Donovan McNabb shouldn’t feel so bad about not knowing an NFL game can end in a tie. For starters, there’s not been a draw since a Falcons/Steelers stalemate in 2002, and McNabb probably figured that around the 5 hour mark he’d either stop turning the ball over or the Bengals would make more of the opportunites. For the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Ford, however, the bottom line is pretty simple : “If you can’t beat the Cincinnati Bengals, not only aren’t you going to the playoffs, you don’t really belong there.”

“The confidence is high,” quarterback Donovan McNabb said about the offense. “There’s no waver in our confidence on the offensive side. We’ve done a lot of great things so far this year, and we’ll continue to do a lot of great things.”

It must be a wonderful season on his planet, but around here it doesn’t really seem that promising. The Eagles are 5-4-1 with games still remaining against a decent Baltimore team and also against their three NFC East division rivals.

Maybe they can be counted on to beat Arizona and Cleveland – emphasis on the maybe – but the team that played Cincinnati yesterday can definitely lose all four of the others. That is what we could be looking at here, a 7-8-1 record in a season in which McNabb stays healthy. That kind of shoots holes in the everything-is-OK-here line of reasoning.

Sometimes football is a very elemental game. If you need to get a yard, you have your big guys knock the other big guys out of the way, and you hand the ball off and get the yard. That’s not happening now, and Reid doesn’t know why. McNabb doesn’t know why. Of course, until yesterday Donovan didn’t know that NFL regular-season games can end in a tie, either. He thought they just keep playing.

“I’d hate to see what happens in the Super Bowl or I’d hate to see what happens in the playoffs, to settle with a tie,” he said.

We’ll leave that where it is for the moment, what it means that an NFL quarterback, a veteran of 10 years, doesn’t know the rules by which the game is played. At least it doesn’t come up that often. Third downs happen all the time, and the Eagles need to figure out the short-yardage stuff, if it still matters.