Including preseason games, the Eagles are the last NFL team to make their first visit to Paul Brown Stadium more than eight years after the inaugural ball.
But there is plenty of familiarity with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer lined up against his old NFC East nemesis in Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb. Calling the plays for Zimmer is Dhani Jones, his middle linebacker that started Super Bowl XXXIX for the Eagles in the loss to the Patriots.
McNabb has played just once against the Bengals in a career that has spanned 112 starts since the Eagles took him second in the 1999 draft, forcing the Bengals to go with Akili Smith on the next pick. He beat them in a 16-7 game that wrapped up the 2000 season at Veterans Stadium with a 198-yard day that featured a 39-yard touchdown pass. The only Bengal left from that day is long-snapper Brad St. Louis.
Both McNabb and Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer missed the 2004 finale at Lincoln Financial Field, a 38-10 Bengals victory quarterbacked by Jon Kitna over former Bengal Jeff Blake. McNabb was readying for the playoffs that ended with the Super Bowl run and Palmer was on the shelf with a sprained knee. He's there again with an inflamed elbow, meaning the Eagles are the only team he hasn't faced in his NFL career.
Zimmer said last week he would spend the bye not trying to figure out first or third down, but second down. The Bengals defense is seventh in the NFL in allowing just 4.86 yards on first down, but next to last in third-down conversions.
"Maybe I've been too conservative, maybe not," said Zimmer, who has been pretty liberal with the blitz on third down. "We have to look at it and figure it out because we've been letting them get into manageable distances on third down. We'll look at everything. Calls, personnel, and go from there."
His defense is faced with an Eagles offense ranked 21st converting third downs, but Philly still has a running first-down marker in Brian Westbrook. The Eagles are also 13th among offenses getting 5.4 yards on first down.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
! Also including preseason, the Eagles are ending the longest Cincinnati drought in the NFL. They haven't been here since Rich Kotite's last game as head coach on Christmas Eve 1994, when Bengals rookie defensive tackle Pat Sims was nine years old. To this day it is still the quickest comeback in NFL history with Doug Pelfrey hitting two field goals in the final three seconds in a 33-30 win.
He tied the game at 30 with a 22-yarder with three seconds left and when defensive back Adrian Hardy recovered the on-side kick at the Eagles 37 with one second left, Pelfrey unloaded the second-longest field goal in Bengals history from 54 yards. It was the Bengals' third win of the season, all last-snap field goals by Pelfrey. This one was greeted by grown men weeping in the press box since it wiped out overtime and preserved the holiday eve flights back to Philly.
Two of the coaches Pelfrey beat, Kotite and Houston's Jack Pardee, were kicked out the day after his kicks.
"The Club is aware that the vehicular charges against Jason Shirley stemming from his college career have been resolved against him. He will likely complete the legal obligations required by the court during the offseason, and the Club expects that he will do what he needs to do to put this incident behind him and contribute to the football team."
Shirley was found guilty Monday of drunken driving and hit and run on Oct. 6, 2007, and was sentenced to 30 days in the adult offender work program in Fresno County Superior Court, according to The Fresno Bee.