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Another painful loss for Eagles, and especially Clay Harbor

andy schwartz csnphilly

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#1 herbicide

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 09:06 AM

Schwartz

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Another painful loss for Eagles, and especially Clay Harbor

December 14, 2012, 8:00 am

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Clay Harbor sat in his locker and could barely put on his socks.

Starting for Brent Celek (concussion), Harbor made his first reception of the game at the Cincinnati 1-yard line with 28 seconds left in the first half. On the play, he was drilled in the back. Three plays later, the Eagles settled for a field goal and entered halftime with a 13-10 lead over the Bengals. Harbor walked into the locker room in pain.

"Just got hit a certain way where [I got] back spasms," a grimacing Harbor said shortly after that 13-10 lead evaporated into a 34-13 debacle (see Instant Replay). "I really couldn't move the way I wanted to or do anything the way I wanted to after that play. I was just laboring and trying to fight for my teammates at that point knowing Brent's out and obviously I have to go."

Before imploding in the second half, the Eagles opened the game with an omen. A Jeremy Maclin fumble on the their first possession -- credit defensive end Carlos Dunlap with a nice strip -- led to the Bengals' first score.

The Eagles' second possession ended when Mat McBriar's punt was blocked -- by teammate Marvin McNutt, who was bull-rushed into the path of the ball by Bengals 5-foot-10, 215-pound rookie Daniel Herron. Moments earlier, Harbor had sprinted onto the field to join the punt team after noticing the Eagles were a player short.

"I just saw we needed a guy, so I ran on the field and took the spot for him," Harbor said. "I saw we needed a guy on the punt team and I know the protections, so I ran out there, and we got the punt off. I mean we didn't ... "

Harbor wouldn't name the culprit, but in a rare moment of transparency, his head coach did.

"We had the one problem on special teams where Ryan Rau got caught up [on the sideline] when he needed to be out on the punt block," Andy Reid said. "He's a new guy who's learning what we're doing. The bottom line comes down to the five turnovers and the 31 points."

Four of the five occurred in a seven-minute span in the second half. The Eagles turned the ball over on their final three possessions of the third quarter. Four plays, three turnovers. The last one was a fumble by Harbor, who lost it after making a 16-yard reception and being popped by linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

Harbor didn't blame his back.

"No, I had the ball," he said. "I've just gotta hold on to that."

Then, when the Eagles were supposed to get the ball for the first time in the fourth quarter, defensive tackle Cedric Thornton ran to grab a short kickoff -- and watched the ball sail right through his arms.

Five plays later, the Bengals scored again.

"Definitely should have been a fair catch. That was my fault. I was running, looking to make a big play," Thornton said. "I was definitely selfish.

"I never drop them in practice. I dropped that one when the game was on the line. I just need to be more focused. It was my fault. I lost sight of the ball when the ball was in the air. I was running on the go."

With two minutes left in the third quarter, the Eagles led 13-10. With 12:47 left in the fourth quarter, they trailed 34-13.

It's been that kind of season.

"It just seems like, in the game, things are looking well, we're playing well, and then one thing happens and it snowballs on us," Harbor said. "It put the defense in some really tough spots there, and they did a good job. We just gotta be able to be tougher mentally and fight through those spells like that."

Until they do, they'll continue to see swaths of empty seats in the fourth quarter, as they did Thursday night.

"It's been the roughest time of my NFL career or my collegiate career," seven-year veteran Jason Avant said. "It's definitely hard seeing the fans leave in the third quarter. It's definitely hard watching turnovers over and over again.

"You don't ever want to put yourself in that position where the fans are leaving because it's not the fans -- it's us. We're stinkin' it up, and we've got to do better."

E-mail Andy Schwartz at aschwartz@comcastsportsnet.com.


#2 LaxPlayerX3

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 03:03 PM

"You don't ever want to put yourself in that position where the fans are leaving because it's not the fans -- it's us. We're stinkin' it up, and we've got to do better."

Where's CM****ot again?