Stover gets Ravens over top

Kicker's 30-yard FG as time expires boots Eagles, 10-7

Stokley catches TD pass

Mitchell struggles

backup QBs play well

August 13, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA -- Place-kicker Matt Stover kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired to complete an eight-play, 50-yard drive as the Ravens defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 10-7, last night at Veterans Stadium in the preseason opener for both teams.

The Ravens started the final drive with 1: 44 left in the game, and a 10-yard pass from third-string quarterback Wally Richardson to Phil Savoy put the ball on the Eagles' 39-yard line. On the next play, veteran receiver Webster Slaughter had cornerback Eric Edwards beat, but Edwards was called for interference, giving the Ravens possession at the 12. Richardson ran three quarterback sneaks before Stover came on the field.

The Eagles had tied the game at 7-7 on an 11-play, 90-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run around right end by fullback James Bostic, who broke a tackle by linebacker Tyrell Peters at the 2 with 4: 26 left in the game.

The big play in the drive was a 35-yard pass down the middle from quarterback Bobby Hoying to tight end Chris Fontenot to the Ravens' 6-yard line.

"Wally keeps surprising me," said Ravens head coach Brian Billick, who gave himself the game ball, which delighted the players. "He has this presence about him which you don't see in practice. But he has displayed it a couple of times now, tonight and in the last scrimmage. We'll give him the chance."

The Ravens were without three Pro Bowl starters last night. Billick made a game-time decision not to start left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, who has been bothered by a hip pointer the last three days. As expected, the team was without defensive end Michael McCrary (knee) and outside linebacker Peter Boulware (shoulder), who have been restricted in training camp practices.

In a surprise and maybe telling move, Aaron Pierce started at tight end in place of Lovett Purnell, and Qadry Ismail for Patrick Johnson at wide receiver. Johnson had been the starter since training camp opened at the end of July.

"In the case of Aaron, he had a strained quadriceps, so we went with him early because we knew Purnell would have to pull most of the weight," Billick said.

The Ravens offense had numerous problems, but it was apparent that Billick can eye defensive weaknesses. Quarterback Scott Mitchell was under constant pressure and completed only four of seven passes for 30 yards. Running back Priest Holmes had six rushing attempts for 14 yards.

Tony Banks came in to relieve Mitchell and completed nine of 15 passes for 75 yards in about 30 minutes of playing time. Banks was inconsistent at times, but did complete a 10-yard touchdown pass to rookie Brandon Stokely with 1: 56 left in the first half.

"Overall, I thought our offense played well," Billick said. "It's a new offense and they are picking it up pretty well. It may not have shown tonight, but it's coming along."

Billick pulled most his starters by the end of the second quarter. The No. 1 defense turned in a solid effort holding the Eagles to 96 total yards in the first half, 49 through the air.

The Eagles seemed intent on running the ball in the third quarter and turned veteran Eric Bieniemy loose, especially off tackle. Combined with short passes from third-string quarterback Koy Detmer, Philadelphia got as far as the Ravens' 24-yard line before David Akers' 41-yard field-goal attempt went wide left with 5: 05 left in the third quarter.

The Ravens had a chance to take a 10-0 lead at the end of the third quarter when Richardson replaced Banks with 1: 45 left. Richardson looked poised in his first extensive action in three years and completed passes of 15, 10 and 5 yards to march the Ravens from their own 37 to the Eagles' 15. But after a delay-of-game penalty, the Ravens had a low snap and Matt Stover missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt with 11: 54 left in the game.

It was an ugly first quarter played by two ugly offenses. But that was to be expected with two new coaches making their debuts with new quarterbacks and offensive systems. Billick tried everything in the first quarter from the one-back set to two-tight-end and three-wide-receiver packages, but nothing seemed to work. The Ravens' offense was a comedy of errors as the team shuffled interior offensive linemen as well as receivers.

How dismal were the starters in the first quarter? Mitchell fumbled on the first offensive play of the game when fullback Chuck Evans, the lead blocker, accidentally knocked the ball out of his hands. Two plays later, wide receiver Jermaine Lewis had a step on the defensive back and might have had a touchdown, but for some reason he broke off the route while Mitchell threw long.

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