Trace McSorley threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another as the Ravens extended their preseason winning streak to 16 with a rain-shortened 26-15 win against the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 22.
The Ravens jumped to a 26-0 halftime lead before giving up a pair of third-quarter touchdowns. Rain and lightning moved into the area in the fourth quarter, and the game was suspended with 11:43 remaining before eventually being sensibly canceled.
Receivers Michael Floyd and Jaleel Scott caught touchdown passes for the Ravens, who have not lost a preseason game since 2015.
The Ravens close out the preseason on Aug. 29 at the Washington Redskins, and then must slash their roster to 53 players two days later.
Here are five observations of the Ravens abbreviated win:
1. The NFL's preseason model is broken. Fans deserve better.
Fans at the game in Philadelphia didn't get to see Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson or Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Green Bay starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn't play last week in Baltimore. In the preseason opener, Jacksonville rested starting quarterback Nick Foles along with nearly every other starter against the Ravens, who sat their entire starting secondary and many other starters as well. Next week in Washington, almost no starter from either team will suit up.
The NFL has a lot of nerve to try to pass this off as a legitimate product.
It's become increasingly clear that teams value joint practices far more than these games. Take the week the Jaguars came to town. For two days, Ravens receivers matched up in 1-on-1 drills against Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Myles Jack and other top-tier talent. Likewise, Ravens defenders got to match wits with Foles, running back Leonard Fournette and other starters, none of whom played in the actual game two days later.
Whether the league ultimately gets the 18-game regular season it badly wants, it's become increasingly obvious that a four-game preseason is a broken concept.
Don't look know, but there's still one preseason game left.
2. Trace McSorley showed the growth he's made this summer.
McSorley began training camp as the No. 3 quarterback behind Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III, an intriguing, athletic sixth-round rookie who could potentially add a different dimension on special teams. Then Griffin injured his throwing hand, and McSorley was thrust into a larger role, taking more reps in training camp and game situations than he would have otherwise.
His growth was apparent against the Eagles. After struggling in joint practices in Philadelphia, McSorley put together his finest work of the summer in the first half, going 16-for-24 for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and he also ran for a hard-earned 4-yard score. His best throw was a 28-yard touchdown pass he lofted to Michael Floyd.
Griffin is expected to be healthy for the regular season, which would bump McSorley back to the No. 3 quarterback spot. Depending on injuries, keeping a third quarterback on the roster might be a luxury the Ravens can't afford, but games like this show McSorley's growth and make it less likely McSorley would clear waivers should the Ravens cut him with thoughts of re-signing him to the practice squad.
3. It was an encouraging debut for Marquise Brown.
The Ravens finally got to see first-round draft pick Marquise Brown in action, as the receiver made his preseason debut as he continues to work back from offseason Lisfranc (foot) surgery.
Brown had a modest outing, with three catches for 17 yards, one rush on a jet sweep for a 4-yard loss and a two-point conversion catch wiped out by penalty. Brown has spoken lately of knocking the rust off a little more each day, and that was the case against the Eagles. It's understandable if the Ravens choose to rest Brown next week in the preseason finale, but given his limited workload, they might opt to play him for a bit, as they did with Breshad Perriman a few years ago when an injury had slowed his summer progress.
The Ravens have mapped out a cautious, patient plan with Brown, but his level of involvement against the Eagles is an encouraging sign that he will be ready to contribute in Week 1.
4. Michael Floyd is making a late roster push.
Three weeks ago, the veteran receiver seemed buried down the depth chart, seemingly the seventh or eighth option for a team that isn't likely to carry more than six receivers. But since then, Seth Roberts has been sidelined by an injury, undrafted rookie Antoine Wesley's star has dimmed and Floyd has elevated his play in practice and in games.
He caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from McSorley against the Eagles that was perfectly placed and finished with a team-high three catches for 54 yards. Without a significant special teams role, Floyd still faces a tough path to the 53-man roster, but Roberts' injury could open the door.
5. The Ravens' run defense is in midseason form.
The Eagles ran 18 times for 47 yards, an average of 2.6 yards a carry. Starter Brandon Williams didn't play, but Patrick Ricard, Michael Pierce, Chris Wormley and others made the going tough, especially inside. The Packers last week carried 18 times for 55 yards (3.1 avg.), with more than half of that total coming on one play.
To be sure, it's foolhardy to read too much into preseason statistics when so many key players sit out. But the Ravens were stout against the run last year (No. 4 overall) and should be again. Ricard in particular has been one of the more impressive players in camp, working as a fullback and a defensive lineman and
fully accepting the challenge
after being a game day inactive the last month of last season.
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Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox