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Bengals Get Chances In First Half, But Can't Make Philly Pay

Cincinnati Bengals' Tee Higgins scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
Cincinnati Bengals' Tee Higgins scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

The Eagles gave the Bengals every chance to take control of Sunday's game and Cincinnati missed it at every turn in falling behind 13-10 at halftime when Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz hit wide-open wide receiver Greg Ward down the right sideline for a stunning 29-yard touchdown pass on third-and-eight with 16 seconds left.

The Bengals called timeout before the snap and appeared to switch from man to zone and it looked like cornerbacks Darius Phillips and Mackensie Alexander had a failure to communicate.

It made you forget the Bengals had just taken a 10-6 lead with 1:29 left with wide receiver Tee Higgins' first NFL touchdown catch on rookie quarterback Joe Burrow's one-yard play-action flip.

But kicker Randy Bullock opened the door when he hooked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds.

_After surviving a frightening shot that took him out of the game for a play, Burrow shook it off and used another hurry-up drill to rescue his offense with a microwave drive that got them their first touchdown of the game with 1:29 left in the half.

With wide receiver A.J. Green held to one catch for five yards, the Bengals got the ball with 2:47 left and their longest play a 15-yard roughing penalty when Burrow got leveled.

But Burrow (12 of 18 for 94 yards in the half), began to post up his receivers. He hit Higgins for 16 before rolling out and finding wide receiver Auden Tate for 19 on the sideline. Then with pressure in his face he lofted a jump ball to the 6-5 Tate towering over 6-0 safety Jalen Mills to draw a 14-yard pass interference penalty and put the ball on the 1 to set up Higgins' score.

_One of the Bengals' longest plays of the first half came on the most frightening when Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson knocked out Burrow for one play during what was pretty much a brutal first 30 minutes for the Cincinnati offense. Their longest play was that 19-yarder to Tate (their longest to a wide receiver all year) and running back Joe Mixon had 30 yards rushing on nine carries.

_With about 11 minutes left in the half, Burrow rolled out left and encountered pressure. When he rolled back to the middle field, as he hit wide receiver Tyler Boyd for a nine-yard pass Jackson lifted Burrow into the air with a hellacious whiplash shot as he went to the ground that resulted in a 15-yard roughing penalty.

Back-up quarterback Ryan Finley handed off to Mixon for a two-yard gain while trainers hovered over Burrow. Burrow then showed his trademark toughness by taking the snap on third-and-eight. But tight end Drew Sample couldn't block Eagles end Derek Barnett as the Bengals gave up their second sack of the day.

_The Bengals tied it at 3 midway through the second quarter, but no thanks to the offense. The Eagles were having their own problems with tight end Dallas Goedert sustaining an injury and Bengals edge rusher Carl Lawson, giving left tackle Jason Peters fits all half, logged a third-down sack of Wentz for their second sack of the half.

But after a good Alex Erickson punt return and a 15-yard roughing call put the Bengals on the Philly 38, the Bengals couldn't get a first down. On first down center Trey Hopkins was called for a false start and when Burrow came out in an empty back-field set he called timeout when he saw the Eagles defense.

They couldn't get it back. On third-and-long, Burrow rolled out right but Green and Boyd couldn't get open working against three DBs it.

The Bengals defense, having a pretty good day until the last snafu, were all over Wentz on the second series. But their failure to take him to the ground was deadly and turned into the first score of the game, Jake Elliott's chip-shot field goal on the first play of the second quarter. The Eagles went up 3-0 with 99 yards of offense to just 29 for the Bengals.

_On the first set of downs in that drive, which began inside the ten after Kevin Huber's terrific punt, Lawson beat Peters to begin a trend. But Wentz stepped out of what would have been a double-digit loss and threw the ball away to keep the drive alive.

Then Bengals end Sam Hubbard came from the same side and Hubbard had him in his grasp, but Wentz slithered away and stepped up into the crowded line of scrimmage that almost him. But Wentz broke outside for a big gain and was clearly going out of bounds when middle linebacker Josh Bynes inexplicably hit him out of bounds for a 15-yard penalty and the Eagles were on the Bengals 20.

Hubbard finally got Wentz for a sack on third-and-three from the Philly 3 to set up Elliott's 27-yard field goal and he had safety Vonn Bell to thank because he was all over tight end Zach Ertz in coverage.

_But the Bengals offense just couldn't respond. Three snaps, another punt. Mixon ran for three yards on the first two snaps and on third-and-seven right guard Fred Johnson false started. On third-and-forever, they rolled out Burrow to the side of Boyd and Higgins and with Green bracketed on the back side, no one was open.

_Rookie linebacker Logan Wilson, who had ten interceptions in college at Wyoming, got his first NFL pick on the Eagles' opening drive. After the Eagles gouged them for 25 yards on running back Miles Sanders' first two carries, they faced a third-and-three. Nose tackle D.J. Reader pushed the pocket and deflected Wentz's pass and it fluttered to Wilson at the Bengals' 43.

Just the way Cincy wanted to start. Continue Wentz's miseries and they forced him into his fifth interception right away.

_But the Bengals offense let them off the hook. On first down Burrow had Boyd wide open for what would have been the wide receivers' first 20-yard gain of the year. But Boyd fell down on a ball that was also thrown behind him and on third-and-seven they could only get a five-yard undernreath to Green working on cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc and they had to punt again.

_The Bengals went two tight ends early in the opening drive with Drew Sample and Cethan Carter and Mixon started the game with two runs for first down. The first snap of the game featured Carter lined up in front of Mixon and Mixon rattled off an 11-yard run on a pitch left with left tackle Jonah Williams pulling out in front.

But on third-and-two from their own 45, where the Bengals went with four wide receivers, Williams let Josh Sweat get past him on his outside for a sack.

_For the third straight game the Bengals lost the toss and got the ball first. The lone Bengals captain at midfield for the toss was safety Vonn Bell

View some of the best in game images from the Week 3 matchup as the Bengals face the Eagles.