Eagles 15, Ravens 10
Every chance he gets, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens seems determined to remind the Baltimore Ravens of what they missed. Owens scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in the Eagles' 15-10 victory over the Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field, and then celebrated with a dance -- the very dance that has become a trademark of Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis.
The Eagles are 7-0 for the first time in franchise history and, with Pittsburgh's 34-20 victory over New England, are the only undefeated team in the NFL. Baltimore fell to 4-3 and dropped to two games behind Pittsburgh (6-1) in the AFC North.
This game was filled with intriguing subplots, and perhaps it was only fitting that it was played on Halloween. That gave some Philadelphia fans an excuse to dress up; scattered throughout the crowd of 67,715 were fans wearing orange prison jumpsuits with "J. Lewis" written across the back, a reference to Jamal Lewis, the Ravens' all-pro running back who pleaded guilty earlier this month to using a cell phone to facilitate a drug transaction. Lewis was not at the game, as he was serving the second half of a two-game NFL suspension for violating the league's drug policy.
The juiciest story line involved the animosity between the Ravens and Owens, who spurned an offseason trade to Baltimore in favor of joining the Eagles. Ray Lewis -- booed during pregame introductions -- and Owens had sniped at one another through the media during the summer.
Both players tried to play down the feud during the week (Owens instead took shots at Baltimore General Manager Ozzie Newsome), and they rarely crossed paths during the game, though Lewis did bring Owens down following a seven-yard catch across the middle in the third quarter.
But Owens made the key play of the game. On third and 10 from the Baltimore 11, Donovan McNabb dumped a short pass to Owens, who slipped by cornerback Gary Baxter and broke Ed Reed's arm tackle before darting into the end zone. Up to that point, the Eagles had converted only one of eight third-down opportunities. Once in the end zone, Owens danced.
Baltimore Coach Brian Billick claimed that he did not see Owens's dance, as did several Ravens. Cornerback Deion Sanders -- no stranger to end-zone celebrations -- defended Owens (eight catches for 101 yards).
"If you don't want to see him dance, don't let him score. That's it," Sanders said. "Don't make a big deal out of it. He made a crucial play in a huge game. What do you think he's going to do? Flip the ball back to the referee and run off the field? Please."
Said Lewis: "If you're going to play a football game, play a football game. Don't be a coward and wait until you make one play and do something. Just play football. . . . What's flattering is that he has me on his mind when he's at home. If there's anything more flattering -- I thought women would do that, but to have a man do that, something's wrong with that."
The Ravens had viewed this as one of the defining games of their season, their first test against a truly elite team. Baltimore's defense, in particular, was eager to face one of the NFL's most potent offenses. The Ravens held Philadelphia to a season-low 15 points, well below its average of 28.5.
The Eagles drove inside the Ravens 6-yard line on two occasions and came away with only three points. Philadelphia had a first and goal from the Baltimore 4 early in the first quarter following a pass interference call on cornerback Chris McAlister, but the Eagles managed to gain only one yard and were forced to settle for a 20-yard field goal from David Akers. McNabb ran on a first and goal from the 5 early in the second quarter, but linebacker Ed Hartwell caught him at the 1 and forced a fumble that safety Will Demps recovered.
"You want to play good defense and hopefully keep them from making it a high-scoring game, which is their M.O.," Billick said.
The Ravens' offense -- which ranked next to last in the league entering the game -- was missing three huge pieces: Jamal Lewis, left tackle Jonathan Ogden, and tight end Todd Heap, all Pro Bowlers. Yet Baltimore amassed 327 yards of total offense, its second-highest output of the season, and out-gained the Eagles (298 total yards), the league's fourth-ranked offense.
Kyle Boller, Baltimore's beleaguered second-year quarterback, had one of his best performances of the season. He completed 24 of 38 passes (a career-high 63.1 completion percentage) for a season-high 223 yards. He threw one interception (his sixth), but it came on a Hail Mary pass into the end zone as time expired in the first half.
Philadelphia led, 9-3, after Akers connected on his third field goal (this one a 43-yarder) early in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens started to put together what looked to be a promising drive; they picked up 20 yards on runs by Chester Taylor and Musa Smith and then gained 21 yards on a catch from Travis Taylor (six catches for 80 yards) to move to the Philadelphia 39. Then Taylor (78 yards on 18 carries) fumbled, and Philadelphia's Hugh Douglas recovered. The Eagles marched 65 yards and scored on Owens's catch for a 15-3 lead.
The Ravens answered Owens's score with their only touchdown drive. Boller hit tight end Daniel Wilcox with a seven-yard pass to cap a 72-yard drive; the big play in that series was a 52-yard catch by rookie wide receiver Clarence Moore.