Eagles fall to Ravens after furious second half rally
After trailing the entire game, much of the time by double digits, the Eagles found themselves within two yards of matching the Ravens on the scoreboard and very likely sending the game to overtime. The play call from coach Doug Pederson was a run-pass option between Carson Wentz and Boston Scott. The ensuing execution was a mess and both Eagles players were blown up in the backfield. The Ravens secured a 30-28 victory while the loss brings the Eagles’ season record to 1-4-1.
Offensive line struggles continue
The frontline of the Eagles once again failed to do their job. Wentz was under constant pressure as the Raven’s defensive strategy involved a tremendous amount of blitz calls, particularly in the first quarter. All told, the Eagles allowed six sacks with half of them coming at the hands of defensive end Calais Campbell.
There won’t be any miracle personnel change for the Eagles as it relates to their offensive line. As a result, the solution might be to get more creative with play calls and find ways to move the pocket for Carson Wentz in an attempt to alleviate some of the pressure.
Speaking of offensive creativity, this game did feature a few plays involving Jalen Hurts who rushed for 23 yards on two carries. Mixing in him as a dual-threat weapon for the Eagles is another option to combat impending pressure for opposing defenses.
Wentz the Fearless
Carson Wentz refused to give up during this game. He showed remarkable resilience and continued to fight, both after his team was shut out during the first half and when they were still down 24-6 heading into the fourth quarter. His final passing statistics, 21-40 for 213 yards and two touchdowns, only tell a fraction of the story.
Firstly, crucial drops were a huge reason the Birds’ offense was slow out of the gate. Wentz delivered a perfect deep ball to Tim Hightower on their first possession only to have the ball fall through his hands. Later in the first half, Wentz found Miles Sanders in the back of the endzone but the running back couldn’t make the play. Hightower redeemed himself by catching a similar deep strike in the third, but it would’ve been helpful to get some points on the board earlier.
Secondly, Wentz was once again dangerous with his legs. A huge momentum shift came for the Eagles when Wentz eluded several Baltimore defenders en route to a 40 yard scramble. Additionally, Wentz kept it himself and scored their final touchdown on a QB sneak.
This was Wentz’s first interception-free game of the season, which is a great sign. However, he still did commit a costly turnover by losing a fumble towards the end of the first quarter. The Ravens quickly took advantage of the mistake, pulling ahead 14-0 after a seven yard touchdown run by Gus Edwards. Wentz’s next quarterback duel will be against Daniel Jones of the New York Giants who has had immense trouble holding onto the football all season.
Fulgham keeps shining
Amid many disappointments for the Eagles, young wide receiver Travis Fulgham continues to play well and demonstrate big-play ability. He was once again the Eagles leading receiver, catching six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was truly a highlight as he was able to outleap a Baltimore defender for an 18 yard score on a pivotal fourth down.
His receiving presence was needed as veteran wideouts DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery remained sidelined with injuries that have kept them inactive much of the year.
Let’s talk about the 2 Point Conversion
Much was made about Pedersons’ decisions to opt for two point conversions rather than extra points during this game. The Birds attempted four two point conversions, achieving success on half of them during this contest. Much of the talk about this game will understandably concern the final failed conversion but the play was only a necessity in the first place because of Pederson’s past choices.
The most curious two point conversion attempt happened after the Eagles scored their first touchdown, bringing the game to 17-6, a deficit of 11. Safely cutting the score to 10, with just a touchdown and field goal needed to tie, seemed like the logical move. It didn’t happen and the conversion attempt ended in failure.
The brain trust of the Eagles may disagree as they went for two in a similar situation, down 11, earlier in the season as well. If the analytical data supports the decision to go for two, I’m not particularly inclined to argue against the math.
It is possible that the tie against the Cincinnati Bengals is on Pederson’s mind when he opts for a bold route like he did versus the Ravens. Either way, his decisions to go for two or not will surely be a talking point for the rest of the season.