Looking back over the Eagles' thrilling 24-23 win over the Ravens:
It took until the ninth game last season before an Eagles linebacker recorded a sack. DeMeco Ryans needed all of two games to notch his first sack of the season. Linebackers accounted for only three of the Eagles’ 50 sacks last season. The low number had something to do with the defense dialing up less blitzes. But with the way Ryans and rookie Mychal Kendricks have covered the field in the first two games, it’s safe to assume the linebackers will increase that number this season. Ryans and Kendricks played all 70 snaps on defense. Andy Reid said the Eagles may still rotate linebackers, but why would he want to take these two guys off the field?
ON SECOND THOUGHT
When Bryce Brown couldn’t hold onto a handoff and fumbled in the second quarter, many pointed the finger at the rookie running back. But Michael Vick was just as guilty. The Eagles quarterback didn’t get the ball into Brown’s gut and the exchange was botched. Vick was charged with the fumble in the official stat sheet. Eagles coaches felt both players were equally at fault.
REWIND THE TAPE
Ultimately, it did not cost the Eagles, but clock mismanagement – along with some poor decision-making on special teams – led to the Ravens’ field goal before the half. Rookie Damaris Johnson should not have fielded a punt inside the 5-yard line with around a minute left in the game. But the Eagles still could have essentially run down the clock on their next four plays.
On first down at the 6, LeSean McCoy ran for three yards and the clock continued to run. On second down, the Eagles had 13 seconds left on the play clock and could have drained the regular clock down to 19 seconds. Instead they snapped the ball with 31 seconds left and McCoy ran for three yards. Baltimore then burned their second timeout with 25 seconds to go. On third down, McCoy was dropped for a 2-yard loss and the Ravens called for their final timeout with 18 seconds left.
If the Eagles had managed their time correctly, there would have been only five seconds remaining on fourth down and a punt would have essentially taken the teams to the half. Instead, the Ravens got the ball back with nine seconds left. And after a pass for no gain, kicker Justin Tucker nailed a 56-yard field goal to give Baltimore a 17-7 lead at the half.
THIS AND THAT
-- On Ray Rice’s 43-yard run in the second quarter, safety Nate Allen appeared to over-pursue on the play, but Ryans took the blame after the game. On the replay, the linebacker got caught up inside and the Ravens running back burst through a giant hole in between Allen and Ryans.
-- On Joe Flacco’s 21-yard pass to receiver Jacoby Jones, both Ryans and Kendricks blitzed. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was in single coverage and safety Kurt Coleman could not help because he started the play on the far numbers. Asomugha was beat, but Flacco threw a perfect pass.
-- Vick’s 28-yard completion to Brent Celek in the second quarter was a beauty. Brown missed his block, but Vick calmly avoided the pressure by stepping up in the pocket and hit the tight end between the numbers.
-- In Baltimore, they’re claiming that the pass interference call on Jones that negated a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter was a bogus call. They may have a case. Jones did use his hands to separate from Asomugha. But the cornerback, who trailed the receiver, was also making contact. After the play, the officials spotted the ball on the 40, thinking that it was a 15-yard penalty. Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who could be see screaming, “That’s not right,” had to alert the referees that this wasn’t college football.
-- The official stat sheet credited the Ravens with three quarterback hits, but Vick took many more shots behind the line of scrimmage than that. Last week, the Browns had 11 hits, but some had him taking contact 19 times. On Sunday, the number was more like 12, by this count. Reid was asked if he just accepts the hits because that’s just the way Vick plays.
“I want Michael to be Michael,” Reid said. “He’s 32 years old. … I just want him to keep competing and playing and take what’s there.”
Still, it's hard to see Vick avoiding injury if he continues to take this kind of abuse.