Sunday Rewind: Eagles Nip Ravens Thanks to Vick, Goofy Baltimore Play Calls

Michael ErlerCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2012

Andy. Andy, Andy, Andy...
Andy. Andy, Andy, Andy...Rob Carr/Getty Images

Obviously, the score suggests this one could’ve gone either way, but unless you watched it, you have no idea how perilously close the Eagles came to losing.

First, they got the benefit of the doubt with an offensive pass interference call on Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones on a play where it looked like Jones had scored his second touchdown of the day to give Baltimore a 10-point lead with five minutes to go.

Next, they needed to win a review on a play where it was originally ruled that Michael Vick fumbled on 2nd-and-goal on the Eagles' game-winning drive, although the replacement zebras eventually got it right that he (barely) had his arm moving forward as he was being taken down by Haloti Ngata.

The game was a tour de force of awful coaching both ways. John Harbaugh only called 16 runs for Ray Rice, even though the Ravens' offensive line was gashing Philly’s smallish front plenty, and even more damning, on every 3rd-and-short the Ravens had (at least five), they passed, never converting a single one of them.

It was evident that Rice was getting frustrated by the play-calling—and the results—because he had a couple of cheap shots after the whistle and was involved in several skirmishes during the game.

Meanwhile, for the Eagles, they had more balance on offense than they typically do, but Andy Reid almost cost them the game by calling a pass play on that aforementioned Vick non-fumble when they were on the 1-yard line.

Reid also stupidly accepted a third-down holding penalty on the Ravens early in the fourth quarter when his defense had already stopped Baltimore well short of a first down and set to allow just a field goal. The penalty did not push the Ravens out of field-goal range and all it did was give Joe Flacco another chance to convert the first down, which he did by benefit of an illegal contact flag on Nnamdi Asomugha.

The Ravens still wound up having to take the field goal on that drive, but it was a dumb call by Reid.

It sounds weird to say in a game in which he had two interceptions and could’ve had four, but I thought Vick was pretty outstanding against Baltimore. He converted a number of 3rd-and-longs, repeatedly found tight end Brent Celek (8-of-157) in zone coverage and DeSean Jackson (7-of-114) in man, and he was just sharp all game.

Even more impressive was the Eagles' defense, which has allowed just 39 points (really 32 since Vick had a pick-six at Cleveland) through two games despite the offense turning it over nine times. Philly’s corner trio of Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and rookie Brandon Boykie was outstanding in shutting down Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith for Baltimore, and new middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans had a sack and an interception of Flacco.

The Eagles' first two picks of the draft, DT Fletcher Cox and OLB Mychal Kendricks, both look like they’re gonna be keepers. The former collapsed the pocket consistently and was prominently involved in the plays in which Rice didn’t run for big yardage, while the latter was terrific in coverage all game.

There was one negative for the Eagles, besides their four turnovers: They lost center Jason Kelce to an MCL injury, and he’ll be out at least six weeks and probably the season. Kelce is their most athletic lineman and a guy who’s really useful for the stretch plays they like to run with LeSean McCoy.

The Ravens will tell themselves they blew the game, but truthfully, they didn’t play well at all, as the Eagles out-gained them 486 yards to 325 and were much better on third down.

Baltimore’s defense seemed to have no idea who Celek was, and they had bad miscommunication between CB Cary Williams and Ed Reed on Jeremy Maclin’s touchdown, which got Philly’s comeback from a 17-7 halftime deficit started.

Offensively, the Ravens badly under-utilized Rice and couldn’t do much of anything else except for repeatedly looking for TE Dennis Pitta against Eagles safety Nate Allen. Thirty of Flacco’s 42 attempts were aimed for backs and tight ends.