Ravens Defense Dominates Eagles

The Baltimore Ravens defense shut out the high scoring Philadelphia Eagles offense and came away with a 36-7 Baltimore Beatdown yesterday at M&T Bank Stadium. The Eagles, who had been averaging over 26 points per game, scored their only points on a 100 yard kickoff return in the second quarter. The Ravens defense finished their impressive shutout with four interceptions and one fumble recovery, including Ed Reed's NFL Record 108 yard interception return for a TD in the fourth quarter with the Eagles sitting on the Ravens one yard line. The Eagles finished with 206 total yards, many of them on the drive that culminated in Reed's pick six.

Eagles QB Donovan McNabb finished 8-18 for 59 yards, one fumble and two interceptions and a QB rating of 13.2 (not a typo!). He was pulled for the second half in favor of Kevin Kolb, who didn't fare any better, going 10-23 for 73 yards and two interceptions. Brian Westbrook played despite his injuries, and had only 39 yards on 14 carries, good for less than 3 yards/carry. The Eagles only kept it from a total shutout by virtue of the kickoff return that my daughter's boyfriend called just before kickoff as we sat in the stands yesterday at the stadium. He won't be coming to games with us any more.

While the Ravens offense looked less than acceptable in the first half, give the Eagles defense some due credit. They are a top ten defense and stifled us for the entire first half and most of the second as well. The 53 yard TD pass from Joe Flacco to Mark Clayton was a great timing pattern and missed coverage by the Eagles. Flacco finished 12-26 for 183 yards and two TD's. More importantly was that he went another game without throwing an interception, which has been a trend in the Ravens past five victories. Le'Ron McClain ran for 88 yards but 28 of them came in the last couple of minutes of the game, when the outcome was no longer in doubt. Willis McGahee was held to eight yards on seven carries and Ray Rice had seven yards on eight carries. The scoring chances either came by way of the pick six or the great field position the defense gave to the offense by way of their five takeaways.

Don't read anything negative into this week's game, on offense or even defense. To say the Eagles have been playing poorly the past couple of weeks is an understatement. Managing a total of 20 points in visits to Cincinnati and Baltimore is certainly not indicative of a playoff contender, of which it appears the Eagles are not. However, holding them scoreless on offense is still a tough task in the NFL. The offense had its issues but never gave up and finally found their breaking point and made the big play. That is the mark of a good team. Finding a way to win is the difference between the pretenders and contenders in the NFL. The Ravens are definitely in the contenders group at this point and should have the ability to stay as one for the rest of the season.

Next up for the Ravens is a visit to Cincinnati and a rematch of the Ravens opening day 17-10 victory. Baltimore better not take this game lightly, as we all saw what can happen in this crazy league as the horrible Oakland Raiders went into Denver and blew out the AFC West leaders. Thus, if the Ravens don't show up, their playoff chances could be dealt a severe blow. However, if they do continue their winning ways and take care of business in Cincy, then they come up for a tough two game stretch that will define their season, with games against their hated neighbor, the Washington Redskins, and their hated division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. A sweep of those two will be a great Christmas present to the fans and set us up for a great finish to what has become a wonderfully surprising and successful 2008 season.

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