Ravens survive sloppy second half to beat Eagles 30-28
The Baltimore Ravens will be heading into their rescheduled bye week 5-1 and on a high note after they earned their third straight victory and fifth of the season by coming away with a decisive 30-28 win on the road over the Philadelphia Eagles.
After the Ravens led 17-0 at halftime and seemed to be cruising to another win over a lesser foe, the ‘Battle of the Birds’ came down to wire.
Instead of slamming the door shut on the Eagles in their own stadium, the Ravens let them hang around by committing several heinous penalties and undisciplined plays that allowed them to make it go from a potential blowout to a last-minute thriller.
It took a perfectly read and brilliantly executed stop by outside linebacker Matthew Judon and inside linebacker L.J. Fort on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz to thwart a two-point conversion attempt following a touchdown at the two-minute mark that likely would’ve sent the game into overtime. Both players gave the other credit for coming up with the clutch stop.
“I was thinking ‘read zone,’ because they had run it multiple times earlier,” Fort said. “Me and Judon were able to make the stop. You always want to make big plays, especially coming from a team that let you go. So, that was a great feeling, and to be able to get the closer was the cherry on top.”
“L.J. made a great play,” Judon said. “I was just there to assist on the tackle, he initiated contact. We knew they were going to try to run it in. They’d been running it well, so we had to come up with a big stop right there.”
The Ravens owned the first half on both sides of the ball for the most part but especially on defense when they appeared destined to achieve their first shutout of the season that narrowly escaped them last week when the Cincinnati Bengals broke the unspoken rule and decided to settle for a late field goal to save face.
Baltimore fired out to an early lead after they marched 47 yards in nine on their first offensive drive of the game and capped off the well-balanced drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass from reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson to premier blocking tight end Nick Boyle to go up 7-0.
The Ravens defense got after Wentz early and often in just about every way imaginable. They were able to generate pressure, bring him down for sacks, and rack up quarterback hits by using blitzes, stunts, twists, and even by rushing just four.
They brought him down six times for a sack, just one shy of the total times they corralled first overall pick Joe Burrow last week.
Veteran newcomer and prized offseason acquisition Calais Campbell had his best game as a Raven and was Wentz’s worst nightmare from start to finish.
He led the team with a whopping three sacks and added four quarterback hits and five total tackles including four a loss.
While the offense struggled to string together positive and scoring drives with any level of consistency all game long, it was a tale of two halves for the defense.
In the first half, they forced five punts via three-and-outs, a fumble, a turnover on downs, and yielded just 94 net yards to the Philadelphia. After halftime, they allowed the Eagles to spread their wings offensively and soar back from the brink of oblivion.
After playing lights out in the first 30 minutes of regulation, Defensive Coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale’s unit flipped the script in the final 30.
They were still effective in pressuring Wentz but allowed him to make big plays on both the ground and through the air and were flagged twice on plays that set up or extended scoring drives.
Many of the Eagles big and scoring plays came on instances where Ravens defenders were just out of position, blew an assignment, didn’t use the proper technique, or showed poor judgment.
Nevertheless, they made the game-winning play win it counted most and Jackson sealed the win with a 21 sprint that put him over the century mark rushing in a game for the first time this season picked up the final first down the Ravens needed to salt the game away on a pair of victory formation kneel-downs.
Expect a more detailed breakdown of what went wrong and what went right for the Ravens in this game as well as what they need to improve on heading into the bye week and ahead of their Week Eight AFC North showdown with the currently undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in my weekly ‘Top Takeaways’ series of articles.
Jackson finished 16-of-27 for 186 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He led the team in rushing and become their first 100 plus yard rusher in a game with 108 yards on nine carries including a 37-yard touchdown sprint up the middle on the Ravens second drive of the second half.
Second-year wide receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ led the team in receptions and receiving yards for the third week in the row and fifth time this season with four catches for 57 yards on six targets.
First Team All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey had another great game outside of giving up a long reception late. He led the team in tackles with eight including one for a loss, all of which were solo.
Humphrey also recorded his second full sack of the season on a blitz, deflected a pass, and forced what has become his weekly fumble via punch out that, fortunately for the Eagles, rolled out of bounds before a Baltimore defender could corral it in the field of play.
Third-year safety DeShon Elliott also has a strong day with three total tackles, two forced fumbles, a pass breakup, and almost corralled the first interception of his career in the regular season
Wentz finished 21-of-40 for 212 yards and a pair of touchdown passes and didn’t add to his league-leading interception total even though Elliott came dangerously close.
Despite being sacked six times and being stopped behind the line of scrimmage a handful of other times, he managed to record the second-most rushing yards on his team.
He finished with 49 on five carries and scored a one-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak that would’ve tied the game had he successfully converted the two-point conversion attempt. Most of his yards came on a late 40-yard rumble in that set the Eagles up for one of their two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Second-year running back Miles Sanders led Philadelphia in rushing with a game-high 118 yards on nine carries before he exited in the third quarter with an injury.
He produced the Eagles biggest play of the day when he ripped off a 74-yard run in the third quarter before getting ripped down and stripped of the ball shy of the goal line but luckily his teammate, wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, recovered the loose ball in the end zone for their first touchdown of the game.
Second-year wide receiver Travis Fulgham continued to prove that he’s not just another field good story and by leading the Eagles with six catches on 10 targets for 75 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown reception with both of Baltimore’s First-Team All-Pros draped over him in coverage.
On defense for Philadelphia, fourth-year linebacker Nathen Gerry led the team with eight total tackles and deflected a pass. Veteran edge rusher Brandon Graham led the team with two sacks, finished second in total tackles with six including two for a loss.