Both the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles turned in performances that made their fans nauseous on Sunday. The Ravens turned the ball over every other time their offense touched the field in a 23-20 loss at Buffalo, while the Eagles failed in all three phases of the game and were routed by Denver 52-20. Frankly, both teams were difficult to watch.
Joe Flacco endured a miserable afternoon. The University of Delaware product completed just 50 percent of his passes and threw five interceptions. Some of Flacco’s misfires were the result of pressure, but others were just horrific throws. He was trying to squeeze balls into miniscule windows, and his team kept paying the price.
In Flacco’s defense, Baltimore was forced to completely abandon its running attack in the second half. The Ravens ran 33 offensive plays in the third and fourth quarters and 31 times they dropped back to throw the football. That was despite the fact that Ray Rice returned from injury. Baltimore finished the day with only 24 yards on the ground.
As a result, its quarterback was left to throw 50 passes, and it did not turn out well. Flacco took responsibility for the loss afterward and he should. You simply cannot give the ball away that many times and expect to be successful. Flacco asked for and received big money during the offseason. He is getting paid like an elite quarterback, and those kinds of guys don’t suffer through those types of days.
Still, the Ravens have to be more balanced and they have to be more effective running the football. Rice makes a lot of money too and his performance in Buffalo was putrid. In fact, it was so dreadful that it was hard to explain—especially considering it came against a Bills defense that yielded 182 yards on the ground to the Jets the week prior. Baltimore is built to be big and physical offensively. They were neither on Sunday; instead, they were just bad.
Speaking of bad, the Eagles were that and then some in Denver. You knew Philly was going to have a tough time dealing with Peyton Manning. The Birds entered their week-four trip to Denver with the 30th-ranked defense in the NFL and had very little success historically against Manning.
Well, history repeated itself on Sunday, as the Broncos torched Philadelphia for seven touchdowns and a field goal. The 52 points allowed were the most by an Eagles defense in 41 years.
The defense was awful, but more concerning were Philly’s issues on offense and special teams.
Denver scored on a 105-yard kickoff return in the second quarter and a blocked punt early in the final period. In a game against the best offense in the NFL, points by anyone other than the offense are lethal. Even worse was the Eagles’ inability to move the ball in the second half.
The Birds struggled in the red zone in the opening half, but racked up yards and, as a result, remained competitive. When the yards stopped accumulating in the third quarter, Philly’s hopes were dashed. What happened to the offense that was the talk of the NFL in the season opener? The Broncos defense is good, but not so good that Chip Kelly’s supposedly high-powered attack shouldn’t be able to manage more than 40 total yards in the third period.
If the Eagles can’t score, they won’t win. The only silver lining for Kelly’s crew is that the schedule gets much easier over the next month. Philadelphia’s first four opponents have a combined record of 11-5, while its next five foes have three wins collectively.
The Birds have to face a Manning twice over that stretch, but luckily it is Eli, not Peyton. After Sunday, Kelly and company do not want to see the elder Manning again anytime soon. Still, if they don’t start scoring more points in the near future, Philly won’t be able to beat Archie Manning.