(Reuters) - The Cincinnati Bengals overcame a lackluster spell in the middle of the game to keep their playoff hopes alive with a 34-13 road win over the slumping Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.
With the victory, the Bengals improved to 8-6 on the season to climb up to second place in the AFC North and, more importantly, into the second wildcard position.
Having capitalized on Eagles errors to forge a 10-0 lead within seven minutes, the Bengals lost their focus and intensity as Philadelphia hit back with 13 unanswered points to take a three-point lead into the halftime intermission.
However, the Bengals pounced on a number of Eagles (4-10) turnovers in the second half to compile a 24-point winning run that condemned the hosts to a ninth loss in 10 games.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton shook off six sacks, the most in his two-season career to date, to throw 13-for-27 for 127 yards.
He also rushed for one touchdown and threw to fellow second year player A.J. Green for another, continuing the young duo’s impressive chemistry.
With games against division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore to come, Cincinnati remain in control of their own destiny as they fight to reach the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1981.
“The next two are really important. A lot of people throw the history of the organization out there and talk about the fact we haven’t had back-to-back playoffs in 30 years but we don’t know any different,” Dalton told reporters.
”We (Dalton and Green) came in our first year and made the playoffs so that’s what we expect, to make the playoffs every year.
“History is history but we weren’t here for that, now it’s time to change that.”
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was just happy to escape the road trip with the win.
“We know what’s at stake now,” he said. “We played the last 30 minutes the way we need to play in order to do what we need to do. We overcame ourselves today and got back in this thing.”
Running back Benjarvus Green-Ellis admitted the side had taken their foot off the gas after making a quick start.
“We came out kind of flat (in the second quarter),” Green-Ellis, who ran for 106 yards and a touchdown, said.
”We jumped out to a big lead and got ahead of ourselves. But we came out in the second half and played ball and our defense put us back in it.
“We needed that win and now we have a little bit of time to rest up and get ready for Pittsburgh.”
Writing by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien