Bengals boost playoff bid by downing Eagles

Updated 14 December 2012
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Bengals boost playoff bid by downing Eagles

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania: BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 106 yards and a touchdown while Andy Dalton ran for one touchdown and threw for another to lead Cincinnati over Philadelphia 34-13 in an NFL game Thursday night.
The victory boosted the Bengals to 8-6 and ahead of Pittsburgh for the final American Conference playoff spot, although the Steelers (7-6) could move back in front of Cincinnati with a triumph at Dallas (7-6) on Sunday night.
Cincinnati will visit Pittsburgh on December 23 and host Baltimore one week later and would reach the playoffs with triumphs in both contests.
The Bengals produced 27 points off five Philadelphia turnovers in dropping the Eagles to 4-10, the worst record in the National Conference.
Ellis scored on a one-yard run 3:50 into the game and Josh Brown added a 24-yard field goal to give Cincinnati a 10-0 lead, but the Eagles scored all their points in the second quarter on Nick Foles’ 11-yard touchdown toss to Riley Cooper and two Alex Henery field goals for a 13-10 half-time lead.
“We jumped out to a big lead and jumped ahead of ourselves and came out flat in the second quarter, but we got it back in the second half,” Green-Ellis said.
Dalton scored on an 11-yard run in the third quarter and Wallace Gilberry returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown just 49 seconds later to give the Bengals a 24-13 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Brown added a 32-yard field goal and Dalton flipped a five-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green for the final points.
“We just keep practicing to be perfect,” Green-Ellis said. “Early in the season things were hard for us. We just kept working and things have gotten easier and hopefully it keeps going for us.” New England, Houston and Denver have already clinched American Conference playoff spots and Baltimore and Indianapolis, both 9-4, hope to join them with 10 or more victories by winning on Sunday.
The Colts will visit Houston to face the Texans, who at 11-2 are level with the Atlanta Falcons for the best record in the NFL, while Baltimore will play host to Denver, which has already clinched the AFC West division crown.
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are fighting for the last American Conference spot along with the New York Jets (6-7), who visit Tennessee on Monday night.
In the National Conference, only the Falcons have secured a playoff berth by clinching the NFC South division.
NFC West leader San Francisco (9-3 with one drawn) will visit AFC East leader New England (10-3) for a key showdown of opposite-coast rivals, one that could be a potential preview of February’s Super Bowl championship final.
The Chicago Bears (8-5) will try to claim a share of the NFC North division lead when they play host to arch rival Green Bay Packers (9-4).
The NFC East-leading New York Giants (8-5) will be hard-pressed to keep their one-game edge in the division when they visit Atlanta, while Dallas will entertain the Steelers, and Washington, also at 7-6, will visit Cleveland (5-8).
Other games Sunday find Jacksonville at Miami, Minnesota at St. Louis, Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Seattle at Buffalo, Carolina at San Diego, Detroit at Arizona and Kansas City at Oakland.


What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

Updated 55 min 28 sec ago
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What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

  • Al-Hilal won their 15th top-flight title this season.
  • Big summer for Saudi Arabia football with the Green Falcons at the World Cup.

Now the Saudi Professional League season is over for another year Arab News can look back at their title tilts and what the big four clubs have to do over the coming months ahead of the next season.

 



AL-HILAL

Finished: Champions

Coaching situation: Ramon Diaz was in charge for much of the season, but was fired in February after setbacks in the Champions League.
Assistant Juan Brown did Okay in the final stretch, but a top-class coach could get more out of this team.

Squad priorities: A reliable goalscorer to support Omar Khribin and with veteran defender Osama Hawsawi leaving for pastures new, a replacement center-back with leadership qualities. Welcoming back the major stars — Carlos Eduardo, Khribin, Nawaf Al-Abed and Salem Al -Dawsari — will be a major boost.

Aim next season: Win the AFC Champions League

 



AL-AHLI

Finished: Second

Coaching situation: Sergiy Rebrov is out of contract at the end of June. His future is likely to depend on how the team fares against Al-Sadd in the second round of the AFC Champions League in May.

Squad priorities: There is not much wrong. The Jeddah giants were the highest scorers in the league last season and had the second best defense. Keeping star midfielder Leonardo fit will help as will a little cover in the center of defense. Star striker Omar Al-Somah fell out with the coach in a public way in the penultimate game of the season. It may be that one of them has to go. The Syrian has been player of the year for three years and has a longer contract than Rebrov.

Aim next season: Win the league. Maintain good performances in Asia.


 
AL-NASSR

Finished: Third

Coaching situation: Krunoslav Jurcic arrived in January and the former Croatian national team boss produced an upswing in results. May just be a temporary appointment and it needs to be sorted quickly.

Squad priorities: Looks good with the Saudi Arabia national team keeper, a strong center-back pairing of Omar Hawsawi and Bruno Uvini and the full-back position seemingly sorted with the January signing of Saad Suhail. They probably need a defensive midfielder and have to keep Junior Kabananga. The DR Congo striker has shown enough in his few weeks at the club to suggest that he could be a real star next season, especially with Leonardo pulling the strings behind him.

Aim next season: A genuine title challenge and getting through the play-offs into  the 2019 AFC Champions League.

 


AL-ITTIHAD

Finished: Ninth

Coaching situation: A bottom half finish is unacceptable for a team with Al-Itithad’s stature and history. Chilean coach Jose Luis Sierra may find that winning domestic cups is no substitute for challenging for the title.

Squad priorities: There is too much reliance on players such as Carlos Villanueva, a creative spark in the team, and Fahad Al-Ansari, the midfield engine, who are the wrong side of 30. The possible return of star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad will help, but an introduction of energy is needed.

Aim next season: Top three and, if the team wins the King’s Cup, a good showing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.