Here are some observations and ruminations about Sunday's Eagles victory over the Ravens:
During the days leading to the game, much of the talk centered on the Ravens' no-huddle offense.
Well, the Eagles unleashed a hurry-up offense of their own. On the first drive, quarterback Michael Vick called plays at the line, and the Birds marched down the field. The series, of course, ended with Vick's first interception, but the offense had some success.
The Eagles brought it out later in the game, and, when they needed it on the game-winning drive, Vick ran the no-huddle effortlessly.
DeSean Jackson has always been an emotional player, and those emotions were apparent in the first half. Jackson and Ravens cornerback Cary Williams tangled in a fight in the second quarter, and both were charged with personal fouls. Two plays later, Jackson made a catch against Williams and demonstratively signaled for a first down. After the play, Andy Reid called Jackson over to the sideline to talk to him.
On the Ravens' first touchdown, fullback Vonta Leach ran through an enormous hole on the right side after Jason Babin shot upfield at the quarterback. When Babin pursues the quarterback there is supposed to be a linebacker or safety there to fill that gap. But there wasn't anyone remotely near as the Baltimore line had tremendous push inside.
Babin didn't have his best game. The defensive end was later called for roughing the passer on third down and long.
After last week's lopsided play-calling in favor of the pass, the Eagles had a more balanced attack Sunday. Vick dropped back to throw 39 times, significantly fewer than the 60 dropbacks he had against the Browns. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, meanwhile, called for 34 runs, with LeSean McCoy getting 25 carries for 81 tough yards. Vick scrambled seven times, and completed 23 of 32 passes.
Pressure by Graham
Brandon Graham was in for only four snaps at defensive end last week, seemingly an indication that Graham is low on the depth chart. Reid said they were productive snaps, and Graham hoped to earn more this week. He made a good case in the second quarter on Sunday when he pressured Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on a critical third down, forcing Flacco to throw into the flat.
For Graham to prove he was not a draft bust, he needs more plays like that.
Contrary to how they used to play when Asante Samuel defended the left side of the secondary, the Eagles let Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha shadow one specific receiver.
Rodgers-Cromartie had the equally fast Torrey Smith, while Asomugha mostly covered Anquan Boldin. But when Boldin lined up in the slot, as he often does, rookie corner Brandon Boykin took the wideout.
On one such play, Asomugha had Jacoby Jones went he split wide in the second quarter. Jones muscled Asomugha off the line, and Flacco lofted a perfect pass over the corner for a 21-yard score. Later, it looked like Jones beat Asomugha again for a 25-yard TD in the fourth, but the receiver was called for pass interference.
Not so special
One reason why the Ravens were able to tack on three points at the end of the first half was a pair of special teams miscues that cost the Eagles.
The first came after the Eagles forced a punt with 1 minute, 15 seconds remaining in the half. Instead of letting the ball bounce, returner Damaris Johnson caught the punt at the 3-yard line and returned it to the 6-yard line, a clear error by the rookie.
That set the Eagles back in their own end. And when they needed to punt, Chas Henry could only unleash a 38-yarder, and the Ravens were in range for a field goal.
Brown is No. 2
If there had been any question about who the Eagles' backup running back was heading into Sunday, Andy Reid made it clear that rookie Bryce Brown was ahead of Dion Lewis, a healthy scratch.
After the game, it wasn't quite as obvious. Brown fumbled the handoff on his second carry of the day, with the Eagles facing third and 1 at the Ravens' 20. It was a questionable call for several reasons. McCoy had two straight carries for a total of 7 yards on the previous plays. And, well, Brown hadn't shown that he could handle that moment. He had only three carries in college from 2010 to '11. He already ran twice in the opener. This time, Brown bungled the handoff from Vick, and the Eagles lost possession again deep in Ravens territory. Reid did go back to Brown one more time in the third quarter, and he didn't fumble.