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Eagles TKO Ravens in 12th Round

The Eagles won a second straight thriller to open their season 2-0, but turnovers are fast becoming a significant cause for concern.

In a thrilling Week Two victory, the Eagles won a second straight nail-biter to run their record to 2-0. It is the first time since 2004 that the Eagles have won their first two games and only the third time in Andy Reid’s tenure they have done so.

This was one of the most important Eagles victories in recent memory. Other than the obvious—washing the taste of an ugly game in Cleveland out of their mouths while striving to stay atop the NFC East—the Eagles saw the Ravens as a test of their toughness.

Test it the Ravens did, and to their dismay, found the Eagle is the tougher bird after all. The Ravens were sent flying back down I-95 with a broken wing and crooked beak, courtesy of a physical Eagles team.

The game was marred by scrums and cheap shots that sometime escalated into near-brawls, as the replacement officials floundered around incompetently. The Eagles took every shot the Ravens had and gave it back and more. By the end of this heavyweight fight—the very end—the Eagles were the team left standing.

Defense Remains a Strength

Pressed again to compensate for FOUR turnovers, the Eagles defense showed it may be progressing into becoming a shutdown unit. It’s not there yet, but this year’s defense is already light years ahead of the 2011 defense, making big plays to prevent offensive turnovers from derailing games early and sealing games in the clutch.

All the confusion and unevenness fans saw on the 2011 defense has been reduced, if not eliminated. Juan Castillo should be given a lot of credit for that. But more than Castillo’s growth, the Eagles' dramatic improvement on defense is the result of an infusion of some formidable talent.

There was a lot of angst when MLB Demeco Ryans did not show much in the preseason. He was excellent in Week One and even better Sunday.

Ryans had six tackles and was the biggest playmaker on defense. His sack and interception of Ravens QB Joe Flacco were both huge second-half plays. Add Mychal Kendricks strong play and Eagles fans have a LB corps the likes of which they have not seen in years.

The secondary also has improved dramatically. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) is an even better outside corner than Asante Samuel was and the chemistry is exponentially better without 'Zant in the locker room. Both Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen have played well, although the lack of depth at the safety position is still a concern for the unit. Ironically, the only weak link has been Nnamdi Asomughua, who got burned for two more TDs yesterday; fortunately, one was called back by a penalty.

The Eagles defensive line also played well. They put consistent pressure on Flacco, but they must record more than the two sacks a game they have managed thus far. Trent Cole forced a fumble by sacking Flacco in the first quarter that the Eagles recovered, partly erasing Vick’s first interception on the preceding drive. Rookie Fletcher Cox played very well, notching five tackles.

Encouragingly, the defense was able to seal a victory after the Eagles took the lead within the final two minutes of the game. Neither Cleveland nor Baltimore gained even one first down on their final drives—a far cry from the defense that surrendered five fourth-quarter leads last year.

Offense Still a Work in Progress

The Eagles play-calling was much more balanced this week, with 41 rushes and 32 passes. The offense was dynamic, productive, exciting—and error-prone, committing four more turnovers in its home opener. Vick threw a horrendous endzone interception to kill a promising opening drive (and another later that wasn't his fault, off the hands of Brent Celek, one of the few miscues the big TE made Sunday). Add in two RB fumbles—one in the Red Zone—and the offensive turnovers in this young season tally nine.

The Eagles squandered at least six (and probably ten or fourteen) points with the two Red Zone turnovers, not to mention the other two. The defense has withstood the constant pressure admirably; however, the Eagles should have won this game by two touchdowns. No NFL team can virtually surrender fourteen points due to turnovers and keep surviving. Doing so means outplaying the other team by more than two TDs, and in this league of parity, no team can continually do that.

As it is unlikely that Michael Vick will ever eliminate the turnovers from his game, the Eagles cannot afford to have their RBs fumble the ball. And even if he doesn't eliminate the turnoves from his game, Vick MUST limit them, or it will again be the downfall of this team. His decision-making was much better Sunday; he hung in the pocket and went through his reads, ran when he had to and made plays. As maddening as his shortcomings are, fans have to admire Vick's ability to engineer fourth-quarter comeback wins. It has been more than a decade since the Eagles have had a QB who could do that.

Lesean McCoy gained 81 tough yards and the Eagles mixed in a couple other ball-carriers, which is a necessity. Desean Jackson battled through an injury to tally 114 yards on seven catches and an injured Jeremy Maclin caught a TD pass for the second straight week.

The receiving star on Sunday was TE Brent Celek. He caught eight passes for 156 yards, bulled over defenders, hurdled Ed Reed and cemented his reputation as a fan favorite with an emphatic first-down signal after taking a huge hit and hanging on to the ball.

On the final drive, the Eagles went eighty yards on ten plays in 2:48, with Vick scoring the game-winner on a one yard QB keeper.

Enjoy the Win, but Don't Look Past the Cardinals

This win was cause for jubilation because the Eagles took on a physical team, outmuscled and out-gutted them for a thrilling victory. Michael Vick was mostly great, but no amount of great play can outweigh that many turnovers in the long run. Still, Vick won his sixth straight start.

