to the ball to prevent the pick. 

Otherwise, Foles continues to develop as a pocket passer in the NFL, and the Eagles' decision to commit to him for the rest of the 2012 season does not seem as reprehensible as it once did. The rookie passed the eye test in terms of deceiving the defense, getting Cincinnati to bite on a fake bubble screen and turning it into a forty-six yard completion to Jeremy Maclin. This ability to fool the defense worked several times in Foles' favor, including a ten-yard screen pass to Bryce Brown that Foles faked first, and when Foles fooled Leon Hall for a twenty-six yard completion to Jason Avant. Foles routinely picked up the pressure from the Bengals' pass rush and either threw the ball away or extended the play to move the ball down the field. Onlookers saw a certain level of unflappability in Foles, who remained a cool customer in a collapsing pocket play after play. After a few games of chock full of miscues, Foles played relatively mistake-free football, and at least kept the Eagles alive despite the team's penchant for turnovers. His one touchdown pass came on an eleven-yard pitch-and-catch to Riley Cooper, in which Foles stood tall in the pocket and allowed his receiver to get open for a short score. Foles may lack a rocket arm and he is certainly not a track star on the ground, but his week-over-week development indicates that the Eagles have a prospect they should keep rather than jettison.

RB Bryce Brown, Rush: 16 - 34 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets)

Brown looked lost against a solid Cincinnati front seven at Lincoln Financial Field. Toting the rock sixteen times for an unimpressive thirty-four yards, Brown found no room to run against the Bengals. He added one screen pass reception for eleven yards. With no holes opening up on his runs, he often attempted to bounce to the outside for extra yardage, but those efforts bore no fruit. The rookie did dominate the snap count amongst the remaining running backs on the Eagles' roster, but the Eagles had to abandon the run as their giveaways mounted and Cincinnati capitalized on a short field several times. Worth mentioning in this space is Brown's lackadaisical approach to carrying the football -- loose and away from his body. While Brown did not lose a fumble against the Bengals in Week Fifteen, odds are that he will in the games that remain on the Eagles' schedule if he continues his current approach.

WR Jeremy Maclin, Rec: 4 - 73 - 0 (9 targets)

Maclin led all Eagles in receptions, receiving yards and targets as Philadelphia's top option in the passing game. Opening the game with a fumble on a six-yard out route, Maclin redeemed himself later in the game with a tremendous forty-six yard go route reception after Foles got the Bengals to bite on a fake bubble screen. Foles looked immediately to Maclin on the next play at Cincinnati's eleven-yard line, but Maclin fell down and could not catch the pass. The game was, overall, a mixed bag for the Eagles' top receiver, who finished with seventy-three yards on four catches. While Maclin had no trouble finding the soft spots in the Bengals' defense or getting separation from Cincinnati's secondary, he was responsible for the first of Philadelphia's four fumbles, and he did not come back to the ball on Nick Foles' one interception of the game. Running deep into Cincinnati territory, Maclin did not break off his route, and Bengals cornerback Leon Hall cut him off for a forty-four yard interception return. 

WR Jason Avant, Rec: 3 - 44 - 0 (4 targets)

Avant proved to be a sure-handed option for quarterback Nick Foles against the Bengals on Thursday night. Foles looked Avant's way twice on third downs. On one third-and-five play, Foles picked up the Bengals' pressure and extended the play with his legs, allowing Avant to get open and completed a twenty-six yard catch downfield. Avant also showed tremendous athleticism in snagging an out route pass in midair with defenders in coverage. Converting three of his four targets, Avant is likely to receive a steady diet of looks as the Eagles acclimate Nick Foles to the NFL.

WR Riley Cooper, Rec: 3 - 20 - 1 (7 targets)

Peppered with targets like a steak headed for the grill, Cooper caught three passes for twenty yards, including the Eagles' lone touchdown on Thursday night. The majority of Cooper's pedestrian yardage total came on his eleven-yard pitch-and-catch reception from Nick Foles early in the second quarter. Otherwise, Cooper was the intended receiver on a handful of quick slant routes. The mounting injuries on the Eagles' offensive side of the ball dictate that Cooper will continue to see a significant number of snaps -- and his size is a welcome presence among Philadelphia's undersized receivers -- but Cooper and Foles were not on the same page against the Bengals. Call it a silver lining, but Cooper was one of the few Eagles receivers to not fumble after completing a catch.

TE Clay Harbor, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (6 targets)

Filling in for the injured Brent Celek as Philadelphia's TE1, Harbor caught three of his six targets for thirty yards receiving, and joined the Eagles' fumble circus with a fourth-quarter lost ball following a sixteen-yard catch up the seam. The rapport between Nick Foles and Harbor is evident, though the box score might dictate otherwise. Foles looked to Harbor on a bevy of pass plays, including a sideline go route in which Harbor exhibited a level of speed that is absent from Brent Celek's skill set. Foles ended up overthrowing Harbor on the play. Harbor did experience back spasms in the first half of the tilt against the Bengals, but played through them. As long as Celek continues to be sidelined following a concussion -- and, given the state of the Eagles, it stands to reason that Philadelphia will not rush Celek back -- Harbor should continue to function as the Eagles' primary pass-catching tight end.

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