CINCINNATI (AP) — Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick put on a Bengals hat that he got from a young fan on his way off the field, enjoying the moment.
For the first time in 42 days, it was fun again in Cincinnati.
The Bengals put together their best all-around game of the season on Sunday, beating the Eagles 32-14 . The offense scored on its first six possessions — something Cincinnati hadn’t done since 2009 — as Cincinnati sent Philadelphia to its most lopsided defeat of the season.
So what if it probably makes no difference in the long run? The Bengals (4-7-1) needed a win to soothe their souls.
“We’ve lost a lot of close games, and we’ve been tied,” rookie receiver Cody Core said. “Now everybody in the locker room is enjoying themselves, happy and smiling.”
Same old, same old for the Eagles (5-7) , who have dropped seven of nine after their 3-0 start. They couldn’t get to Andy Dalton, and they couldn’t get much out of an injury-depleted offense led by rookie quarterback Carson Wentz as Cincinnati pulled ahead 29-0.
“It’s my ninth year of supposedly not going to the playoffs,” cornerback Leodis McKelvin said. “How do you think we feel about this situation? Our goal is to get into the playoffs. As you can see right now, it’s not happening right now.”
The Bengals appear to have finally found their footing after losing receiver A.J. Green and running back Giovani Bernard to injuries. Dalton threw to nine receivers, spreading the ball around in a reconfigured offense. He finished 23 of 31 for 332 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a season-high passer rating of 130.
“We were in a better rhythm today,” Dalton said. “It just comes with time. We’ve got new guys in there. It was definitely a big improvement this week.”
Some takeaways from the Bengals’ lopsided win:
DALTON EMERGES: Dalton’s solid showing ended his streak of subpar games while he was under pressure. In the past four games, he threw four touchdowns and four interceptions. He also got sacked 10 times as the Bengals went 0-3-1.
“We gave him time and space, and he operated,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “When we give him the opportunity to find people, he always pays off.”
NUGENT’S STRUGGLES CONTINUE: Mike Nugent missed another point-after-touchdown kick wide to the right, his fourth miss in a span of five PAT tries. Nugent made field goals from 32, 33, 26 and 38 yards, the last one deflecting off the left upright. After he missed the extra-point kick, he was booed when he came on the field again for another kick. The Bengals have been patient with him to this point, noting there’s no other proven kicker available.
WENTZ’S GROWING PAINS: The second overall pick in the draft, Wentz became the first rookie in league history to throw at least one touchdown pass without an interception in each of his first three games. In the past five games, he has three touchdowns and eight interceptions.
“Teams have film on us and film on Carson,” coach Doug Pederson said. “They’ve attacked differently. It just all begins to kind of snowball. It gets us obviously in the situation we’re in.”
NO SACKS AGAIN: The Eagles came into the game determined to get to Dalton, but he wasn’t sacked. The Eagles got 20 sacks in the first six games, but have only six sacks in the past six games. This showing was especially frustrating because Dalton has been among the league leaders in getting sacked.
“We aren’t getting to the quarterback the way we should,” defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said.
“When teams have success at dinking and dunking us, they see the previous teams. It’s a copycat league. Teams are going to do that and get rid of the ball quick.”
LACK OF ENTHUSIASM: The Bengals sold only 55,456 tickets for the game, leaving more than 10,000 empty seats. It was by far their smallest crowd of the season.
A banner in the upper deck summed up the mood in Cincinnati: “Watch. Wince. Repeat.”