Top takeaways from Ravens decisive win over Eagles: Defensive Standouts
The Baltimore Ravens improved their record to 5-1 and won their third straight game since suffering their first loss of the season at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs with a decisive 30-28 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on the road in Week Six.
Before the Ravens head into the bye week, here are some of the top takeaways that I observed from their fifth win of the season:
The Ravens defense played a huge part in building a 17-0 lead at halftime. They also played a significant role in almost letting the Eagles come all the way back to tie the game and force overtime.
But in the end, they thwarted Philadelphia’s two-point conversion that would’ve knotted the game up at 30-30 thanks to some excellent teamwork from linebackers L.J. Fort and Matthew Judon who stopped Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz shy of the goal line.
Fort and Judon made the most important defensive play of the game but there were a handful of Ravens defenders that were making impactful plays all game long. Here are the top four I observed to name a few.
DE Calais Campbell
The five-time Pro Bowl defensive end has been a smashing success and immediate difference-maker in his first six games as a Raven. On Sunday against the Eagles, Baltimore’s prized offseason acquisition had his best game of the season thus far.
Campbell set the tone of the Ravens’ dominant first half on defense by sacking Wentz on the very first play from scrimmage of the game. He did not let up from there and led the charge for the suddenly sizzling pass rush that relentlessly pressured Philadelphia’s star signal-caller from start to finish.
The 13-year veteran defender accounted for half of the team’s six sacks and finished with five total tackles including four for loss and four quarterback hits.
“My mindset every time is, ‘Alright, beat the guy in front of me, get to the quarterback and get a sack,'” Campbell said. ” I know with the DBs that we have, that’s a task where if we just keep rushing (and) stay alive, then good things are going to happen. So, I have to tip my hat off to the secondary. As a D-lineman, you love playing with a secondary like this one.”
S DeShon Elliott
The third-year safety makes a play or two or even more that makes people sitting at home watching or in the stadium watching the games unfold live want to say, “Earl Thomas who?” seemingly every week.
Elliott routinely displays the playmaking and difference-making ability that the Ravens have always seen in him and were confident would be on full display in a starting role following the release of seven-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer midway through training camp.
In Week Six against the Eagles, he was making the plays all over the field at every level. In the first quarter, he helped wrap up Wentz for a minimal gain on a quarterback keeper and then proceeded to pry the ball out of his grasp for a forced fumble that the Ravens offense turned into a touchdown five plays later on a short scoring drive.
That wasn’t his only time separating the ball from an Eagles’ skill position player in that game. In the third quarter when running back Miles Sanders erupted past the second and third level and seemed off to the races for a long touchdown run but Elliott refused to give up on the play.
Not only did he catch Sanders and bring him down short of the goal line, but he also dislodged the ball from his grasp for his second forced fumble of the game. Unfortunately, Eagles wide receiver JJ Arcega Whiteside recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a score.
However, it do show Elliott’s resiliency, relentless pursuit, tenacity as well as his ability to create turnovers at a high rate. Ravens fans and members of the organization will appreciate the nonstop motor by Elliott when it seemed the likelihood of him making a play was slim after not seeing the same willingness to not give up on a play by his predecessor.
Last season, Thomas came under some criticism for pulling up on a long touchdown run that Browns’ running back Nick Chubb broke off in the Ravens 40-25 loss in Week Four before they went on their 12-game winning streak.
Elliott finished the game with three total tackles, a pass deflection, and almost came up with his first career interception that would’ve ended an Eagles’ scoring drive in the fourth quarter, but the call was reversed.
“Last night, I watched like an hour-and-a-half of just Marlon tape from the last two years – trying to see how he was getting the ball out, and it showed today,” Elliott said. “But I also had a couple of mistakes. I dropped an interception that I should have caught (that) probably would have sealed the game. But I’m growing, I’m getting better.”
OLB Pernell McPhee
The 10-year veteran edge defender has had his best to games since rejoining the team last offseason in the Ravens last two games.
McPhee looked like he tapped into the fountain of youth for the second week in the row against the Eagles with the way he was stopping the run and generating pressure on Wentz off the edge and up the middles.
He recorded two solo tackles including one for loss, his second sack of the season, and in consecutive games and tied for the second-most quarterback hits behind Campbell with three.
If McPhee keeps looking like his vintage self before he left Baltimore for greener monetary pastures following the 2014 season, the Ravens might sign him to an inexpensive extension before the year is out.
CB Marlon Humphrey
Outside of giving up a long reception late when the defense as a whole was giving up big plays, the Ravens First-Team All-Pro cornerback was stellar once again as he continues to show just why he is worth every penny of his lucrative extension he signed a few weeks ago.
He led the team in tackles with eight solos including one for a loss, recorded his second full sack of the season on a blitz off the edge, deflected a pass, and forced his seemingly weekly fumble via his signature punch out that, fortunately for the Eagles, bounced out of bounds before the Ravens could recover it in the field of play.
Humphrey has played like the best corner in the entire league so far this season and should not only be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year, but he is the clear front runner through the first six games.
DE Jihad Ward
The six-year veteran had an undisciplined roughing the passer penalty in the fourth quarter that extended an Eagles’ drive in the fourth quarter that would’ve ended in a field goal but resulted in a touchdown two plays later.
That one gaffe overshadowed what was an otherwise impressive outing for the defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid. He was a key piece in the defensive line rotation and in the pressure packages that relentlessly harassed Wentz all game long.
He recorded his first sack of the season, two total tackles including one for a loss, and registered a quarterback hit for the second time in the last two games.