The Ravens came into Week 15 in control of their own destiny. Coming off a loss to the Patriots, the Ravens game against the Eagles became a must-win. But man, was it a nail biter.
Start of Game
The Ravens deferred after winning the coin flip, and following a Justin Tucker kickoff that was kneeled in the end zone for a touchback, QB Carson Wentz and the Eagles took the field. The Ravens defense quickly made their presence felt, even in the absence of Jimmy Smith. On the Eagles third play from scrimmage, Wentz looked over the middle for Trey Burton, but instead found his pass sail into the arms of LB Zach Orr. The NFL’s fourth leading tackler picked off the pass, his second of the year, giving the Ravens offense incredible starting field position. The interception gave the Ravens the NFL lead in turnovers, one year after turnovers were few and far between for the Ravens.
The Ravens offense would lean on Terrance West on its first drive, one week after barely using him at all. After a short carry on first down, West took a Flacco screen pass 17 yards downfield to the Eagles 35, and one play later ran off Rick Wagner for a 13 yard gain to the Eagles five yard line. On the next play, Flacco found Kamar Aiken just outside the hashes for a five yard touchdown pass.
After being nearly neutralized by the Patriots last week, the Ravens pass rush showed up in full force so far against the Eagles. On the Eagles second drive, Wentz saw pressure from all sides on nearly every play. On a third-and-10 from the Ravens 44 yard line, Eric Weddle came on a safety blitz, flushing Wentz out of the pocket. Elvis Dumervil would get to Wentz, forcing a fumble, the Ravens were not able to recover, but the large loss forced an Eagles punt.
Carson Wentz wants to be Allen Iverson so bad https://t.co/41et5bgZr8— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweetss) December 18, 2016
The Ravens would go three and out on their ensuing drive, punting out of their own end zone. A 22 yard punt return by Kenjon Barner would set the Eagles up on the Ravens half of the field. After allowing one first down, the defense settled down, and kept bringing the pressure. On a third-and-six from the Ravens 27 yard line, Terrell Suggs came off the edge, and almost got to Wentz. Wentz was able to get off a pass, but one that was completely uncatchable. Caleb Strugis would drill the ensuing 45 yard field goal
Chris Moore returned the ensuing kickoff, but only to the Ravens 12 yard line. Michael Campanaro returned the Eagles only punt in the game. The Ravens will be searching for who is best to fill Devin Hester’s role. Campanaro clearly does not have that job locked up.
Campanaro would provide help on the offensive side of the ball on the ensuing Ravens drive, something Hester could never do. Hester took an end around outside to the left sideline. Stiff arming defenders, the Wake Forest product forced his way to a 39 yard gain, the Ravens longest running play of the year.
The Ravens offense could not move the ball from there, as Flacco missed a wide open Steve Smith Sr on third down. As the rain began to fall and the wind began to roar, Justin Tucker came on to attempt a 53 yard field goal. Not surprisingly, Tucker drained it anyway, moving to 10 of 10 from 50+ yards on the year. His 10 made field goals from over 50 yards ties Tucker with Blair Walsh for the most made in the season.
The Ravens defensive front continued to cause massive issues for the Eagles, stopping Ryan Mathews for a two yard loss of first down, moving the Eagles back again after a Wentz fumble on a bad snap. On third down, Matt Judon and C.J. Mosley put pressure on Wentz, forced him outside the pocket, and forced a bad throw, forcing the Ravens first three-and-out of the game.
Start of Second Quarter
On the Ravens third play of the drive, Nigel Bradham strip sacked Flacco, and Fletcher Cox fell on the ball. The Eagles would start on the Ravens 4 yard line after a penalty, and Ryan Mathews punched it in on the first play, moving the Eagles to within one. RB Kenneth Dixon missed the block on Bradham, allowing him to get through to Flacco. The Eagles elected to go for two, and picked it up as Ryan Mathews jumped over the pile of linemen in the middle of the field.
Knowing they needed to regain the momentum, the Ravens offense came out looking to impose their will against the Eagles. The Ravens got themselves into two third down situations, and converted both. First, Flacco would Kamar Aiken over the middle, and on the second found Terrance West in the flat who ran it passed the first down marker. The Ravens quickly found themselves in another third down situation. Flacco throw a screen to Kyle Jusczyzk outside the numbers, but Jusczyzk was not able to convert. The Ravens, with the wind at his back, brought on Justin Tucker to attempt a 47 yard field goal. Tucker again, drained it.
