Eagles Say It Loudly: ‘Good Night, Kotite’ : Interconference: Bengals kick two field goals in final three seconds for a 33-30 victory that probably seals coach’s fate.
The Philadelphia Eagles showed Saturday why they’re out of the playoffs and probably out of a coach.
Leading by 17 points in the second half, the Eagles couldn’t put away one of the NFL’s worst teams. And for the second consecutive week, they wound up losing in a bizarre finish.
The Cincinnati Bengals kicked two field goals in the final three seconds for a 33-30 victory in what may have been Rich Kotite’s final game as the Eagles’ coach.
Doug Pelfrey tied the score with a 22-yarder with three seconds left, and the Eagles’ Brian O’Neal flubbed the squibbed kickoff to turn the ball over with one second left. Pelfrey then hit a wobbly kick from 54 yards to finish off one of Philadelphia’s most miserable seasons.
The Eagles (7-9) started 7-2 and ended up with a seven-game losing streak--their longest in 11 years. They were eliminated from the playoffs last week when Eddie Murray missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt as time ran out.
They topped it Saturday by letting the Bengals (3-13) score 13 points in the final 3:32.
“I thought I’d seen it all, but now I have,” said Bubby Brister, the Eagles’ starting quarterback the last two games.
Kotite may have seen his last game with Philadelphia. He’s scheduled to meet Monday with owner Jeff Lurie, who’s expected to replace him. Kotite comes away with a 36-28 record in four seasons capped off by two madcap losses.
“What happened there, especially in the second half, and the way we let it slip away and the bizarre way we lost it is kind of indicative of what’s happened to us the last couple of months,” Kotite said. “I don’t have the answers.”
Said Lurie: “I’m going to sit down with Richie on Monday and we’ll go from there.”
The stunning finish let the Bengals avoid the worst record in franchise history, but that was little consolation. They have finished 3-13 three times in the last four years, but are expected to retain Coach Dave Shula.
Shula’s 11th victory in four seasons was one of his most unexpected. The Eagles appeared to have the game in hand after Michael Zordich returned their third interception 18 yards for a touchdown and a 27-10 lead early in the third quarter.
That’s when the NFL’s third-ranked defense went soft and an erratic Philadelphia offense went cold, letting the Bengals score 23 points in the final 26 minutes.
When Pelfrey’s final kick went through the uprights, the Bengals piled up in the middle of the field in celebration of one of their few good moments of the year.
“If anybody had any doubts out there that there’s a Santa Claus, they should be dispelled right now,” Shula said.
After the Bengals got within 30-27 with 3:32 left, the crowd of 39,932 got revved up when quarterback Jeff Blake ran 16 yards on fourth and 16 to keep alive the drive to the tying field goal.
After Pelfrey tied it, the Bengals were just trying to bounce the kickoff to run out the clock. None of them was even thinking about winning it in regulation. Pelfrey put on his baseball cap and wound up dashing onto the field without his helmet when Adrian Hardy picked up the loose ball.
“I ran out there in my baseball hat and had to run back. It was crazy,” Pelfrey said.