Following a 30-10 loss to the New York Giants, some were writing off the Baltimore Ravens for playoff contention. The Ravens allowed 207 rushing yards to the Giants, the first time they have allowed over 200 since 1997.
If Baltimore even wanted to have a chance to win the division, they'd have to win today against the 5-4-1 Philadelphia Eagles. This game was shaping up to be a tough one, though; despite a very unsatisfying record, the Eagles have an incredibly dynamic offense.
They have Donovan McNabb, who might have the best arm for a QB. They have Brian Westbrook, the most talented all-purpose back. They have DeSean Jackson, an excellent wide receiver and kick returner. They also have one of the best run defenses in the National Football League.
The Ravens have offensive line injuries and some were wondering if Joe Flacco would fold after such a humiliating loss. The Eagles aren't coming off a gem, either. They had just tied the second worst team in the NFL, the Bengals. After the game, Donovan McNabb said he didn't know such a thing could happen.
Enough about the preview, let's get to the game!
It was shaping up to be a defensive battle, a true football fan's game. Before the game started, corner Asante Samuel said, "I've never seen Andy Reid so angry." It looked as if Andy Reid's Eagles responded to the anger early.
McNabb was 6-for-7 in the first quarter. It looked like a different McNabb, as he had usually struggled in the first quarter this year.
To start the second quarter, the Eagles were deep in Ravens territory—on the 32-yard line, to be exact. After an eight-yard completion and an incomplete pass, Donovan McNabb was hit by Jarret Johnson and coughed it up. The ball would be picked up by Johnson and taken all the way to the Eagles 48-yard line.
The Ravens couldn't take advantage, though. In fact, they only went eight yards, forcing a punt.
After more lackluster drives by both teams, the Ravens finally put some points on the board.
After a Saverio Rocca punt, Yamon Figurs returned it 18 yards to the Philadelphia 38. On top of that, Philly committed a ten-yard penalty. This time, the Ravens responded. They punched the ball to the Eagles 26, where Matt Stover booted a 43-yard field goal, making it 3-0 with 3:00 left in the second quarter.
On the next play, future Hall of Fame quarterback Donovan McNabb threw an interception to Ed Reed, McNabb's second of the game. Not only did he pick the pass off, Reed returned it 43 yards to the Eagles six-yard line. The drive wasn't incredible, but the Ravens got it done. It ended with a one-yard touchdown strike to Dan Wilcox.
The Eagles responded quickly. With 1:38 left, the Ravens were feeling good, enjoying a 10-0 lead. Five seconds later, the Eagles cut the lead to 10-7 on a Quintin Demps 100-yard kick return touchdown. The good news: The Ravens would have a chance to extend the lead. In short, the drive ended with a 53-yard missed field goal by Steven Hauscka.
Going into the locker room at halftime, it was an interesting 10-7 Ravens lead, and the winner of the game was still very much up in the air.
In the third quarter the only points were scored on a blocked punt by the Ravens' undrafted linebacker, Jameel McClain.
So it was 12-7 going into the fourth quarter. All the Ravens had to do was hold on. But the real headline: Donovan McNabb had been benched for Kevin Kolb. If you remember him, Kolb was drafted by Philly in 2007 in the second round. As most people do, he got booed by Philly fans mercilessly.
Kolb was just one-for-seven for seven yards in the third quarter with an interception to Samari Rolle, his third pick of the season. The Ravens ended the quarter driving. They started on their own 49-yard line and ended the quarter on Philadelphia's 25-yard line, mostly due to a 23-yard catch by Mark Clayton. The drive ended with a 42-yard field goal by Matt Stover to make it 15-7.
That is when the game changed for the better—well, at least for Baltimore.
After a run by Ray Rice for no gain and a seven-yard reception by Todd Heap, the Ravens decided to go deep. Joe Flacco was very bad in the first half, passing very inaccurately, and the Ravens played it conservative. He showed accuracy and his usual arm strength in the second half. On the next play, Flacco hit Mark Clayton for a 53-yard touchdown and that looked to be the nail in the coffin, as it was now 22-7.
The Eagles still had a shot, though. With a touchdown, it would be 22-14, and there was still plenty of time. That looked to be on the Eagles minds, as they drove all the way to the Ravens half-yard line. They decided to throw and Ed Reed proved their foolishness. He caught an interception in the end zone and returned it 108 yards for a touchdown, an NFL record.
Now it was over.
At 29-7 with 7:24 left, just for laughs, Le'Ron McClain decided to cap off a great day with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Ravens have scored 27 points in five of their past six games, a franchise record.
Joe Flacco: 12-for-26, 183 yards, 2 TD
Kevin Kolb: 10-for-23, 73 yards, 2 INT
Le'Ron McClain: 18 carries, 88 yards, 1 TD
Brian Westbrook: 14 carries, 39 yards
Mark Clayton: 2 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD
DeSean Jackson: 5 catches, 47 yards