Friday, August 12, 2011

Eagles take preseason opener vs. Ravens

Michael Vick capped his only drive with a touchdown pass to Brent Celek, and the Philadelphia Eagles kept the Baltimore Ravens out of the end zone en route to a 13-6 victory in the preseason opener for both teams.

Vick connected on 4-of-6 passes for 74 yards in limited action for the Eagles, who lost to the Packers in the NFC Wild Card round last year but added several big-name free agents in a lockout-affected offseason.

Joe Flacco played two series for the Ravens and finished with 60 yards on 3- of-6 throws, while rookie Tyrod Taylor was intercepted twice and threw incomplete on 4th-and-goal in the final minute.

Flacco, who took the Ravens to the AFC Divisional round last season, shook off a big hit from Cullen Jenkins on the game's first snap and brought Baltimore close enough for Billy Cundiff to attempt 53-yarder that bounced off the left upright and through the goal posts for a 3-0 lead.

Vick was playing without either of Philadelphia's top wide receivers. DeSean Jackson ended his training camp holdout earlier this week and was on the sideline in street clothes, while Jeremy Maclin returned to his hometown to undergo medical tests on an as-yet undiagnosed malady.

Nevertheless, the Eagles went 80 yards on their first touch. Riley Cooper's 42-yard catch highlighted the march, which Vick ended by firing a three-yard laser to Celek just past the goal line.

"It was good to get back and to get out there to have an opportunity to just play against another defense. We play against our defense every day in practice, they blitz us every day and we just wanted to play against somebody else," Vick said.

Most of the starters for the perennial playoff contenders did not play past the first quarter, allowing the backups to showcase their talents.

A Vince Young-led 15-play, 68-yard drive resulted in a 35-yard field goal by rookie Alex Henery five minutes into the second. Young, signed by Philadelphia just two weeks ago, threw just five passes and completed three for 45 yards.

Mike Kafka saw the majority of snaps in the second half for the Eagles and ended with 132 yards and an interception on 13-of-19 efficiency.

Henery and Cundiff exchanged field goals in the final 30 minutes to account for the final score.

“I don’t think it was any different than the normal first preseason game of the season," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "We cut things back a little bit like we normally do for the first game anyway. I was worried about the substitutions during the game and then the assignments once we got into the two’s, three’s and four’s. It looked like we were at least getting the calls in at the right positions and guys were lining up right for the most part. That’s a tribute to the players and the coaches for preparing. We have to build on it and expand this thing and get a little bit more in next week. We’ll be on the road, so that will be another challenge.”

Philadelphia's Chad Hall led all receivers with five catches for 82 yards, while Baltimore's Jalen Parmele topped all running backs with 35 yards on seven carries. Taylor also added 59 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, the Eagles revamped defensive line was very impressive, registering six sacks.

“To be a good defense, you have to be able to generate pressure with your front four guys if you’re a 4-3 team, and if you’re a 3-4 front team with your front five guys," Reid said. "You have to generate it from there and then add the blitz in as a wrinkle. If you’re going to blitz every down in this league you’re going to be in trouble. It doesn’t work that way. I thought [defensive coordinator] Juan [Castillo] did a nice job of managing his first game here and calling it. It didn’t look like we had substitutions problems at all. I thought he handled the mechanics of it very well.”

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