The Philadelphia Eagles kicked off their 2023 preseason with a narrow 20-19 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night. Both teams rested their starters, including quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson, providing valuable game experience for the backups and rookies.
Second-year quarterback Anthony Brown got the start for the Eagles, while veteran Josh Johnson took the first snaps for Baltimore. The Ravens came into the game boasting an incredible 24-game preseason winning streak, last losing in 2015. Philadelphia tested that streak but came up just short after a late defensive touchdown by Baltimore.
The Ravens drove into Eagles’ territory on the opening drive, but came up empty after three straight incompletions forced a field goal attempt that sailed wide. Philadelphia responded with a long drive capped off by a 45-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 advantage.
Baltimore’s defense tightened up after that, forcing a quick three-and-out. Ravens backup QB Tyler Huntley entered the game and led an impressive 13-play, 75 yard scoring drive. His 10-yard touchdown pass to wideout Tylan Wallace gave Baltimore their first lead at 7-3.
The Eagles answered right back, marching down the field behind the rushing of Rashaad Penny and a key scramble by QB Ian Book. Running back Trey Sermon punched it in from two yards out to put Philadelphia back on top 10-7. But the Ravens had the final say of the first half when kicker Justin Tucker nailed a 60-yard field goal as time expired to make it 10-9 Eagles at the break.
In the third quarter, Huntley remained hot, driving Baltimore inside the Eagles’ 5-yard line before finding tight end Josh Oliver in the end zone from 10 yards out. A successful extra point made it 17-10 Ravens.
Philadelphia struggled to move the ball after halftime. An interception by Baltimore cornerback Kevon Seymour gave the Ravens another short field. They capitalized with a 43-yard field goal by Tucker to stretch their lead to 20-10.
Down by 10 in the fourth, the Eagles finally broke through when quarterback Ian Book’s pass was picked off by cornerback Eli Ricks and returned 31 yards for a defensive touchdown. However, Philadelphia’s two-point try failed, leaving them still trailing 20-19.
With time winding down, Book drove the Eagles into Ravens’ territory looking for the game-winning score. But Baltimore held strong, stopping them on 4th down to get the ball back. Newly signed running back Melvin Gordon and the Ravens were able to run out the clock from there to secure their 24th straight preseason victory.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Nick Sirianni was pleased with his team’s effort. “A lot of guys got meaningful reps tonight against a quality opponent,” he said. “We competed hard and I saw some good things that we can build on going forward.”
Some key takeaways from the Eagles’ perspective:
- Running backs Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell were held out, allowing Rashaad Penny, Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks to handle the carries. Penny looked sharp, displaying quickness on his runs. The Eagles backfield remains crowded heading into the regular season.
- Top wideouts A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith were rested. Former first-round pick Jalen Reagor saw extended action but had an otherwise quiet night. Undrafted rookie Britain Covey flashed as a potential punt return option.
- On defense, first-round rookie Jordan Davis made his debut at defensive tackle and brought his trademark power and strength. Cornerbacks James Bradberry and Darius Slay sat out, giving backups like Josiah Scott valuable reps.
- Kicker Jake Elliott went 2/2 on field goals, including a 49-yard make. He remains reliable as ever.
The Eagles have two more preseason tilts to continue evaluating their younger talent before gearing up for the regular season opener on September 11th against the Detroit Lions. They appear to be gelling nicely as a team despite the defeat.