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Eagles' comeback without Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz comes up just short in loss to Ravens

Martin Frank
Delaware News Journal

PHILADELPHIA – And then there were two.

As in, two starters left on offense for the Eagles after running back Miles Sanders left with a knee injury in the third quarter, followed shortly thereafter by Zach Ertz with an ankle injury.

That left quarterback Carson Wentz and center Jason Kelce as the only healthy starters, and even though were banged up.

Yet that's when the Eagles put together a frantic comeback from 16 points down with 7:12 down.

"Guys were out there fighting their (butts) off," Kelce said.

Or as Wentz put it: "When your backs are against the wall, you just cut it loose and play."

So, incredibly, the Eagles had a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion after Wentz snuck in from the 1 yard line with 1:55 left.

Eagles fans react to a Carson Wentz sack Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens 30-28.

But the Ravens stopped the poorly-executed read-option with Wentz and running back Boston Scott, and the Eagles never got another chance in their 30-28 loss on Sunday in front of about 5,000 or so socially-distanced fans.

"I can do better as far as getting the play in and giving our guys a better opportunity, play-call-wise in that situation," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said about the two-point conversion. "It was my decision to go with that play call. So that's on me."

Eagles' Miles Sanders (26) breaks downfield during the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens 30-28.

The Eagles fell to 1-4-1, one game behind the Dallas Cowboys, who play Monday night.

The Eagles, however, will have to recover quickly with a game Thursday night against the Giants (1-5).

Still, it was a valiant attempt by Wentz, who overcame a depleted offensive line, was sacked six times and hit 16 times overall. Wentz finished 21 of 40 for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns. He didn't throw an interception for the first time this season, although he did lose a fumble that led to a Ravens touchdown.

"Carson is the type of guy that's going to put the team on his back, especially when we're faced with adversity," Pederson said. "He wants the ball in his hands all the time."

But the Eagles got off to a terrible start. There were two dropped passes that should have resulted in touchdowns. The Eagles didn't score on either occasion.

The first came when rookie John Hightower dropped a deep pass on the third play of the game that, at the very least, would have gone for 48 yards. It really should've been an 88-yard touchdown reception.

Sanders dropped a pass in the end zone at the end of the first half that would've gone for a 21-yard TD.

And the Eagles couldn't even get their first first down of the game until 5 minutes remained in the first half. 

"To put that performance out there in the first half, we've got to be better, plain and simple," Wentz said. "We gotta execute better."

Everything started to change when quarterback Jalen Hurts, the Eagles' second-round pick, made his first appearance. He lined up in the shotgun and ran for 20 yards, nearly doubling the Eagles' yardage total up until that point.

Eagles' Jalen Hurts (2) turns away from a tackle from Baltimore's Pernell McPhee (90) Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens 30-28.

The Eagles proceeded down the field, reaching the Ravens' 21 with a 2nd-and-2, with Hurts in for several of those plays. The Eagles were eventually stopped on fourth down.

"Jalen was making people look silly out there," Eagles receiver Travis Fulgham said. 

In fact, Sanders' 74-yard run came when Wentz faked a reverse to Hurts just after handing the ball off to Sanders running up the middle. Sanders fumbled the ball at the 7 and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside recovered in the end zone.

Sanders had 118 yards rushing on just 9 carries, just four yards short of his career high.

Eagles' Carson Wentz (11) walks to the bench after being sacked on third down Sunday agaisnt the Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field.

Then Wentz really got it going.

Trailing 30-14 and facing a 4th-and-9 from the Ravens' 18, Wentz scrambled and threw a desperation high arching pass into the end zone that Fulgham leaped to catch with three defenders around him.

That made it 30-22 with 3:48 left.

The Eagles got the ball back with 3:02 left, and on the first play, Wentz went deep to Fulgham. Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters was called for pass interference, and the Eagles were at the Ravens' 22.

The Eagles eventually scored, and missed their chance to tie, unable to overcome their early mistakes.

It began like this: Wentz was sacked on the first play. He was hit again as he dumped the ball off to Sanders, and Sanders was tackled for a 6-yard loss. Then Wentz threw deep to a wide open Hightower. The perfectly-thrown ball hit Hightower in the chest and bounced away.

The Ravens made the Eagles pay for their mistakes.

Lamar Jackson hit former University of Delaware star tight end Nick Boyle for a 7-yard touchdown. Baltimore made it 14-0 after a Wentz fumble gave the Ravens the ball at the Eagles' 28, leading to Gus Edwards' 7-yard run up the middle.

Eagles' Nickell Robey-Coleman (31) grabs the Ravens' Miles Boykin (80) Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

It was 17-0 after a Justin Tucker field goal, and the socially-distanced fans could be heard booing.

Jackson answered Arcega-Whiteside's touchdown with a 37-yard TD run midway through the third quarter to give the Ravens what seemed like a safe 24-6 lead. Jackson finished with 186 yards passing and 108 yards rushing.

The Eagles made it interesting, only to fall short.

No wonder Pederson replied, when asked about his team's 1-4-1 record: "That's right where we should be, 1-4-1."

Hurts, Wentz try razzle dazzle play

Hurts and Wentz tried a nifty trick play late in the first half, when Hurts lined up in the shotgun formation, threw backwards to Wentz on the right sideline. Wentz then threw all the away back across the field to Hurts, who caught it and turned up field.

For all of that, the Eagles gained three yards.

In all, Hurts got in for about eight plays or so, finishing with 23 yards rushing and the 3 yards receiving. He did not attempt a pass. 

Not good start for Jamon Brown, O-line

Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell had a field day going against Jamon Brown, who was playing right guard in place of Pryor, who's on the NFL's COVID-19 list. Campbell had 3 sacks Sunday, at least two of them while matched up on Brown.

Injuries continued to mount as Jack Driscoll, filling in for Lane Johnson at right tackle, had to leave the game with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Brett Toth replaced Driscoll. He had never played in an NFL game before.

DeSean expected back Thursday

DeSean Jackson missed his third straight game Sunday, but he is expected to return for the Eagles' next game in four days against the Giants, according to an ESPN report.

Jackson has been out with a hamstring injury. He was one of six starters missing the game Sunday against the Ravens.

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Eagles' Travis Fulgham warms up before facing the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Lincoln Financial Field.

The others who didn't play are fellow wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (foot), who has yet to play this season, right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle), CB Avonte Maddox (ankle), LB Duke Riley (ribs) and S Marcus Epps (rib). 

UD's Nick Boyle has big game for Ravens

Baltimore's Nick Boyle (86) makes his way off the ground Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens 30-28.

Tight end Nick Boyle, who played at the University of Delaware, had 3 receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown for the Ravens. Boyle's TD reception was his second of the season. It came in the first quarter on a 7-yard pass from Jackson.

Boyle's 33 yards receiving eclipsed his total of 30 yards through the first five games. Boyle has 9 catches for 63 yards and 2 TDs this season.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.