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 CINCINNATI (AP) -Thirty-eight seasons went by since the Cincinnati Bengals' last tie, showing it takes something special to go through an entire game without someone coming out ahead.
Whatever it is, these Bengals have it.
A 13-13 tie with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday was only the second in franchise history. The last time the Bengals (1-8-1) played to a tie was 1969, when they were a second-year expansion team still trying to find their way. They went to Houston and played to a 31-31 tie in the Astrodome.
That was coach Paul Brown's team, and it went on to lose its last five games after the tie, finishing 4-9-1. This one has a ways to go to keep up with that low standard.
The Bengals did a few things seldom seen in franchise history while slogging to their second-ever tie. They matched the club record for punts, failed to get into the end zone after a first-and-goal inside the 1, and blew a chance to win it at the end.
NFL's first tie in six years.
``It feels weird,'' receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said.
Weird, it was. Predictable, too.
The Bengals have been slogging along with a young defense that seems to be getting better and an experienced offense that's going nowhere. Ten of their 13 points were set up by Donovan McNabb's fumble and the first of his three interceptions.
They played five quarters, had 18 possessions, got the benefit of four turnovers and managed only 13 points.
``For whatever reason, we had great field position and we just couldn't get it done,'' Houshmandzadeh said. ``It's how it's been all season. I don't know why it's been this way. But had the defense not played they way they played, it would have been ugly out there. Offensively, we didn't help them out at all.''
The signature moment on Sunday: Frostee Rucker recovered McNabb's fumble and ran it back within a foot of the goal line late in the first quarter. Two running plays lost a yard, and Ryan Fitzpatrick's third-down pass slipped off the hands of Chris Henry, who hasn't done much of anything since he returned from his suspension.
Graham's field goal was a huge letdown, the first of many.
The passing game was reduced to Fitzpatrick throwing to Houshmandzadeh, who had 12 catches for 149 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown.
He is a guy that I can count on to catch the ball.''
No one else could be counted on. Chad Ocho Cinco caught four passes for 34 yards, and dropped one pass. Henry caught one pass, dropped another and had two go off his hands. Antonio Chatman also caught a pass. The rest of Fitzpatrick's completions went to running backs and tight ends.
That's no way to run an offense.
``Our frustration level is high right now,'' said Fitzpatrick, who will start his sixth straight game Thursday night in Pittsburgh while Carson Palmer recovers from an elbow injury.
It could get worse. Left tackle Levi Jones and guard Andrew Whitworth got hurt against the Eagles, and it's unclear whether either will be available against the Steelers. Jones hobbled off the field in the first half, apparently bothered by a sore left knee. Whitworth sprained his right ankle in the second half, forcing Jones to go back into the game.
Coach Marvin Lewis declined to say whether either will play against the Steelers, who beat the Bengals 38-10 at Paul Brown Stadium a month ago. Fourth-round draft pick Anthony Collins, an offensive tackle who was inactive against the Eagles and has appeared in only three games, could get his first NFL start against one of the league's top defenses.
``There's no better debut than against the best,'' Lewis said. ``So, there's no better time to do it than the present. If Anthony's our guy come Thursday night, he'll be up and ready to go and excited about it. You can't pick and choose who you debut against.''
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