CINCINNATI -When Shayne Graham's 47-yard field goal sailed wide with just seven seconds left in overtime, strong safety Quintin Mikell jumped up and down pumping his fist as he returned to the sideline.
He thought the Eagles were still alive with another overtime to play. He wasn't as happy when he realized that for all that the Eagles defense did against the Bengals on Sunday, they ended up with a 13-13 tie, the first tie in the NFL since the Steelers and Falcons went scoreless in overtime in 2002.
"It's my first time experiencing that," Mikell said. "After I realized it was a tie, I was pretty pissed off."
The Eagles held the Bengals to 13 points and 282 total net yards. Bengals running back Cedric Benson was a non-factor with 42 yards on 23 carries. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, playing in place of the injured Carson Palmer, was sacked eight times. But all of the stats in the world won't change Sunday's outcome.
"I think it is (a loss)," cornerback Sheldon Brown said. "We didn't play consistently like we've been preaching all year."
The only person who gave the Eagles problems all day was wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who entered the game ranked third in the NFL in receptions. The Bengals ability to line him up in the slot and on the outside provided some favorable matchups, especially in the Eagles' sub-packages. Houshmandzadeh finished with 12 catches for 149 yards and the team's lone touchdown - which came on a 26-yard pass in the final minute of the first half.
Houshmandzadeh got the Bengals going on their final drive in overtime. After a 10-yard reception, the Bengals were awarded an additional 15 yards when Brown was called for roughing the passer. One of Brown's teammates called the penalty "bogus," but Brown insisted that if he pulled up and allowed a big play that he would have let his teammates down.
"My job is to play the game. I don't play the game dirty. I just play through the whistle," Brown said.
After a 5-yard run by Chris Perry, the Bengals - who struggled to gain ground all day - centered the ball for Graham's attempt. The kick had plenty of leg, but with the wind swirling in from the riverfront it drifted just wide at the last possible moment.
"It would have been devastating to lose like that," Brown said. "At the end of the day, I'm happy with the tie."
Ten of the Bengals' 13 points came off turnovers. And the defense seemed to be in unfavorable field position throughout the game.
After the Bengals recovered a Donovan McNabb fumbled and returned it to the Eagles' 1-yard line late in the first quarter, the defense was asked to keep the Bengals out of the end zone.
Four plays and one negative yard later, the Bengals secured the early lead. But the momentum was clearly in the Eagles favor.
On first down, running back Cedric Benson was wrapped up for no gain. At the center of the pile, it was middle linebacker Stewart Bradley who came up with the tackle.
The first quarter ended with that play and the Bengals had the chance to think about how to gain that pivotal one yard. On second down, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back and in a designed draw ran up the middle only to be stopped for a 1-yard loss by defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley. On third down, Fitzpatrick dropped back and tried to get the ball to wide receiver Chris Henry, but the pass was off-target and incomplete.
Graham converted the 20-yard field goal and the boos rained down from the Bengals fans at Paul Brown Stadium. The Eagles offense, which went three-and-out on their first three drives, drove 55 yards in six plays and tied the game on a 42-yard field goal by David Akers.
The defense continued to keep the Bengals at bay. But even they will say that they could have done more to take advantage of the toothless Bengals offense.
"I think they were doing some questionable things in risky situations, but we didn't capitalize on that," linebacker Chris Gocong said.
Clearly unable to consistently move the ball, the Bengals even went for it on a fourth-and-16 from the Eagles' 33-yard line late in the third quarter. The result was a Fitzpatrick scramble that netted only five yards. The Bengals were happy with settling for safe and in some ways it worked. Most notably, Cincinnati won the turnover battle - the Eagles coughed up the ball four times and the Bengals only lost a fumble when wide receiver Antonio Chatman was drilled by Mikell and had the ball stripped by middle linebacker Stewart Bradley, who led the team with 10 solo tackles and 12 overall.
"You have to look at the positives and it seems we've been on the (losing) end of close games a lot," Gocong said.