Turnovers no laughing matter for the Eagles

Cincinnati’s A.J. Green hangs onto a pass as Philadelphia’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie defends Thursday night.

PHILADELPHIA - Local ABC affiliate WPVI in Philadelphia inadvertently broadcast a comedy show on Thursday night instead of the hit TV show "Scandal."

The Eagles delivered a laughable performance in their 34-13 loss to Cincinnati at Lincoln Financial Field, committing five turnovers and another mistake that featured punter Mat McBriar having a kick blocked by teammate Marvin McNutt.

Now the Eagles are not only losing, they're embarrassing themselves.

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"When you're carrying the football, you're representing the Eagles fans, you're representing Mr. Lurie (Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie), you're representing the coaching staff," Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant said after the game. "When you carry that football, you're representing a whole bunch of people, and I don't think we have that mindset all the time. It has to become more than just about you."

The easy way out is to blame the mistakes on inexperience.

Running back Bryce Brown, who lost his fourth fumble in as many games, hasn't gotten this much playing time since his freshman year at the University of Tennessee in 2009.

Rookie quarterback Nick Foles, who threw his fourth interception of the season, was supposed to be Michael Vick's backup this year. Defensive tackle Cedric Thornton, who inexplicably tried to field a kickoff, is used to causing turnovers instead of committing them.

"I honestly don't know what's causing (the fumbles) because I've never had this problem before," Brown said after the game. "It could be (a lack of experience), but that's not an excuse. I thought I actually did pretty well with ball security today except for that one time."

The veterans have also been struggling. Fourth-year wide receiver Jeremy Maclin fumbled against the Bengals, as did third-year tight end Clay Harbor.

And turnovers have been a problem throughout the season. Vick threw nine interceptions and lost five fumbles before suffering a concussion against Dallas on Nov. 11. Running back LeSean McCoy, who fumbled just once all of last season, had three this year before also getting a concussion.

Taking care of the ball is a prerequisite for success. The Eagles, who are in last place in the NFC, now lead the league with 34 giveaways. Last season, they had 37 while missing the playoffs at 8-8. In 2004, when they reached the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1980 season, they had 22.

"Turnovers destroy you," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Friday at his weekly press conference. "If we didn't know that before this season, we know it now. You have to make sure you take care of business with the football in your hand."

At their current pace, the Eagles will finish the season with 39 turnovers. That would be the most since the Eagles also had 39 in Reid's first season in 1999, when they went 5-11.

Despite the mistakes, however, Reid has no plans to bench any of the recent offenders for the final two games against Washington and the New York Giants, respectively.

Vick has been cleared to play again when the Eagles resume their season on Dec. 23 against the Redskins, but Reid announced two weeks ago that Foles will be the starter for the rest of the season.

McCoy, who suffered a concussion at Washington on Nov. 18, has to be seen by by an independent neurologist, but could visit one as soon as Monday or Tuesday.

The 2011 Pro Bowler will get some playing time when he's cleared, but will be sharing carries with Brown.

"Right now, LeSean is not ready to go," Reid said. "I will play him when he's ready to go. But Bryce Brown needs to play. It's important that he keeps getting more carries and more time as he learns the game."

EXTRA POINTS: Reid indicated that safety Colt Anderson has played so well the last two games that he will remain the starting free safety ahead of Kurt Coleman. ... Reid also praised cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for their efforts against the Bengals. ... Cornerback Brandon Hughes was hospitalized after the game with a lung contusion, but has since been released. ... Tight end Brent Celek, who sat out the game with a concussion, should be ready to play again against the Redskins.

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