Tucker just crushing field goals in the middle of a storm. #InTuckerWeTrust— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 18, 2016
Ravens 13 | Eagles 11
The Eagles would come out with a commitment to run the ball, something that surprisingly worked well against the Ravens top rush defense. Ryan Mathews and Kenjon Barner found holes in the Ravens front for the first time today. After Barner suffered an injury on a third down, the Eagles offense seemed to slow down. The Ravens forced a fourth down, but the Eagles went for it and converted, reinvigorating the Eagles offense. Using the run, the Eagles continued to burn time off the clock and pick up solid chunks of yardage on each play. But the Ravens defense would not break. Lawrence Guy provided pressure on a third-and-14 from the Ravens 16 yard line, forcing an incomplete pass. Strugis would hit the ensuing 34 yard field goal.
Chris Moore would provide a big return on the ensuing kickoff, but fumbles. Luckily the Ravens recovered, but Moore may have lost a shot to be the kick returner. Flacco and the Ravens would run the two minute drill in an attempt to get points quickly before the half. Flacco looked to Dennis Pitta and Kyle Jusczyzk over the middle. Once at the Eagles 34 yard line, Flacco looked deep down the right sideline to Steve Smith. Flacco threw an absolutely perfect pass, and led Smith right into the end zone for a touchdown. The catch gave the Ravens the lead, and moved Smith passed Colts legend Marvin Harrison on the all time receiving yard list. Smith now sits at seventh all time.
The score left just nine second on the clock. Wentz took a knee, and the Ravens went into the half with a lead.
End of First Half
First Half Notes
Offense - Despite a fumble which set up one of the Eagles two touchdowns, Flacco was fairly effective in the first half: 11/21, 123 yards, two touchdowns. Terrance West has totaled 36 rushing yards and 33 receiving yards in the game. But the most explosvie play of the day goes to Michael Campanaro and his 39 yard run.
Defense - The defense had a bit of a breakdown near the end of the first half, allowing the Eagles to run the ball well. However, the Ravens only allowed 96 total yards in the first half, another dominant performance.
Special Teams - Without Devin Hester, return jobs were clearly up for grabs. In the first half, Chris Moore returned kickoffs, and Michael Campanaro returned punts. Campanaro didn't do much in the return game. Chris Moore
First Half Winners
Zach Orr - Orr would leave the game, going into concussion protocol, but would come back, a win it of itself for the Ravens defense. Orr would pick off a Wentz pass on the Eagles first drive, setting up a Ravens touchdown.
Terrance West - One week after being barely used, West has been the featured back. Dixon has struggled so far in this game, while West has 69 total yards in the first half, being used in both the running and passing games.
Defensive line - The defensive line provided constant pressure throughout the first half. Wentz looked completely uncomfortable, and expect for the Eagles long touchdown drive, dominated the game. The group was a key part of the Ravens only allowing 96 total yards in the first half.
Michael Campanaro - Campanaro is playing in his first game of the year, and already provided a huge impact with his 39 yard run.
First Half Losers
Kenneth Dixon - Dixon missed a block that led to a strip sack of Flacco, and he has not provided much positive impact on the game.
Vlad Ducasse - Fletcher Cox has been having his way with Ducasse in the first half, being the only Eagle to provide consistent pressure on Flacco.
Start of Second Half
The Ravens got the ball to start the second half, but were not able to add to their lead. Terrance West took a carry out to the right sideline, and carried multiple Eagles defenders downfield on a Marshawn Lynch approved “Beast Mode” 41 yard rush. Breaking Campanaro’s mark for longest rush of the season set earlier today. The Ravens would waste the great run however, going three and out from that point. The Ravens were not able to down the ensuing Sam Koch punt before it went through the end zone.
The Eagles wouldn’t do much on their opening drive of the half either. After an Eric Weddle interception was called back as result of a penalty called on Zach Orr, the Ravens would not allow the Eagles to pick up many yards. The Eagles would eventually be forced into a fourth down, after pressure on Wentz forced an overthrow on a third-and-three from the Ravens 39 yard line. The Eagles elected to go for it on fourth down, and again, the Wentz pass fell incomplete.
The Ravens offense would punt to the sound of a few boos on their ensuing drive. The Eagles would proceed to go on a 13 play, 79 yard drive which ate almost seven minutes of the clock. The Eagles leaned heavily on the run on the drive, and largely succeeded. Ryan Mathew brought his rushing total up to 77 yards, and the Eagles as a team went to 114 rushing yards. In one of the biggest surprises of the day, the Eagles have been able to solved the Ravens number one ranked run defense. Despite the the yardage picked up on the drive, the Eagles were not able to find the end zone.
Start of Fourth Quarter
Instead, Stugis kicked, and made, another field goal as the fourth quarter began.
