Eagles 26, Ravens 17
Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The celebration following Terrell Owens's first touchdown as a Philadelphia Eagle was rather tame for the famously flashy wide receiver: He merely spun the ball on the ground with a flick of his wrist. What he did before that was the lasting image of the Eagles' 26-17 preseason victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Friday night, and the one that will stay with the Ravens until the teams meet again -- for real -- on Oct. 31.
The player who spurned the Ravens in the offseason and then feuded with Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis hauled in a pass behind the Baltimore defense and outran everyone for an 81-yard score on the Eagles' first play from scrimmage.
"That's what they came to see," Owens said of the 67,218 who filled Lincoln Financial Field. "It was definitely a statement. That's what they brought me here to do; that's what I'm going to do."
There was some bad news for the Eagles (1-1), who lost another player to a potential season-ending injury. Running back Correll Buckhalter, who missed the 2002 season with a knee injury, went down on his very first carry of the game with a torn patella tendon. Earlier in the week, starting defensive end N.D. Kalu blew out his anterior cruciate ligament.
The Ravens (1-1) had wanted the excitement and big-play ability of Owens for themselves, and they thought they had acquired the four-time Pro Bowl player from San Francisco in a trade during the offseason. The popular but polarizing wide receiver, however, refused to report to Baltimore, and the trade was eventually nullified.
Owens wound up in Philadelphia; the Ravens were left with some bruised feelings. Lewis and Owens traded insults during the offseason and the early part of training camp, but both players said that's behind them now.
"As far as Ray, we're good friends," Owens said. "We talk between plays. I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me back. It's all blown out of proportion by what the media is trying to say."
Owens's only catch of the game was that first one. Quarterback Donovan McNabb found Owens on the right side; Owens was a step ahead of cornerback Gary Baxter, and he pulled in the pass around the Baltimore 47.
"It was my fault. I take the total blame for it," Baxter said. "After all the hype and all the stuff that's going one with T.O. and Baltimore and the Eagles and the stuff like that, they came out and went up top on that first play."
Owens said that one of the reasons he wanted to go to Philadelphia instead of Baltimore was because of the Ravens' quarterback situation, a veiled shot at second-year quarterback Kyle Boller.
Boller was uneven against the Eagles. He looked smooth one moment -- like when he rolled left and threw across his body to Travis Taylor for a 38-yard completion -- and shaky at other times -- like when he badly underthrew a pass that was easily intercepted by linebacker Ike Reese.
Boller played the entire first half and completed 10 of 20 passes for 97 yards. Only one of his seven series against the Eagles resulted in points: a 36-yard field goal from Matt Stover midway through the second quarter. He has played 10 series in the preseason and has led the Ravens to two scores.
"I think it's going to be a great tape to watch," Boller said. "We did some really good things, but a couple of plays, I can't wait to see on film. . . . But you know, that's what's great about these games, you can learn, and it doesn't really cost you."
It wasn't a very good night for the offense in general. The starting offense converted 5 of 10 third downs, but three of those conversions came on a drive in the final 90 seconds of the first half. Kordell Stewart, who took over for Boller at the start of the second half, threw two interceptions in Ravens territory, one to former Redskins linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and one to defensive tackle Jon Bradley.
Jamal Lewis, the NFL's leading rusher in 2003, had eight carries for 39 yards in one quarter. Musa Smith was effective as Lewis's primary backup, with 80 yards on 14 carries.
The Ravens gave up three big plays: Owens's touchdown, a 62-yard catch by Freddie Mitchell that helped set up a 27-yard field goal by Tim Duncan, and an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by J.R. Reed.
"It's about big plays," Baltimore Coach Brian Billick said. "They got the two big pass plays and the kickoff return. We got the big one with Ed Reed. Big plays can win for you. They can also beat you."
Staff writer Mark Maske contributed to this report.