CINCINNATI -- In sharp contrast to the preseason opener, Kevin Kolb and the Eagles No. 1 offense labored through a half of football on Friday night, managing just six points, turning the ball over once and missing on its lone chance in the red zone against the Bengals.
A week earlier, Kolb moved the footbal up and down the field in his two-plus possessions. This time, the Eagles started with two three-and-out series and really got nothing going until a drive moved from the Philadelphia 36-yard line to the Bengals 36. On third and 9, though, a Kolb completion went to Jeremy Maclin, who made a nice second effort to reach the first-down mark. In the process, however, he lost control of the football and the Bengals recovered the fumble at their 25-yard line to end the threat.
Kolb and the offense managed a 55-yard ddrive on eight plays in the second quarter with a couple of big plays -- a 28-yard completion to DeSean Jackson, a 17-yard LeSean McCoy run and a Michael Vick run for 13 yards to the Cincinnati 22-yard line. But then Kolb was pressured and threw the ball away, missed Jason Avant in the end zone and misfired on a throw to Jackson. David Akers booted a 40-yard field goal to put the Eagles on the board.
Then the defense contributed a Quintin Mikell interception to set up the offense at the Bengals 42-yard line and the offense moved again. A completion to Jackson gained 21 yards and stopped the clock with 1:49 to go in the half. A pass to Brent Celek gained a first down at the Cincinnati 7-yard line and the Eagles had a first-and-goal play.
A direct snap to McCoy went for no gain and then Kolb missed on a throw to Jackson. On third and goal from the 7, Kolb rolled right and threw into the end zone for Avant for an apparent touchdown.
But wait. An illegal formation penalty called against Jason Peters -- his second such penalty and the third on the offensive line in the first half -- nullified the touchdown and moved the Eagles back 5 yards. From the 12-yard line, Kolb went to Avant for 5 yards, and Akers came trotting on once again.
Kolb's numbers were OK -- he completed 11 of 17 passes for 126 yards -- but the lack of a touchdown was disappointing. The running game struggled -- McCoy gained 20 yards on 6 carries -- just 3 yards on 5 carries if you take away the 17-yard gain -- and the Bengals won the battle at the line of scrimmage.
"We were a little stagnant on the first three drives there. We needed to pick the energy level up. We did it and we were better in the second quarter. We got our running game going a little bit and got a couple drives. Again, we just have to execute in the red zone. I missed a throw there in the end zone and we also had that penalty that cost us," said Kolb. "I think we did some good things; it was a positive day, but we have to start fine-tuning those details."
Maclin had a tough game, losing the fumble and later suffering a contusion on his left shoulder after a hit knocked him out of the game.
And the Bengals, a good defense, played very well. Kolb was quick to give them credit.
"Yeah, and you're going to have games like this. Cincinnati has a lot of games like this, where it is a grind. We've seen it when the weather gets cold that you have to be able to grind the ball and get your points when you're down there," said Kolb. "It's a good learning experience. It's not always going to be 45 points on the board and 500 yards. We can learn from it, we can move on, and that's why we're in the preseason.
"What I like is that we're getting a lot of different looks. We are seeing a lot of different things, so we're learning every single day. We're learning every game. That's what you want right now, especially with a young group, including myself. We want to learn every time we're on the field. We learned a lot today and we can get better from it and it'll help us during the season."
--* Posted by Dave Spadaro, 10:46 p.m., August 20*