Eagles' latest loss filled with blunders

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 14, 2012
In another miserable performance, the Philadelphia Eagles put together a year's worth of blunders fit for a football follies video. A 34-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night featured four fumbles, one interception and one punt blocked by a teammate. That brought the Eagles' turnovers total to an NFL-high 34 in 14 games. They've only forced 12. ''Turnovers destroy you in this league,'' coach Andy Reid said Friday, stating the obvious. ''If we didn't know it before, we know it now.'' Lucky for the Eagles (4-10) and their frustrated fans, only two games remain in this nightmare season. ''I was thoroughly embarrassed,'' wide receiver Jason Avant said after another loss in front of a national television audience. ''I don't care if there were no cameramen there or if we were playing over at the University of Penn. That type of thing that happened was embarrassing wherever you are, even if you're in the sandlot. So, never mind that it was on a national stage, it was just not good football that happened. It just wasn't good.'' Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin started the giveaways by fumbling on the second play from scrimmage. On Philadelphia's next possession, there were a series of comical mistakes that occurred when the punting unit took the field. First, rookie linebacker Ryan Rau, who only plays special teams, didn't realize the Eagles were punting so he stood on the sideline. Tight end Clay Harbor noticed only 10 men out there and ran out at the last second, but one rusher broke free on the outside. Wide receiver Marvin McNutt tried to block him only to get pushed into punter Mat McBriar's kick. Those two gaffes led to 10 points for the Bengals. But the Eagles rallied to take a 13-10 lead into the third quarter. Then, they unraveled. The Eagles allowed 24 points in a span of 3:23. Three straight possessions went interception-fumble-fumble. That was followed up by another fumble when defensive lineman Cedric Thornton tried to catch a short kickoff. ''Turnovers killed us,'' Maclin said. ''You can't keep putting the defense inside of the 30-yard line. Eventually, an NFL team is going to score on you. This was on the offense and special teams.'' The emergence of rookie quarterback Nick Foles has been one of the few bright spots in a dismal season, but he took a step backward against the Bengals. Foles threw for 381 yards, including a game-winning TD pass on the final play to snap Philadelphia's eight-game losing streak. The Buccaneers, by the way, have the league's worst-ranked pass defense. Foles was just 16 of 33 for 182 yards with one TD pass and a pick against the Bengals. He underthrew Maclin on a deep pass that still went for a long gain in the second quarter. He underthrew him again on what should've been a long TD pass and got intercepted in the third quarter. That started the parade of turnovers. ''I just made a horrible throw,'' Foles said. ''The ball came out bad and it had a little bit of wobble to it. You have to really cut it and I didn't do that. I just have to spin it and it started fluttering toward the end. So it's a bad throw, it's one that I can't have.'' Reid defended Foles' arm strength, blaming his footwork and mechanics for the underthrows. ''Nick has one of the stronger arms in the league, but you have to make sure your feet are right and your drop is right,'' Reid said. ''You have to learn those things. That's one of the tougher things for young quarterbacks to do. Instead of taking what would normally be a five-step drop, he took what would be a seven-step drop. When you're in the gun, it would be a five as opposed to a three. He held too long on the safety and tried to look the safety off. These are rookie mistakes, and he'll learn from that. He's very diligent about those things, and he'll get it right. It wasn't a lack of arm strength that would cause that to take place.'' Foles will start next Sunday's game against Washington even though Michael Vick has been cleared to return after a concussion forced him to miss the last five games. Reid already said weeks ago that Foles will finish the season as the No. 1 quarterback. As for Vick, Reid hasn't decided whether he'll be the backup or No. 3 behind Trent Edwards. Notes: RB LeSean McCoy will see an independent neurologist next week, probably on Tuesday. He's missed the last four games with a concussion, but could play vs. the Redskins. ... TE Brent Celek has passed all tests in his concussion recovery and should be ready to go. ... DB Brandon Hughes was hospitalized overnight because of a lung contusion, but was released and should be fine. --- Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobMaaddi --- Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
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