The Eagles outgained the Ravens 486 to 325, bested them in first downs, 26-17, and had almost ten more minutes in time of possession. Although it was incredibly exciting, they should have won by more than a single point… again.

The Eagles are a talented team and so far they have managed to win games this year they would have lost last year. It cannot be said enough that they have to cut down the turnovers or will eventually be their undoing; simple as that.

This week’s Eagles trip to the desert is fraught with danger. Not from scorpions and such, but from turnover on the road. Should they fail to reduce them, they could revisit the ugly loss they suffered last year to these same Cardinals, who have won nine of their last eleven games. If they do limit the turnovers, they will enjoy a 3-0 start to 2012.

NOTES

  • The replacement officials were horrendous Sunday. Their inability to spot the ball caused the game to take three-and-a-half-hours to play. They made a number of terrible calls and non-calls on both sides. This happened across the league.
  • Of the other NFC East teams, only the Giants won Sunday, making the Eagles the only 2-0 team in the division.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Gary B September 19, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Could not agree more. It's an embarrassment. The leagues needs to get the refs back on the field asap.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Look for a remembrance here on Patch tmow.
Bo September 19, 2012 at 07:16 AM
RIP Steve, I love 'em, he and his Dad are trailblazers in the making of sports films. NFL Films signature style became Steve's mastery of visual storytelling and football, where he used the full spectrum of the NFL as his palate. I was confused when I learned years ago that he wasn't an Eagles fan, being a South Jersey lifer, but latter upon my first reading of 'The Autumn Wind,' which he penned, it became easy to forgive him. I thought, thank god he was a Raiders fan and not a Cowboys fan. His face is weatherbeaten He wears a hooded sash With a silver hat about his head And a bristling black mustache
Bo September 19, 2012 at 07:25 AM
I'm still a little worried about the O-line, and it being thin now with the injuries at Center and Left Tackle, but they played better this week than last. Dallas Reynolds filled in nicely at Center, and I hope he continues to improve with this opportunity.
Reed Rothchild September 19, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Well put Bo. The Sabol's deserve a lot of credit for making the NFL what it is today. If there already isn't a "Sabol Award" given out each season by the NFL there definitely should be. RIP
Mike Diviney September 19, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Bo, what was his rationale for being a Raider fan? I know he grew up here.
Mike Diviney September 19, 2012 at 09:07 PM
And what is a "hooded sash"?
Mike Diviney September 19, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Great to see Reed and Bo getting along. Much more productive. The dissemination of information and tribute to those who have recently passed, minus the accusation of criminal activities and name-calling, warranted though they may be.
Mike Diviney September 19, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Mudd's lines always gel as the season goes on- see 2011. Don't know anything about Reynolds except that he played well last week. Shame about Kelce. I think they're better off with Bell in there anyway. King is a backup and back where he belongs. Bell has more talent and maybe his demotion motivated him.
Larry O'Doyle September 20, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Wow. I haven't seen this much complaining about officiating since Dwayne Wade missed a wide open layup. I think the "real" officials are too often thrusting themselves into the game to feed their insatiable egos and brag to their bare chested "buddies" in the sauna at the club. Don't worry, I'm sure they'll more than make up for lost face time as they swoop down from their zebra-striped towers to save the game. Last week was partly great because of the absence of the old guard. Under thistemporary regime, players get away with just a little more contact- a scratch here, a bite there, etc. For example, Desean Jackson would have most likely been ejected for his impromptu flyweight bout with Jimmy Smith if the "real" officials were there. Careful what you wish for, that's all I'm saying. Anyway, razor sharp analysis of this game and the upcoming one against the Cards Mike. Keep up the great work. GO BIRDS!!!!!
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) September 20, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Here you go—with a remembrance from Ray Didinger, no less: http://collingswood.patch.com/articles/remembering-steve-sabol-president-of-nfl-films
Phil McConkey September 20, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Bo welcome back. Great Haiku!!!
Mike Diviney September 20, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Haha, I second the kudos to Bo on his Haiku. Still waiting for explanation of a sash.
Mike Diviney September 20, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Thanks Larry. I share your dislike of the regular officials, but... I won't laud the replacement guys to justify it. They don't necessarily allow more contact, they arbitrarily sometimes do, sometimes don't- see the Off PI they called on the Ravens- which I loved. Their performance just makes the games look sloppier than they are. Their inability to spot the ball and to count is inexcusable and hurts the game a little in addition to making the games 4 hours long.
Mike Diviney September 20, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Need to reiterate, this is a dangerous game. The Cardinals have won 9 of their last 11. The desert is always disconcerting for the Eagles, especially at 4 o'clock. The Cardinals D is very strong- they sacked Brady 4 times and we have 2 backup linemen playing. The saving graces are that it's a revenge game from last year - hopefully the Eagles remember that disaster. AND, the Eagles have a ferocious D line. Kevin Kolb is a guy that looks very good when protected and like a Pop Warner league QB if pressured. AND Andy Reid knows Kolb's weaknesses inside out. Hopefully that's enough for the Eagles to win.
