The Cincinnati Bengals came into Thursday night's game ranked 14th in the NFL in turnover ratio -- the Bengals had broken even, with 11 giveaways and 11 takeways.
Well, the Bengals got back on the positive side of that statistic during their 34-13 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. They came up with four second-half turnovers and turned them into 24 points that turned a close game into a rout.
The Bengals (8-6) are now a half-game ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC's second wild-card berth. The Steelers play at Dallas on Sunday.
The Eagles (4-10) led 13-10 at halftime, but the Bengals took a 17-13 lead late in the third quarter after cornerback Leon Hall intercepted an underthrown pass by Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and returned it 44 yards to the Eagles 40. That set up an 11-yard touchdown run by quarterback Andy Dalton that put the Bengals back on top.
They increased that lead when Eagles rookie running back Bryce Brown lost his fourth fumble in as many weeks and defensive Walter Gilberry scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 25 yards for a touchdown. And, just like that, the Bengals were leading 24-13.
And then, just like that, the Bengals were leading 27-13 after another Eagles fumble, this one by tight end Clay Harbor. The Bengals recovered the ball on the Eagles 25 and Josh Brown kicked a 32-yard field goal.
And then, just like that, the Bengals were leading 34-13 after Eagles defensive tackle Cedric Thornton muffed a short kickoff and Cincinnati recovered on the Eagles 33. That led to Dalton's 5-yard TD pass to wide receiver A.J. Green, and what had been a close gamebecame a rout.
When the game turned: The interception and 44-yard return by Hall late in the third quarter. The Eagles were leading 13-10 and driving for more points when Hall picked off an underthrown pass by Foles and took it back to the Eagles 40. That set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Dalton that made it 17-13 and put the Bengals ahead for good.
Highlight moments: The forced fumble by Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap that set the stage for the Bengals' first TD. … The 29-yard run by Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis that led to that first TD. … Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin's 46-yard reception from Foles in second quarter that led to Eagles' first TD. The Eagles faked a quick screen, which they ran few times earlier in the game, and the Bengals bit, allowing Maclin to get open deep. … The sack and forced fumble by Eagles' DT Cullen Jenkins that set up FG that gave Eagles 13-10 halftime lead. … The interception and 44-yard return by Hall in the third quarter. … The fumble recovery and 25-yard return for a TD by Gilberry in the third quarter.
- Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: Rushed for 106 yards on 25 carries.
- Eagles DE Brandon Graham: Had 2.5 sacks, three QB hurries, a tackle for a loss and a forced fumble.
- Bengals run defense: Held Eagles RB Bryce Brown to just 34 yards on 16 carries.
What they said about the Bengals' second-half turnover feast:
- Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin -- “We know exactly why we lost this game. It's simple -- we turned the ball over.”
- Bengals CB Leon Hall, whose interception set up go-ahead TD -- “Everybody knows that turnovers are the key to any game of football. We talk about that all the time on defense -- take the ball away -- and tonight we did it and that was the difference in the game.”
- Eagles TE Clay Harbor, whose lost fumble led to a Bengals TD: “We worked so hard to take that lead at halftime and then to give it back to them like we did, man, that hurts.”
Numbers you should know: Green-Ellis rushed for 46 yards in the first quarter and passed his previous season high of 1,009 yards, set with New England in 2010. He came into the game needing 35 yards for the record and he finished the game with 106 yards and now has 1,080 for the year. … When rookie FB Emil Igwenagu came into the game in the first quarter he became the 16th Eagles' player to make his NFL debut this season. … The Bengals came into the game having lost their last 10 primetime games. Their last victory came on Monday night in the 2007 season-opener against the Baltimore Ravens. … The last time the Eagles lost 10 games was in 2005, when they finished 6-10. … The Bengals converted 7 of 18 third-down situations (38 percent) and the Eagles converted 3-12 (25 percent).
Injury update: Bengals -- FB Chris Pressley left in the first quarter with a knee injury and did not return. OT Andrew Whitworth left in the fourth quarter with an illness and did not return. Eagles -- FB Stanley Havili strained a hamstring in the second quarter and did not return. … G Evan Mathis left in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle and did not return. … Not playing for the Eagles were TE Brent Celek (concussion), FS Kurt Coleman (bruised sternum), QB Michael Vick (concussion) and RB LeSean McCoy (concussion).
Going forward: Bengals -- If this team makes the playoffs they're going to have to earn it, as the Bengals finish the season facing a powerful one-two punch, the Steelers and Ravens, the two best teams in their division. Cincinnati has already lost to both of them this season, falling to the Ravens 44-12 in the first game of the year and the Stellers 24-17. Eagles -- They close the season with a couple NFC East games as Robert Griffin III leads the Redskins for his first visit to Lincoln Financial Field, then the Eagles head up the Jersey Turnpike for a rematch with the New York Giants, whom the Eagles beat 19-17 earlier in their season for their only divisional win of the season so far.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Philadelphia Eagles from blogger Kevin Noonan, follow @CBSSportsNFLPHI.
Stay dialed in on the Cleveland Browns on Twitter at @CBSBrowns throughout the season with on-site updates from CBSSports.com RapidReports correspondent Marty Gitlin.