Eagles 20, Ravens 14
It's too bad Terrell Owens did not play in the Philadelphia Eagles' 20-14 preseason win over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night; the antics of the controversial wide receiver -- recently returned from a one-week suspension but out because of an injured groin -- would have drawn attention from a poor performance by the Ravens.
Instead, there was nothing to overshadow black marks on all three units for Baltimore in their home debut: quarterback Kyle Boller struggled, the defense gave up a 51-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown by Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, and Philadelphia's Dexter Wynn returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown.
Baltimore's starters were outscored 17-7 in the first half, a performance that Coach Brian Billick described as terrible.
"I just sensed that we didn't have that same intensity that it takes to win," said Billick, whose team lost in Atlanta, 16-3, last week. "That concerns me a little bit because, compared to last week, where there certainly were errors, I thought we played with a great deal of intensity and passion. I don't know that we did tonight."
Baltimore's offense was again missing two of its focal points -- running back Jamal Lewis (ankle) and tight end Todd Heap (ankle and shoulder) -- as well as guard Edwin Mulitalo (personal reasons) and fullback Alan Ricard (calf). But those absences didn't excuse Boller's struggles.
The third-year starter threw two interceptions, was sacked twice and fumbled once in two quarters of play. Two of Boller's turnovers were the result of Philadelphia pressure: Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter got in Boller's face and caused his pass to fall well short of Clarence Moore and into the arms of safety Brian Dawkins instead; and safety Michael Lewis flew in untouched to poke the ball away from Boller (who has a history of fumbling) before wrapping him up for a sack.
But the first interception -- which came on the opening drive -- was just a poor throw by Boller; the ball sailed past tight end Daniel Wilcox and to Lewis.
Boller did direct the Ravens to their first offensive touchdown of the preseason -- a five-yard pass to Wilcox with 1 minute 55 seconds left in the first half -- but by that point, the Eagles' starters were resting on the sideline. He completed 10 of 15 passes for 88 yards.
"It's tough. It's one of those things where after the second [interception], it's like man, it can't be any worse than this," said Boller, who is 15 of 24 for 145 yards with three interceptions in the preseason. "You've got to be confident at this position; you can never doubt yourself. You can learn from your mistakes, but if you go out next week and be hesitant and don't make throws because you don't want to throw an interception -- you can't play it that way at this position."
Reserve quarterback Anthony Wright was 14 of 23 for 140 yards, and led the Ravens on a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive that was capped by a two-yard touchdown run from Tellis Redmon early in the fourth quarter. Wright nearly led the Ravens to a last-minute score, but threw four incomplete passes into the end zone from the Eagles 14-yard line.
Even Baltimore's defense struggled in the first half, despite an interception by cornerback Samari Rolle and three sacks. Philadelphia amassed 169 yards of total offense in the first half, and had two big plays on their scoring drive.
With the Eagles facing a third and three from their own 49, the Ravens blitzed and quarterback Donovan McNabb dumped the ball to a wide-open Westbrook on the right side. The former DeMatha standout slipped away from safety Chad Williams and linebacker Ray Lewis and darted 51 yards for the score, which gave Philadelphia a 14-0 lead.
"We all got our juices flowing and we just miscommunicated to each other," safety Ed Reed said. "We still could've made the tackle; we missed the tackle. We're better tacklers than that. We do it consistently, we do it enough to know that we're a better tackling team."
Baltimore had one touchdown called back. With four seconds left in the first half, Zach Norton blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt from Jimmy Kibble, and Reed scooped up the ball. He ran toward the right side and then tried to lateral the ball to cornerback Chris McAlister, who took it the remaining 60 yards for an apparent touchdown.
But the play was reviewed, and the score was disallowed because the officials determined that the exchange was an illegal forward pass. The fans booed, and Billick just glared.
"I don't know of a football field -- pup, community, Pop Warner, junior high, high school or college -- that that's not a touchdown," Billick said. "But evidently not in the NFL."
Ravens Notes: Rolle left the game after suffering a mild right knee sprain on the first play of the second quarter. . . . Linebacker Adalius Thomas, who practiced this week after hyperextending his knee on Aug. 9, did not play. Linebacker Peter Boulware, who re-signed with the team on Thursday, also did not play. . . . The announced crowd of 70,303 was the largest in M&T Bank Stadium history, thanks in part to additional seating installed during the offseason. . . . Billick shaved off the full beard that attracted so much attention during training camp.