Bo September 21, 2012 at 12:42 AM
For what productive purpose do you randomly interject this garbage again here. You gotta get a little more creative Mike. I had hoped such would eventually happened but it appears not. Gentleman that was part of a poem, which I posted above, was written by Steve Sabol, maybe I should have posted the whole poem, anyway here is the Wikipedia link to "An Autumn Wind." That is the descrption of whatever is on the side of the Raiders helmet. Dallas is a BYU grad who's been on the practice squad for the past three seasons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Autumn_Wind
Mike Diviney September 21, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Bo, I'm sorry my level I creativity is not up to your standards, but I have no idea what "garbage" you're referring to. I genuinely don't know what a sash is. You can't really expect anyone to identify part of a poem they haven't read. People were just asking for clarification. I think everyone knew THAT much about Reynolds Bo. Still don't know what a sash is.
Mike Diviney September 21, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Well said. It was well done and well-deserved. NFL Films does NOT get enough credit for their role in making the NFL by leaps and bounds, the country's most popular sport. The NFL was an afterthought into the 50's. It was the Sabols and John Facenda who played a major role in promoting the NFL and bringing it into the mainstream. Facenda was a genius choice by the Sabols. Obviously the VOICE was one of a kind, but it's interesting that he knew very little about football- the Sabols figured out it wouldn't matter.
Mike Diviney September 21, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Have to say one thing about Vick. Don't like him for personal reasons although everyone deserves a 2nd chance, but not a 4th and a 5th. I don't love him as a QB because he relied too long on physical ability and hasn't developed the cerebral part of his game that makes a QB great and able to play a long time. However, I have to admire that he doesn't shrink from the moment. We've all seen what he's done in the last 4 minutes of the first 2 games and it's refreshing to see that from a QB after so many years of just giving up when the Eagles were down with the ball with less than 5 minutes to play.
Bo September 21, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Sash, what?? How did you deduct that from my reply to you. It was clearly about you re-hashing a minor & since forgotten squabble between myself and Phil or Reed. Sash, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sash ..
Bo September 21, 2012 at 03:39 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy2647zZqD8 This was a beautifully done video piece for Ed Sabol's HOF induction ceremony. You hear all the classic NFL Films music and the football moments which accompanied them.
Phil McConkey September 21, 2012 at 11:35 AM
yeah that was really good. Thanks for sharing that Bo. Never saw that before.
Bo September 21, 2012 at 05:39 PM
That is right on the money Mike, for whatever Vick is or isn't, it is hard not to admire that he doesn't shrink from the moment. It sounds funny to say, considering the Eagles are 2-0, but I have a feeling that this game against the Cards is a must win. We play the Giants, Steelers and Lions before the bye, and Atlanta and New Orleans after the bye. I think that Giants team got a wake-up call in week one and now appear to be the class of not just our division but the entire league. I'd want to think we'd beat both the Lions and the Steelers, but chances are we lose one of those games, and it'll probably be in Pittsburgh. This schedule looks tougher than others I recall.
Mike Diviney September 21, 2012 at 09:35 PM
WOAH on the Giants. They beat a bad Carolina team, the Eagles are still undefeated and the 49ers have played the best football of anyone yet. I don't buy the schedule stuff as much as others. If you're good enough, you beat who you play. What I do believe in is when you play them. Ebb and flow, trap games, etc. which is why I'm worried this week.
Mike Diviney September 21, 2012 at 09:38 PM
All the baloney about the Cards defense actually isn't. They are that good. Most importantly, the Cardinals D has allowed 2 or fewer TD's in ELEVEN straight games. That's pretty remarkable. I fear this tight a game could come down to special teams and the Cardinals have some of THE BEST. Again, their O-line is shaky and Kolb is bad when pressured. That said, his quick release has allowed him to be sacked once in 35 dropbacks. The Eagles have to do MUCH better than that.
Mike Diviney September 21, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Thanks for the insight Bo. I'm fashioning myself a GREEN & SILVER sash even as I'm writing this.
Bo September 23, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Mikey it is poetry, I'd assume words like sash which may make the reader think of any number of images, and make you think, as it seems you did here, seems to be the purpose of such writings. I just assumed a pirate wore a sash but didn't know exactly why or what its purpose was until I wiki'd 'Sash.' Its ornamental mostly, when your in boy scouts you wear a sash with your uniform, which has all your merit badges attached to it. But back to the Eagles, was Bell hurt during the game, it totally slipped my mind?
Bo September 23, 2012 at 05:02 AM
My bad the Eagles had D Bell on the inactive list, but not our LT the other Bell, Dennis.
Fabiola Et September 24, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Great game but it was very intense at the same time lol. I have a feeling that we are going to have a great season this year. FLY EAGLES!
Bo September 25, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Can we have more discussions about sashes and poetry here, this Eagles talk, when bad games occur, is starting to get stressful.

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