The Philadelphia Eagles blew a golden opportunity to move into a first-place tie in the NFC East today when they turned the ball over four times and took a 37-13 drubbing from the lowly Cincinnati Bengals at Riverfront Stadium.
The Eagles lost the ball on three of their first four possesions.Each time the turnovers became points for the Bengals.
Philadelphia Coach Dick Vermeil, who was gushing about his team two weeks ago when it had a 6-1 record and was on top of the world, had some harsh words for his troops today after they played their second straight bad game and looked out-classed by a Cincinnati team that went into the game with a 1-7 record.
"I'm upset with our performance and they know it," Vermeil said. "It's one thing to get beat, but when you give a game away like this . . . We played like horse stuffing. I know we're better than this, but I guess we aren't if we don't play like it."
The defeat dropped the Eagles to 6-3 and left them tied with Washington for second place in the division, one game behind Dallas.
Both the Redskins and Cowboys had lost before this game began. Things started badly for the Eagles and got worse.
On their first possession, quarterback Ron Jaworski was intercepted by Jim Browner, a rookie from Notre Dame making his first start. Browner returned the ball 15 yards to the Eagle 27-yard line.
Pete Johnson, the Bengals' 259-pound fullback, scored on a 15-yard pass from Ken Anderson three plays later.
Wally Henry fumbled the next kick-off and Browner recovered at the 26.This time the Bengals had to settle for Chris Bahr's 24-yard field goal.
Philadelphia held the ball long enough the next time to get a 50-yard field goal from Tony Franklin, but on their following possession LeRoy Harris fumbled at his 19.
Archie Griffin caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Anderson a minute later and the Bengals had a 17-3 lead after one quarter.
Wilbert Montgomery's fumble in the third period gave the Bengals, who had a 27-6 lead at the time, possession at Philadelphia's 13. Johnson scored four plays later from the one.
Philadelphia scored its only touchdown on reserve quarterback John Walton's eight-yard pass to Harold Carmichael with 53 seconds left in the game.
Jaworski was kicked in the shin and twisted his ankle in the third period and did not play after that.
If there was a bright spot for the Eagles, it was that Carmichael tied a National Football League record by catching a pass in his 105th consecutive game. He can break the record, which he now shares with Danny Abramowicz, next week at home against the Cleveland Browns.
Griffin, who had been hinting he wanted to be traded next season, turned in one of his best games in his four years as a Bengal. He rushed for 103 yards on six carries and caught four passes for 50 yards.
His 63-yard scamper, on which he started to his left on a sweep and cut back down the right sideline to the 10, set up a field goal.