I am sure when the Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP dashed through the Eagles defense 37 yards for a touchdown giving the visitors a 24-6 lead with 4:25 left in the third quarter, many Eagles fans were probably checking to see if they could opt out for the season.
But the Eagles, playing with virtually all backups on offense except center Jason Kelce and quarterback rallied to pull within a two-point conversion of tying the game with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter.
Wentz and running back Boston Scott botched the conversion attempt and the Ravens (5-1) escaped with a 30-28 win over the Eagles (1-4-1) at Lincoln Financial Field in front of about 5,500 fans.
There are no moral victories in the NFL, but this one was as close as a team can get.
“Really, last week, this week, obviously, the ending is not what we wanted,” said Wentz, who finished 21 of 40 for 213 yards, two TD passes and no interceptions.“ But to see the way guys have fought and being down in both games and rallied back, and the resiliency of this team is something that I don’t think you can question. And the toughness of these guys and I mean, you got injuries all over the board and you got guys stepping up that maybe just got here this week or all over the board. And that’s not an excuse, but there’s a lot of good that we can learn from and the fight and the effort is something that I’m so proud of. These guys – to give us the chance to tie it up at the end of the game – obviously we came up short and we’re frustrated with that, but I’m proud of these guys and we’ll keep building with this. We have a quick week to turn it around and start going in the right direction.”
The injuries to the Eagles offensive line this year is stunning. Four of the lineman who started the game against Baltimore are backups. Starting right guard Jamon Brown arrived at NovaCare this week. He is was in for Matt Pryor, who missed the game over reported COVID-19 precautions.
Rookie right tackle Jack Driscoll was carted off the field against the Ravens after Baltimore defensive tackle Calais Campbell rolled over his ankle late in the fourth quarter.
Driscoll started the game for injured Pro Bowler Lane Johnson the Eagles subbed in former Army star Bret Toth, who joined the team this week when the Eagles claimed him off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals.
Zach Ertz left the game in fourth quarter with an ankle injury. He had four catches for 33 yards at the time.Miles Sanders left the game in the third quarter after injuring his knee at the end of a 74-yard run. He rushed nine times for 118 yards before the injury.
Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz are both scheduled to undergo MRIs Monday, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported after the game.
Kelce talked about the injuries after the game and if he's ever been associated with a team suffering with so many. The Birds makeshift O-line line allowed six sacks, eight tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hurries.
“We have had some injuries here before, but obviously this is on another level,” the Pro Bowl center said at his post game video conference. “The whole off-season and everything that has transpired this season, COVID and everything, you are seeing injuries up across the league. Everybody seems that they are dealing with this issue right now. I haven’t really been a part of something like this drastic like this in my career, but you are always trying to overcome this stuff. You are always game planning, and coaching, and trying to get guys ready for whoever is going to be there on game day. At the end of the day, in this league, that is all that matters. You can’t make excuses.”
Kelce was asked about his thoughts about he and Wentz being the only starters left when the game finished:“Obviously more is on my shoulders,” He said. “I am trying to be a better leader and trying to make sure we are overstating communication and the guys understand everything that is going on. I have been honestly quite happy with a number of the guys who have come in and played. Some of these young guys have gone in and battled and have done a great job. Nate Herbig has really done well. Jordan Mailata, obviously everyone wants to talk about him. The big rugby player has gone out there and done a great job. Jack Driscoll is a rookie who has played phenomenal. We have gotten some guys who have answered the bell. For me, I just try and make sure I overstate communication during the week and try and help these guys so anything that could arise, they are ready for it and prepared for.”
Wide receiver Travis Fulgham continues to impress. The second year receiver has caught a touchdown pass in all three games he has played for the Birds.Against the Ravens, Fulgham caught six passes for 75 yards including an 18-yard TD in the fourth quarter.
The 6-foot-2, 215 pounder out of Old Dominion was asked about playing well in back-to-back games and what that does for his confidence.
“It means a lot that Carson trusts me now and we continue to build on it,” the 25-year-old said. “I just wish I could’ve made more plays for the team, and we just need to do more to get the win.”
Jackson rushed nine times for 108 yards and a touchdown. He was 16 of 27 passing for 186 yards and a touchdown, a seven yard pass to tight end Nick Boyle in the first quarter.
Campbell said after the game that holding off the Eagles would help build what he called 'championship character.’ Jackson was asked whether he agrees:
“Yeah, I agree as well,” he said. “Usually when you go out there and beat teams by a lot sometimes teams get cocky. The Eagles put up a fight with us. Honestly, we needed that. And I agree with him. We just have to keep moving forward. Come out of the bye week and we have the Steelers as a rival game. We just have to go out there and be us.”
Eagles coach Doug Pederson was asked about his team's comeback and if there is any positives he can take from this game even though they lost.“Yeah, and I would even say that Kelce and Carson were banged up, too,” Pederson said. “It was a physical football game against a really good opponent. My message to the football team is basically there's all the should of, would of, could of’s out there, plays that we missed in the first half, turnovers, whatever it might be.”
“But this group, every healthy body that we had played in this football game. I'm going to tell you, it's tough to win in the National Football League, okay. You guys know exactly where we're at health-wise and these guys battled their tails off today, and still had a chance to tie this football game, really had a chance to win this football game against a healthy, healthy football team.“
So as the head coach, I can stand here and I'm proud of those guys in the locker room. And I know they are going to get beat down this week and that's your job. But my job is to encourage them and say, hey, you know -- and I get it, there are no moral victories in the NFL. There are no moral victories at all and we are all graded on wins and losses. But for this team to hang together on the sideline, to not point fingers, to battle, to be in this position with all the mistakes that were made in the first half, really offensively and then we missed the kick, the field goal at the end of the half, those are the differences in games. Those are things that we're going to learn from and we're going to get better from. So I'm proud of the guys for the way they battled today.” *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii