Loss shows Ravens' flaws

QB Boller is at his `worst,' and Eagles burn defense, kick team for TDs, 20-14

Billick: `It was terrible ... terrible'

Eagles 20, Ravens 14

August 21, 2005|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The breaking point came after Kyle Boller's third turnover of the night, when coach Brian Billick just stared at the ground amid the boos from the M&T Bank Stadium crowd.

The Ravens' home debut had officially become unsightly.

Flopping early and often, the Ravens took a major step backward in a 20-14 preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last night, as every facet of the team shared in the misery.

The offense missed blocks. The quarterback missed receivers. The defense missed tackles. And special teams missed assignments.

"It was terrible ... terrible," Billick said in assessing a first half in which his starters left the game at halftime trailing 17-7. "We're lucky with play like that it's only the preseason. We didn't have the intensity that you need to have every time you step on the field. That's something this team is usually good at. That concerns me a little bit."

Like most years, the offense tops those concerns.

In five series against the Eagles' starting defense, Boller had nearly as many turnovers (three) as completions (four). Facing pressure most of the game, the third-year starting quarterback threw two interceptions in the first quarter and fumbled in the second while being sacked.

"It's probably my worst quarter and a half in the NFL," Boller said. "It's one of those things where after the second one, you think, `It can't get any worse than this.'"

The lapses extended to the front-line players on special teams and defense, too.

Eagles punt returner Dexter Wynn ran untouched to score a 74-yard touchdown to open the scoring. And a series of missed tackles on defense allowed Philadelphia running back Brian Westbrook to turn a short pass in the flat into a 51-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

"We got gassed on one play because we put the play in last night," defensive end Terrell Suggs said. "You can't put a play in one day before you play a game, especially against the defending NFC champs. It just doesn't work out."

Boller finished 10-for-15 for 88 yards but only connected on four of nine passes for 31 yards against the Eagles' first-team defense.

Much like last week's opener when he was picked off on his first pass, Boller's night turned on his third attempt. Throwing off his back foot, he watched his pass sail into the arms of safety Michael Lewis.

Boller's next error came two series later when he delivered a pass flat-footed while facing a blitz up the middle, underthrowing Clarence Moore to get picked off by Brian Dawkins.

In the first 14 plays, the Ravens had two interceptions, a fumble by Chester Taylor (which was recovered by Jonathan Ogden), a delay-of game penalty and two knockdowns of Boller.

It was a first quarter that saw offensive coordinator Jim Fassel call all of his players into a sideline huddle and later have an extensive talk with Boller.

"We got off to a rough start," Fassel said. "They got some pressure on us and we made some mistakes."

The Ravens were missing four starters on offense: running back Jamal Lewis (ankle), tight end Todd Heap (ankle and shoulder), fullback Alan Ricard (calf) and left guard Edwin Mulitalo (personal reasons).

That didn't seem to matter to the crowd, which serenaded Boller and the offense with boos as they walked off the field.

"You hear them," Boller said. "That's part of the game. You have to keep your head up. There's always another play."

After leading 7-0 on Wynn's punt return, the Eagles reached the end zone early in the second quarter by exposing flaws in the Ravens' defense.

A drive that began with quarterback Donovan McNabb running 27 yards up the middle of the defense ended with Westbrook eluding three defenders for a touchdown, the first against the Ravens' starting defense this preseason.

Catching a pass in the right flat, he broke through an arm tackle by Chad Williams, raced past Ray Lewis and sidestepped a diving Chris McAlister. That put Philadelphia ahead 14-0 and capped the night for McNabb, who was 6-for-9 for 107 yards.

"We're all disappointed with the touchdown," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "[Westbrook] came loose and he was free. That's a mistake we can't have. It shouldn't happen. Give McNabb some credit. He handled our pressure well."

Turnovers by the Ravens' offense didn't result in Eagles points until Boller's final one.

Facing third-and-18 on his fifth series, Boller got hit by an unblocked Lewis, who swung the quarterback around and forced a fumble at the Ravens' 26-yard line. David Akers' 45-yard field goal then staked Philadelphia to a 17-0 lead five minutes into the second quarter.

The best drive by the Ravens' starting offense occurred against the Eagles' backups. Boller completed all five of his passes on his final series, hitting tight end Daniel Wilcox for a 5-yard touchdown. His first scoring pass of the preseason pulled the Ravens to within 17-7 with 1:55 left in the first half.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.