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Ravens play like they practiced in 40-17 preseason loss to Eagles

Ravens starters seriously struggled in the team's 40-17 preseason loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia.

There were times in the joint practices when the Philadelphia Eagles effortlessly moved the ball on the Ravens starting defense, while the Ravens starting offense remained bogged down in its own territory on the adjacent field.

But that was just practice, and this is just the preseason. That's about the only thing the Ravens could fall back on Saturday night as they were embarrassed by the Eagles, 40-17, in their second preseason game before an announced 69,596 at Lincoln Financial Field.

The starting offense didn't score in three possessions, and two of them ended with Joe Flacco, who didn't look sharp at all during the joint practices, being intercepted.

The defense allowed two touchdowns and a field goal on the Eagles' first three possessions, and the starters spent much of the first quarter with hands on their hips, lamenting the latest penalty called against their unit.

Not to be outdone, the special teams allowed Kenjon Barner to score on a 68-yard punt return, which gave the Eagles a 24-0 lead in the second quarter.

The teamwide breakdown included nine first-half penalties — an additional four flags were thrown on the Ravens but declined — a week after coach John Harbaugh praised his team for being called for just six penalties in its preseason-opening victory against the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens finished with 17 penalties for 139 yards.

“That wasn't the first half we wanted,” Harbaugh said. “We didn't do very much very well. Give them some credit; they made some plays in all three phases.”

And injury was added to insult as the Ravens watched offensive linemen James Hurst (head injury), Eugene Monroe (hand) and De'Ondre Wesley (knee) get hurt, and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro also left early to get his knee checked out.

Wesley, who entered the game early in the first quarter once Hurst went down, appears to have suffered the most serious injury. He couldn't put any weight on his left knee as he was helped to the locker room.

The injuries to Hurst, Monroe and Wesley — coupled with injuries that prevented Rick Wagner (leg), Kelechi Osemele (Achilles), Jah Reid (back), John Urschel (concussion) and undrafted rookies Darryl Baldwin and Blaine Clausell from dressing for the game — left the Ravens with just nine healthy offensive linemen by the end of the first quarter. Marshal Yanda, the Ravens' Pro Bowl right guard, had to move to right tackle.

Predictably, Harbaugh took no chances with Flacco, pulling him after three drives, and bringing in Matt Schaub, who was forced to play behind a mostly third-string offensive line.

The Ravens got off to a decent start offensively, moving to midfield on their first drive, mostly on the strength of their running game. But three plays after Taliaferro converted on fourth-and-1, Flacco was picked off in the end zone by Walter Thurmond. The pass, intended for a well-covered Kamar Aiken, hit cornerback Nolan Carroll (Maryland) in the shoulder, and was caught by Thurmond.

On the fourth play of the Ravens' second possession, Flacco sailed a throw over the head of Marlon Brown, who was open, and it was intercepted by one of the Eagles' high-priced free-agent acquisitions, Byron Maxwell.

The starting offense then got one first down on its first drive before a holding penalty on reserve tackle Marcel Jones forced them to punt. Flacco completed three of seven passes for 23 yards and the two interceptions, a quarterback rating of 11.9.

“Obviously, we had some injuries, but I think early on we were moving the ball,” Flacco said. “We then take a shot, and it gets picked off. On the next drive, we get a first down and a nice little run. Then we have a guy [Brown] open, and I miss him 5 feet high.

“We were looking pretty good at that point; we were moving the ball and were protecting well. Then, obviously, we had those mistakes by myself, and they set us back. We came out on the third series, and it just didn't look good. We were kind of scrambling because we had some guys go down in a hurry.”

As for the defense, it offered little resistance as the Eagles gained 217 yards in the first half.

“Penalties were killing us. It was a sloppy first quarter,” Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “Obviously, we are not game-planning for them, so they are going to have a lot of plays because we're not in the correct defense in the second preseason game. If this was a real game, we would game-plan against them. Instead, we were just running our basic scheme, and they were able to make the plays.”

After Flacco's first interception, the Eagles marched 84 yards on 11 plays behind quarterback Sam Bradford, who was playing in his first game in 364 days after missing all of last year with a knee injury. The drive, which ended when Ryan Mathews scampered into the end zone untouched on a 14-yard touchdown run, featured four Ravens penalties, three of them on rush linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Suggs was called for unnecessary roughness on an ill-advised low hit on Bradford, holding for a clothesline of Eagles tight end Brent Celek and offsides on Mathews' touchdown run.

Things didn't get much better for the Ravens defensive starters as the Eagles needed just five plays to punch the ball in after Flacco's second interception. DeMarco Murray, making his Eagles debut, ran up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown.

When Cody Parkey kicked a 21-yard field goal on Philadelphia's next possession to make it 17-0, the rout was officially on.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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