Vick Leads Late Comeback, Eagles Top Ravens 24-23
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The script had a vastly different feel, but the key plot points were the same. The Eagles overcame four turnovers and, facing a late six-point deficit, Michael Vick orchestrated a long touchdown drive to grab a one-point win over an AFC North foe.
This time, it was the Baltimore Ravens, a Super Bowl contender, rather than the hapless Cleveland Browns, on the other sideline. After two weeks, the Eagles are 2-0 by the narrowest of margins, and Vick is 10-of-15 for 125 yards and a touchdown with four rushes for 20 yards, a touchdown and a fumble on his two game-winning drives.
This week’s drive went 80 yards on 10 plays, last week’s went 19 yards on 16 plays.
“In the moment, you just have to be at your best and it’s got to be by any means necessary,” Vick said. “You just have to want more and more the closer you get to the end zone, the hungrier you get.”
The Eagles trailed 17-7 at halftime and it was their defense that sparked the comeback.
On the first drive of the third quarter, linebacker DeMeco Ryans intercepted Ravens qurterback Joe Flacco at the Eagles’ 43-yardline. Ryans also had a sack, two tackles for a loss and seven total tackles.
Flacco finished 22-of-42 for 232 yards, a touchdown and an interception and was sacked twice.
A 15-yard penalty on Ray Rice for unnecessary roughness was tacked on and gave the Eagles a short field at the Ravens’ 42-yardline.
The game was frequently chippy, as the officiating crew struggled to gain control from the early stages and several plays ended with skirmishes.
“It was a physical game and both teams were getting after each other,” said Eagles head coach Andy Reid. “You’re going to have games like this where you have two heavyweights going after each other.”
Six plays later, Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for a 23-yard touchdown after being flushed out to his left. Maclin hauled the ball in from his knees along the side of the end zone to cut the deficit to 17-14.
Maclin later left the game when he re-aggravated his hip pointer and returned for one play before calling it an afternoon.
Philadelphia’s defense forced three striaght incomplete passes and the Eagles got the ball back at their own 35-yardline. On the second play of the drive, Vick found tight end Brent Celek, who put together one of the highlights in a monster game when he leaped over Ravens safety Ed Reed en route to a 24-yard pickup. The drive resulted in a 23-yard field goal by Alex Henery, tying the game at 17-17.
Celek finished with eight catches for a career-high 157 yards.
The Eagles forced a pair of three-and-outs, but the offense couldn’t put points on the board with a three-and-out of its own followed up by an interception when a Vick pass went off the fingertips of Celek and into the waiting arms of Reed.
The Ravens settled for a 51-yard Justin Tucker field goal and a 20-17 lead. When Philadelphias talled out near midfield, the Ravens again orchestrated a drive that ended in a field goal, this time from 48 yards out.
The Eagles dodged a bullet, though, as Jacoby Jones caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco that was negated by an offensive pass interference call even though no flag was thrown. It was one of many moments that were, at best, confusing in a chaotic game with replacement referees.
That gave the Eagles the ball with 4:43 remaining and Vick went to work, finding DeSean Jackson for 14 yards and Celek for 24 to cross into Ravens territory at the 42-yardline. Jackson caught seven passes for 114 yards.
Vick then scrambled for eight yards and found Celek two plays later for another 13 on third-and-2.
Later, facing second-and-14 at the 25-yardline, Vick hit Clay Harbor for a 19-yard gain with a roughing the passer flag against Ravens defensive end Art Jones tacking on three more yards.
Two plays later, things nearly fell apart for the Eagles, as Michael Vick faced heavy pressure from Baltimore nose tackle Haloti Ngata. Vick tried to throw the ball away, as he was hit, but the offiicals ruled it an incomplete pass.
It was a saving grace for the Eagles, as Vick’s arm was clearly coming forward, leading to the reversal of the call upon review, but the ball did not reach the line of scrimmage. Thus, what should have been intentional grounding instead went down as an incomplete pass.
“He was trying to throw it away,” said Reid. “You saw that [Baltimore] overloaded that side, so he had to stop. It was a sprint out to that side and he had to pull up. He had pressure right in his face and he was trying to get it off and out of bounds.”
The confusion continued for the replacement referees, who announced fourth-and-goal from the 1-yardline on what should have been third down. Meanwhile, the chain gang showed it as second down. Regardless, Vick ran it up the middle on a quarterback draw for a 1-yard touchdown and, after an extra point from Henery, a 24-23 lead.
The Eagles defense made the stop on the Ravens’ final possession, securing a one-point win.
Vick completed 23-of-32 passes for 371 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions while also running 10 times for 34 yards and a score. Vick’s 371 passing yards were the second most in his career.
The Ravens had built their early lead off of turnovers, as Vick served up a red zone interception on the opening drive of the game, throwing across his body for Harbor but finding Bernard Pollard instead.
“I told him to just keep playing,” said Reid. “He’ll work through this. He has enough history to know what a great player he is and that part hasn’t changed.”
Two plays later, the defense bailed him out, as Trent Cole sacked Flacco and forced a fumble. The Eagles cashed it in with a 15-yard touchdown drive culminating in a 1-yard scoring run by LeSean McCoy.
McCoy finished with 81 yards on 25 carries and two catches for eight yards.
The Ravens answered after a 49-yard kick return by Deonte Thompson gave them strong field position and Flacco opened the drive with a 23-yard pass to tight end Ed Dickson. A few plays alter, Vonta Leach punched in a 5-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7-7.
A couple series later, the Ravens attempted a fake punt on fourth-and-4 at their own 43-yardline, as former Eagles safety Sean Considine ran up the middle but found only three yards.
The play was particularly notable as Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is the former special teams coordinator of the Eagles.
Philadelphia’s offense failed to convert the turnover into points, though, as Vick fumbled on a handoff with Bryce Brown on third-and-1 from the Ravens’ 20. Four plays later, Flacco hit Jacoby Jones for a 21-yard touchdown after Ray Rice opened the drive with a 43-yard run.
Rice finished with 99 yards on 16 carries, while catching six passes for 53 yards.
The Eagles threatened two drives later, but McCoy fumbled on first-and-goal from the 9-yardline and Ray Lewis recovered the looes ball. The scoring in the opening half was closed when Tucker connected on a 56-yard field goal with one second remaining to give Baltimore a 17-7 lead going into the locker room.
The Eagles lost several players to injury throughout the game, most notably starting center Jason Kelce, who left with a right knee sprain. Kelce will have an MRI tomorrow, but it doesn’t sound promising.
“I can’t tell you that that one looks real good,” Reid said.
Dallas Reynolds came on in relief and would be the de facto starter if Kelce were to miss significant time, unless the Eagles opted to make a move.
A few plays later, left tackle King Dunlap went down with a hamstring strain and Demetress Bell, active for the first time with the Eagles in the regular season, took over and finished the game.
The following play, Maclin re-injured his hip pointer. He later returned for one play before calling it a game.
Ryan Messick covers the Eagles for 97.3 ESPN FM. Follow him on Twitter.