By Al Thompson
After the Eagles bungled their way to a 23-23 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at empty Lincoln Financial Field, Carson Wentz’s 62.8 quarterback rating, combined with his disappointing performances in the first two games of the season, add up to a combined QB rating of 63.9, which has the fifth-year starter ranked No. 36 among passers listed on NFL.com.
Wentz is leading the league with six interceptions, and his microscopic 5.6 yards per attempt is last in the NFL.
Against the Bengals (0-2-1), Wentz was 29-of-47 for 225 yards, one touchdown pass, two interceptions and a fumble. He rushed nine times for 65 yards and the game-tying, 7-yard touchdown run with 21 seconds left in regulation.
When asked about his two interceptions, Wentz punted.
“I’ll have to watch the tape,” Wentz said at his post-game video conference. “Honestly, you go through a game and you make poor decisions, you make great decisions, you make some good throws, you miss some throws. Some of the throws are communication, some of them are unfortunate. Some guys are making good plays. I have to be better – and I know that and I will be. I’ll learn from it. That’s really all I can say.”
In addition to the two interceptions, Wentz overthrew Miles Sanders on what looked like a sure touchdown in the fourth quarter. But Wentz led the Birds (0-2-1) on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 7-yard touchdown run that tied the game and sent it to overtime.
The Eagles defense dominated Joe Burrow and the Bengals in overtime, stopping the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft on all three Bengals drives, sacking him twice and limiting him to one first down in those three drives.
The Eagles had multiple opportunities to win the game in overtime.
The Birds’ second drive reached the Bengals’ 43- and 42-yard line, respectively, but they were pushed back each time by penalties to right tackle Lane Johnson (false start) and Nate Herbig (holding), who was making his third NFL start.
Wentz started the Eagles’ last drive with great field position at their own 45-yard line and 1:41 left in overtime. The Eagles moved the ball to the Cincinnati 41 with 23 seconds left, fourth down and no time outs. Pederson was going to have Jake Elliott try to win the game on a 59-yard field goal.
Elliott had hit a 54-yard shot in the third quarter. But a false start by guard Matt Pryor moved the ball back five yards, then a delay of game called on the Eagles moved the ball back five more yards. Now it was fourth and 17 from the Philadelphia 49-yard line with 19 seconds left.
Pederson, instead of going for it, decided to punt, knowing he was settling for a tie. After the game he said it was the right decision, but on Monday, Pederson said, in hindsight, he should have gone for it.
“My decision. Looking back, I probably would have elected to maybe go for it in that situation and try to move the ball down the field.” Pederson said.
Greg Ward Jr. led the Eagles with eight catches for 72 yards and a 29-yard touchdown reception. Zach Ertz caught seven passes for 70 yards. Miles Sanders rushed for 95 yards on 18 carries.
The Bengals had virtually no running game. As a team, Cincinnati rushed 18 times for 48 yards.
Burrow was impressive despite getting sacked eight times. The former LSU star was 31-of-44 for 312 yards and two touchdown passes. He did not throw an interception.
The Eagles defense has not come up with a turnover yet this season.
Veteran linebacker Brandon Graham was asked about that glaring stat.
“We have to do better with that,” said Graham, who recorded four solo tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and four quarterback hurries. “We were talking about it out there, trying to make turnover plays. They did a good job on protecting the ball. Opportunities came for us to get the ball and we just didn’t get it. I will say we stayed together through all the adversity we went through in this game. We are going to come in Wednesday ready to work.”
Wentz said he is aware of the ups and downs the Eagles offense is experiencing so far this season. He vows to make it right.
“Really, that’s every game,” Wentz said. “You’re going to miss a couple throws and you’re going to make some plays. Things happen. Obviously, I just have to be better … handle some of these. Some of them are communication, just making sure we’re on the same page with everybody, and some are just poor throws. I have to be better, and I will. We’re still meshing and jelling as a team and building the chemistry. There were a lot of moving pieces today, not as an excuse, but guys will continue to get this experience and learn from it. We’ll all be better, including myself.”
Eagles will have to play without Dallas Goedert and Avonte Maddox for a while, Doug Pederson said at his video conference.
Pederson did say DeSean Jackson’s hamstring strain may not keep him off the field against San Francisco. Jackson had just two first-half catches for 11 yards.
Left tackle Jason Peters limped off the field with 55 seconds left in overtime but the 38-year-old should be good to go for Sunday.
Pederson said Peters, 38, is OK. “It was just some fatigue that set in late in the game.”
The coach also said there is an outside chance that Alshon Jeffery could see some time.
With rookies Jalen Reagor out with thumb surgery and sixth-round rookie Quez Watkins (hamstring) sidelined, the Eagles offense could use some help, especially a big target like Jeffery.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, a 2019 second-round draft pick, was not targeted on Sunday. ••
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii