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A bad tempered affair at Lincoln Financial Field between the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens ended in a hard fought 24-23 victory for the home side. An explosive passing game from the Eagles was too much for the Baltimore defense to contain, as their offense failed to keep up their form from their Week 1 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Given Michael Vick’s poor performance the previous week against the Cleveland Browns, most people were expecting LeSean McCoy to be used extensively on Philadelphia’s opening drive. Head Coach Andy Reid had different plans, however, and Vick looked in tremendous form early on, finding receivers in space and marching the Eagles down the field. He finally came undone when he had to escape the pocket due to pressure and fired a pass into the hands of safety Bernard Pollard in the end zone.
The Eagles were able to open the scoring shortly after, when Trent Cole stripped the ball from Joe Flacco on the quarterbacks own 15-yard line and regained possession for Philadelphia. This time the Eagles decided to run the football and McCoy went over untouched from one yard out.
Baltimore hit back quickly though, as their new no-huddle offense had the Philadelphia defense on the back foot, with the Eagles unable to substitute their defensive personnel as much as they would like. The drive culminated in a rare rushing touchdown for fullback Vonta Leach after some impressive blocking from his offensive line.
The Ravens took the lead early in the second quarter following another effective drive involving large doses of running back Ray Rice, and Flacco found Jacoby Jones, who ran an excellent route to beat cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha for a 21-yard pass. Rookie kicker Justin Tucker later extended the Baltimore’s lead, knocking over a kick from 56 yards, which ties him for a franchise record as well as bettering any successful kick he made in College Football, leaving the score at 17-7 to Baltimore at the half.
The third quarter saw a Vick-inspired comeback for the Eagles, as Philadelphia quickly leveled the score at 17-17. Jeremy Maclin was found by Vick in the end zone after the quarterback rolled out of the pocket and showed great composure to still hit the waiting Maclin, and a field goal shortly after tied the game.
The Ravens offense struggled consistently throughout the third and fourth quarters, but two further field goals from Tucker put Baltimore back into the lead as time began to become an issue in the game.
Almost in identical fashion to his performance last week at Cleveland, Vick once again led his team downfield with just under two minutes left in the game, rushed for a 1-yard touchdown himself and give Philadelphia a lead that they would not surrender on Baltimore’s final drive of the game.
It was a game of two halves from the Baltimore offense, who looked in great shape during the first half in their no-huddle offense, but were poor in the second half, failing to utilize their fast paced offense. Flacco’s development towards becoming an elite quarterback certainly took a step backwards in the second half, and the Ravens had to rely on Rice to consistently earn them yards in both the rushing and passing games.
Philadelphia showed flashes of brilliance in the passing game, but Reid will be worried with the amount of turnovers they have committed in their opening two games. A very banged up offensive line will also be a worry as he hopes to hear good news on injuries to both King Dunlap and Jason Kelce.
Baltimore will now face the prospect of avenging their AFC Championship loss to the New England Patriots next week, whilst the Eagles will make the long trip to Arizona to play the Cardinals.
Image Courtesy of Philadelphia Eagles