The Ravens offense would get rolling after Steve Smith caught a pass off of tip to pick up a Ravens first down. Flacco would then look to screen passes to West and Darren Waller to move the Ravens downfield. A face mask call on the Eagles moved the Ravens to the Eagles 16 yard line. From there, Kenneth Dixon took a run off of Ronnie Stanley, and cut outside the numbers, Dixon used his speed to pick up a first down, and used his power to drag Eagles defenders with him into the end zone, extending the Ravens lead. The score was Dixon’s first rushing touchdowns of his career.
The Ravens defense would continue to struggle against the run, but refused to break. The Eagles were able to cross midfield, and arrive on the verge of field goal territory. The Ravens forced a fourth down, and the Eagles again elected to go for it. Wentz handed the ball off to Nelson Agholar who was running a jet sweep, the Ravens beat the former first round pick to the corner, and forced Agholar to step out of bounds before the first down marker, and the Ravens would take over.
The Ravens would quickly find themselves in a third down situation following a Steve Smith drop. Flacco found Mike Wallace on a short pass over the middle. Wallace would make the catch for the first down, and speed down the field, a 54 yard gain that would put the Ravens on the Eagles five yard line.
Mike Wallace is fast.— Luke Jones (@BaltimoreLuke) December 18, 2016
The Ravens could not capitalize however, as on the very next play, Flacco threw a brutal interception to Jordan Hicks.
UP TEN POINTS AND YOURE THROWING IN THE REDZONE TO A COVERED RECEIVER— Kyle P Barber (@BMoreBeatdown) December 18, 2016
And Flacco is picked off. Unbelievable how this offense refuses to run the ball.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) December 18, 2016
The Eagles would move down the field extremely quickly, advancing to the Ravens seven yard line. On a third and goal, Wentz lobbed a pass to the front corner of the end zone to Dorial Green-Beckham. Rookie Tavon Young provided spectacular coverage on the much bigger receiver, knocking the pass away, and forcing another Sturgis field goal.
The Ravens would get the ball back, barely eat any time off the clock, and go three-and-out. The Eagles got the ball back on their own 41 with 1:39 left.
Aided by two big penalties and a 24 yard pass to Zach Ertz, the Eagles moved inside the Ravens 10 yard line. Carson Wentz would scramble outside of the pocket, and push his way past Eric Weddle for a touchdown to move within one point. The Eagles unsurprisingly elected to go for two. Wentz looked for Jordan Matthews in the middle of the field, and Jerraud Powers made a spectacular play to knock the pass away.
Eagles 2-point conversion is NO GOOD.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 18, 2016
Ravens 27 | Eagles 26
The Eagles would attempt and onside kick, of which Anthony Levine Sr. recovered. Flacco took a knee, and helped the Ravens hold on for the win. The Ravens moved to 8-6 on the year, remaining a game behind the Steelers who came back to beat the Bengals. The Ravens will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in a Christmas Day showdown with the AFC North on the line
End of Game: Ravens win 27-26
Second Half Notes
Offense - The Ravens run game featured both running backs in the second half. In the past it has been purely on back or the other doing well. West finished with 77 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards. Dixon had 36 rushing yards, mostly in the second half, but no receiving yards.
Defense - The defense struggled to stop the run for the first time this year, allowing 169 rushing yards, more than double the Ravens average running yards allowed per game. Penalties helped the Eagles move the ball on their last drive, but when it came down to it, the defense made the plays they needed to make, preventing the Eagles from converting a two points conversion.
Special Teams - The special teams were not a huge factor in the second half. The Ravens seem content on having Chris Moore retune kicks and Campanaro return punts. Justin Tucker was his typical elite self, not missing a field goal or extra point.
Second Half Winners
Running backs - Terrance West provided the highlight with a 41 yard run, and Dixon provided the game winning score on a 16 yard run.
Jerraud Powers - Powers came up with a huge play stopping the Eagles from converting a two point conversion at the end, and preserving the Ravens win.
C.J. Mosley - Yes, Mosley had a crucial penalty called on him in the fourth quarter, but Mosley had 13 total tackles as well as forced fumble.
Second Half Losers
Run defense - The Ravens dominant run defense had its first bad game of the year, allowing more than double their average per game. With the Steelers looming next week, the Ravens run defense will need to recover.
Joe Flacco - Flacco was very inconsistent in the second half, and threw an interception that nearly cost the Ravens the game.
Play calling - The pick was Flacco’s fault; however, with the ball at the Eagles five, up by 10 points, there was no reason to throw the ball. The Ravens should have ran the ball, which they had done effectively, to eat time off the clock, and not allow the Eagles to have a chance to win the game.