Ravens stay alive with white-knuckle win over Eagles

The Ravens (8-6) remain alive in the race for the AFC North with Sunday's 27-26 win over the fading Eagles (5-9). Here's what we learned from Baltimore's last-second victory over Philadelphia:

  1. Down 27-26 with four ticks left on the clock, the Eagles hung major onions on Sunday, dialing up a two-point conversion in hopes of winning the game outright. No dice, though, as Carson Wentz's lob to wideout Jordan Matthews fell to the lifeless dirt.

I thought Wentz played some of his best football during a first-half stretch against Washington last week. That didn't translate to Sunday, with the Eagles rookie quarterback battling falling rain, gusting winds and a feisty Ravens secondary to throw for just 43 yards in the first half. Wentz showed promise leading Philly to two fourth-quarter scoring drives, but he finished the game at a ridiculous 4.0 yards per attempt. With Baltimore's secondary locking down passing lanes, Wentz -- 22-of-42 for 170 yards -- was repeatedly forced into second- and third-read checkdowns when he wasn't fleeing Baltimore's active pass rush. The No. 2 overall pick was coaxed into a killer interception on his first pass attempt and nearly threw another in the third quarter. It's been a long season for the rookie, but you still see moments of arm strength, athleticism and playmaking to suggest a bright future. A full offseason should work wonders.

  1. Ravens fans will question why Baltimore dialed up a risky first-down pass play at Philly's 11-yard line with just over six minutes to play. Up 27-17, the Ravens were in fine position to milk the clock and -- at worst -- kick a field goal. Instead, quarterback Joe Flacco tossed a pass toward the end zone that was picked off by linebacker Jordan Hicks to set up a field-goal march that brought Philly within a touchdown. Flacco also hurt the Ravens with a first-half fumble at his own 8-yard line that triggered a quick seven points for the Eagles. These mistakes are partly why Flacco came into the game ranked 25th in passer rating, but the veteran looked good unfurling a brilliant 34-yard touchdown strike to Steve Smith just before the half. The Ravens need more of this.
  1. Wentz is a work in progress, but you have to like his chemistry with Zach Ertz, who hauled down six grabs for 80 yards. Still, this passing game was largely a mess on Sunday, leaving the Eagles to hand Ryan Mathews a heavy workload on the ground. The veteran back piled up an admirable 128 yards against a Baltimore defense that came into the game allowing a league-best 75.5 yards per tilt. Only Isaiah Crowell has done more damage to the Ravens this season, running for 133 yards way back in Week 2.
  1. The Ravens promised to bring more balance on offense. They delivered with a season-high 151 yards on the ground led by Terrance West (13/77) and the emergent Kenneth Dixon (9/36). The rookie Dixon carried the Ravens on his back during a critical third-quarter scoring march that saw him dent the Eagles with a rash of white-knuckle runs capped by a 16-yard touchdown burst to put Baltimore up 27-17 with 11 minutes to go.
  1. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that Eagles coach Doug Pederson is safe heading into next season. Pederson's pressing priority is clear: Find weapons to help Wentz thrive on days like today. As for the Ravens, they find themselves one game behind the Steelers (9-5), who they visit on Christmas Day before finishing the year at home against the Bengals. Anything could happen.
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