Ravens slip past Eagles for 13-12 win

First-string offense stalls again in red zone, produces one field goal

J. Lewis' absence a factor

Redman: 20 drives, 0 TDs in preseason

defense steps up on 3rd downs

August 24, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - While the Ravens' starting offense failed to score a touchdown for the third straight week, last night's ragged performance produced this point:

Without running back Jamal Lewis fueling the attack, the Ravens appear to be stuck in neutral.

In last night's 13-12 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Veterans Stadium, the Ravens' first-team offense racked up 171 yards in just over a half of work but it couldn't cross into the red zone. It didn't matter if Chris Redman or Jeff Blake was quarterbacking, as the Ravens' top group got no closer than the Eagles' 22-yard line.

The Ravens improved to 2-1 this preseason, but their starting offense has totaled just three field goals in 20 drives. The Ravens didn't risk Jamal Lewis' surgically repaired knee on the dangerous turf, and his absence contributed to a lackluster running game.

"I'm glad to get out of here with a win and I'm glad we played well," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "About midway through the first quarter against Carolina [in the season opener], no one is going to give a flip who scored what and when ... in the preseason."

On the positive side, the Ravens' defense rebounded for a solid effort.

The starting unit held the Eagles to two field goals and didn't surrender a third-down conversion. That showing was nearly blown by the Ravens' backups as Eagles third-string quarterback Tim Hasselbeck scored late in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard sneak.

With the Ravens ahead 13-12 with 1:24 remaining, Philadelphia tried a two-point conversion, but running back Rod Smart, who was known as "He Hate Me" in the XFL, dropped the pass in the end zone.

"The game did give us a chance for the defense to have to step up and make some plays," Billick said.

Without Lewis, Redman delivered mixed results in his third start. One moment he's throwing his best pass of the preseason and the next he's having trouble just holding onto the ball. He struggled in establishing a rhythm, finishing 9-for-15 for 150 yards and fumbling twice.

"Honestly, I think [touchdowns] are yet to come," Redman said. "Obviously, Jamal didn't play and I think he gives us more of a run threat. He's one of the best backs in the league. His presence in the offense will help a lot. But we still feel like we should score. We just have to keep fighting."

Redman shouldn't solely be blamed for the weak attack.

In his first outing with the starters this preseason, Blake couldn't break them out of their preseason funk. Playing two first-half series, the 11-year veteran completed two of six passes for 13 yards.

Blake did his damage in the second half. He was 4-for-6 for 79 yards after halftime and led the only touchdown drive.

His 25-yard scoring pass to a wide-open Javin Hunter put the Ravens ahead 10-6 with 5:45 left in the third quarter.

"I was a little spotty," Blake said. "I missed a couple of throws to open guys and balls were a little high. I just have to get my feet set. Those plays I really need to be making. But we had no problem moving the ball."

For most of the night, the quarterbacks didn't receive much help. In the first half, Ravens running backs ran for 30 yards on 14 carries, an average of 2.1 yards per attempt.

In Lewis' only series of the preseason last week, the Ravens had the look of a strong-willed, ball-control offense. The starting offense moved the ball 69 yards - its longest drive of the preseason - and marched to the 7-yard line, the closest it has gotten to the end zone.

With Lewis on the sideline last night, the Ravens' starters crossed into Philadelphia territory only twice.

On the opening series, Redman hit receiver Brandon Stokley for an 18-yard gain. Two plays later, he fumbled a snap. The drive ended when Redman felt some pressure and threw behind Stokley for an incompletion.

The Eagles then got out of their preseason rut on a series of swing passes and runs up the middle. Philadelphia controlled the clock for nearly six minutes, but its drive ended on Will Demps' sack of quarterback Donovan McNabb.

David Akers' 40-yard field goal midway through the first quarter gave Philadelphia a 3-0 advantage and provided the Eagles' first first-quarter points of the preseason.

"Donovan made a couple of plays when he got outside the pocket, but we settled down when they got inside the red zone," inside linebacker Ray Lewis said. "We bothered him enough to make him miss some short throws."

The Ravens' second possession was highlighted by Redman's 28-yard pass to tight end Todd Heap. Redman's best toss of the preseason had perfect touch and went over the top of the defense.

The drive stalled at the Eagles' 45-yard line as running back Chester Taylor fumbled and Redman overthrew receiver Ron Johnson.

Redman then suffered a tough break on his next series. His pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and fell into the hands of Philadelphia linebacker Barry Gardner.

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