In Philadelphia, a strong effort from a team can make up for an undesirable result. Today, the Eagles, though widely outclassed in terms of talent by the Baltimore Ravens, fought hard through all four quarters in today’s 27-26 loss.
Down by 10 in the fourth quarter with the Ravens threatening to deliver a knockout punch, Jordan Hicks intercepted a pass from Joe Flacco and returned it 38 yards to start the rally. The Eagles’ offense converted the opportunity into three points. The defense pitched a strong three-and-out after the kickoff, giving Carson Wentz and the offense one last chance to tie the game.
Wentz, who struggled early in the game, did well on the team’s final possession, hooking with Zach Ertz on a key completion deep in Baltimore territory, and several plays later made a great move to run in for the touchdown. The Eagles did fail on the two-point conversion, but it was great to see Wentz succeed in guiding a come-from-behind effort on the road against one of the league’s tougher defenses.
- Ryan Mathews led the offense with 128 yards on 20 carries, scoring a touchdown and a two-point conversion. It was incredible that Mathews and the Eagles’ running game was able to achieve such great success against the league’s top running defense, given the fact that passing attack was a non-factor for most of the day. The Ravens knew Mathews was coming, and was simply unable to stop him.
- Mathews was able to attain his success thanks in part to great play in the running game from the offensive line. The line got a boost from Brandon Brooks being able to suit up this week at right guard, and also got a solid effort from rookie Isaac Seumalo, who drew the start at right tackle and performed very well.
- Kenjon Barner left the game with an injury, creating opportunity for rookie Byron Marshall, who made his NFL debut after spending most of the season on the practice squad. Marshall made the most of his opportunity, picking up some key first downs with 22 yards on nine carries. He also threw some nice blocks in pass protection. He’ll be an interesting guy to watch over the final two games of the season.
- Despite making a handful of big plays in the previous two games, Paul Turner was made inactive today, in favor of the inept likes of Nelson Agholor and Bryce Treggs, who continue to underwhelm.
- Agholor just has no football IQ. On the jet sweep called for him on a fourth down in the second half, he’s got to be aware of where his feet are in relation to the sideline. His carelessness caused him to go out well short of the first down.
- Zach Ertz continues to be Mr. Garbage Time/December, saving his best efforts for when the Eagles have been eliminated from contention. Ertz hauled in six passes for 80 yards, including a beautiful reception late in the fourth quarter to set up the team’s final score.
- The Eagles managed three sacks in the game, coming from Fletcher Cox, Nigel Bradham, and one more split between Beau Allen and Brandon Graham.
- Bradham also forced a fumble on his sack, which the offense was able to cash in for a score.
- Someone needs to get with Jalen Mills and tell him drop the whole finger-wagging thing. He hasn’t played anywhere near well enough to be using any kind of taunt, and he just looks all the more foolish when he does it and then gets flagged for a penalty.
- Mills also was partially responsible for a Steve Smith burning the defense for a late touchdown with less than 20 seconds left in the first half.
- Jaylen Watkins was also guilty on the same play. Watkins has been killing the Eagles for weeks now, at this point I’d rather see them give opportunity to Chris Maragos.
Considering what the Eagles were up against, there isn’t really much I have to complain about from this game.
It was a good effort on the road from an overmatched young team. As long as the arrow continues to point up over the next two games, that’s all Eagles fans can hope for as another season winds down.
Follow Denny Basens on Twitter, @DennyBasens