The entire city of Baltimore had to hold on for dear life as the Ravens (8-6) barely defeated the Philadelphia Eagles (5-9).
The game started off in Baltimore’s favor. Ravens linebacker Zachary Orr read Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz’s eyes and picked him off at the 13:32 mark in the first quarter. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco would capitalize on Wentz’s blunder, and threw a touchdown to wide receiver Kamar Aiken at the 11:38 mark.
After an Eagles field goal and later on in the first quarter, the Ravens brought out the trick book. They dialed up a jet sweep from the newly returned Michael Campanaro. Campanaro scampered 39-yards, for what was at the time, the longest rushing play in the 2016 season. The Ravens would finish the drive off with a 53-yard Justin Tucker field goal at the 1:55 mark. Tucker actually had to kick the ball through the wind, making his long field goal even more impressive.
In the next Ravens drive, Flacco was strip sacked and the ball was recovered by the Eagles at about the seven and a half yard line. Eagles running back Ryan Mathews ran into the endzone to put the game at 10-9 at the 14:38 mark in the second quarter. The Eagles made a gutsy decision and rushed Mathews once again for the two-point conversion. The Eagles would then be up with the score 11-10.
After a field goal from each team, the score sat at 14-13 Eagles, but the Ravens had an ace up their sleeve. Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. left the game for a few plays after landing awkwardly on his arm. He would return to catch a 34-yard touchdown pass from Flacco, with only :10 remaining in the first half. After Tucker converted the extra-point, the Ravens lead 20-14 at halftime.
When the Ravens came out of the locker room for the second half, running back Terrance West had huge 41-yard rush, which now sits as the Ravens’ longest run of the season. However, the Ravens couldn’t capitalize and the Eagles got the ball back. Philadelphia would go on to kick a field goal, with the score 20-17 Ravens. On the ensuing drive, Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon ran the ball for a 16-yard touchdown with 11:06 left in the fourth quarter. The score was now 27-17 Ravens.
Ravens wideout Mike Wallace would make a huge grab in a later Ravens possession. He was forced out at the Eagles 11-yard line, putting the game in the hands of Flacco, who didn’t throw a pick the entire game up until that point. Then, Flacco tried to force the ball through a number of Eagles defenders and was picked off. With 6:12 left, the Eagles took over at their own 40-yard line. They would later convert a field goal.
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh talked about the play call after the game.
“All-time worst call ever. I’ll take responsibility for it,” Harbaugh said. “I should have vetoed it right away.”
Harbaugh would cite being aggressive as the culprit of his play call.
“I like an aggressive mindset, but that was way too aggressive,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the worse play call we’ve had, and it’s my fault. It should have never happened. We should have never been in that situation as a result of that.”
The biggest discussion after the game was that the Ravens should’ve called a different play. Flacco explained after the game why he went through with the call.
“I got it and was thinking, ‘Shoot, Marty’s (Mornhinweg) giving me one here. We’re going to get another touchdown pass,’” Flacco said. “But you’ve got to just take care of the football and it’s a non-issue.”
In crunch time, the Eagles came to play. Eagles tight end Zach Ertz made a toe-tapping, trapeze artist, type of grab along the sideline. This set up a Wentz rushing touchdown, that would have allowed the Eagles to tie the game if they had kicked the field goal. Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson had something else in mind. Down 26-27, he decided that he would go for the win. Ravens Jerraud Powers made a great play to break up a two-point conversion pass. The Ravens would leave the field victorious in a 27-26 win.
Baltimore has a chance to win the division and sneak into the playoffs if they defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers next week and the Cincinnati Bengals on New Years.
“I’m sure it’s what everyone wants,” quarterback Flacco said about upcoming Christmas Day matchup against the Steelers. “We’re up for the challenge. It’s going to be a fun day, going in there on Christmas, into Pittsburgh, into that environment.”