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Late For Work 12/19: Seven Eagles-Ravens Game Takeaways, Including Playoff Scenarios


Seven Eagles-Ravens Game Takeaways

If you're waking up this morning feeling like this, you're not alone.

Baltimore survived a near late-game collapse against the Philadelphia Eagles by breaking up a two-point conversion with four seconds remaining. The Ravens' 27-26 victory keeps their postseason hopes alive, with plenty of mistakes to correct.

Below are seven takeaways from the game:

1) Ravens' Playoff Scenarios

The division will come down to a Pittsburgh Steelers grudge match on Christmas day, just like we knew it would. Baltimore opened as a 5.5-point underdog.

"If you know what's good for you, you won't even think about what might have happened on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium," wrote Schmuck. "You'll just focus on the Ravens' upcoming showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Christmas day.

"That's what's important now."

The league will likely announce official playoff scenarios later today, but here's what we know for now …

AFC Leaders
1. New England Patriots (12-2)

  1. Oakland Raiders (11-3)
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
  1. Houston Texans (8-6)
  1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
  1. Miami Dolphins (9-5)

In The Hunt
7. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

  1. Tennessee Titans (8-6)
  1. Denver Broncos (8-6)

Baltimore moved into the No. 7 AFC spot because of the conference record tiebreaker over Denver and Tennessee. Zrebiec laid out the following scenarios:

  • The Ravens will win the AFC North … by winning out.
  • The Ravens will finish No. 2 in the AFC North … by losing to the Steelers, even if Pittsburgh falls to the Cleveland Browns in Week 17.
  • The Ravens would be eliminated from the playoffs … by losing to the Steelers AND the Dolphins beating the Buffalo Bills next week.
  • The Ravens could win a wild-card spot … by finishing 1-1 AND the Dolphins losing out AND the Texans, Broncos and Titans finishing 1-1. A single win by the Dolphins would prevent a wild-card spot for Baltimore.

Because the Ravens play on Christmas day, after most NFL games take place on Saturday, they will know whether the wild-card is a viable route. By then, they'll know the result of the Dolphins-Bills game.

2) Offensive Leadership Comes Under Fire

There's no way around the scrutiny.

Head Coach John Harbaugh, Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterback Joe Flacco are all taking lumps in the media for the "all-time worst call ever."

That's what Harbaugh called the decision to pass the ball with six minutes, 21 seconds remaining in the game with a 10-point lead and a first down from the 11-yard line. Instead of leaning on Sunday's 6.3-yard-per-carry run game, Mornhinweg called a pass and Flacco threw an interception that sparked an Eagles' comeback.

"I'll take responsibility for it," Harbaugh said after the win. "I should have vetoed it right away. I like an aggressive mindset, but that was way too aggressive. It's the worse play call we've had, and it's my fault. It should have never happened."

At worst, Baltimore could've run a couple of plays, while letting a few minutes bleed off the clock, and then brought out kicker Justin Tucker for a chip-shot field goal to go up 13 points.

All three men came under fire for their role in the near-disastrous outcome.

"Blame Mornhinweg for the way-too-aggressive play call and again abandoning the run," wrote The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "Blame Flacco for making an awful read and throw. And blame Harbaugh for not vetoing it. It was another Sunday in which the Ravens won in spite of their mistakes."

Luckily, the Ravens survived. All three leaders know they'll have to make better decisions to avoid nail-biting situations in the future.

3) Ravens' 'Distaste For Running The Football Is Baffling'

It appeared the Ravens weren't going to underutilize their running backs against the Philadelphia Eagles.

After getting just 13 combined attempts for 41 yards in New England last week, Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon carried the rock 22 times for 113 yards and a touchdown. West also added four catches for 45 yards.

Their success made the fourth-quarter interception even more upsetting.

"The Ravens' distaste for running the football is baffling," wrote's Clifton Brown. "When Marc Trestman was fired as offensive coordinator, the Ravens were supposed to make a stronger commitment to the run. It hasn't happened."

"No matter what the Ravens try to tell you or themselves, the numbers don't lie. They haven't been all that interested in running the football all year — even when they've done it well," wrote Jones. "They were lucky it didn't cost them their season on Sunday."

4) Tucker Becomes Most Accurate Kicker Of All-Time

Turns out, Tucker was a busy man Sunday.

If he wasn't tying NFL records, he was making new ones, and then trying to kill the overdone dab celebration by uncontrollably dabbing.

In addition to tying the NFL record for 10 field goals of at least 50 yards in a single season, Tucker assumed the title of the most accurate kicker in NFL history Sunday night.

Tucker has made 89.6 percent of his career kicks (163-of-182), while Bailey's rate dropped to 89.4 percent (169-of-189).

"One big difference between the kickers is that Tucker plays in tougher weather conditions in an outdoor stadium in Baltimore, while Bailey has the advantage of kicking inside for home games," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.

5) Someone Buy Mosley A Fruit Basket; Stanley Leads Offensive Grading

Not only was linebacker C.J. Mosley one of the heroes of the day by tipping quarterback Carson Wentz' pass on the Eagles' two-point conversion with four seconds remaining, but he was also the highest graded defensive player on the field, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).

Glenn Clark Radio suggested someone needs to buy Mosley a fruit basket for his game-sealing play.

Below are PFF's top-five graded Ravens defenders:

LB C.J. Mosley, 86.8

S Eric Weddle, 84.9

CB Jerraud Powers, 83.2

S Lardarius Webb, 81.7

CB Shareece Wright, 80.3

On the offensive side of the ball, rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley led the way. He is quietly improving after a foot injury derailed the beginning of his season.

"Make no mistake, the credit for this victory goes to the Ravens' offensive line," wrote PFF's Wes Huber. "The spotlight should be appropriately centered upon [Stanley] out of Notre Dame after submitting a third-straight game with an overall grade in the 80.0s, and his first game of the season where he didn't allow a single pressure during 34 snaps of protection. LG Marshal Yanda's (82.9) performance was also notable, as he and Stanley's combined efforts permitted RB Terrance West to accumulate 122 total yards at 7.2 yards per touch."

Below are PFF's top-five graded Ravens on offense:

LT Ronnie Stanley, 86.8

LG Marshal Yanda, 82.9

FB Kyle Juszczyk, 82.7

C Jeremy Zuttah, 80.6

WR Mike Wallace, 72.2

6) Ravens Run Defense Gets A Wake-Up Call

Perhaps the most surprising thing of the day was the Ravens' No. 1 rush defense getting gashed for 169 yards. Running back Ryan Mathews went off for a season-high 128 rushing yards and a touchdown.

That's not exactly a good sign with the Steelers and Le'Veon Bell up next on the schedule.

"The Ravens' run defense got a wakeup call," wrote Brown. "If the Ravens had this much trouble stopping Mathews, how will they deal with Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell on Christmas?"

PFF gave props to the Eagles offensive line for excellent blocking up front.

"The credit for nearly pulling off the upset goes to the offensive line," Huber wrote. "LT Jason Peters (82.8) and C Jason Kelce (82.3) earned the game's highest run-blocking grades, and neither allowed a sack in pass protection."

7) Keep An Eye On Potential Suggs Elbow Injury

Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs didn't speak with reporters after the game because he needed  to see a team doctor, according to Hensley.

"It appeared as if he injured his right elbow, but he finished the game," he wrote.

Suggs is already playing with a torn left biceps, but it's a good sign that he never left the game.

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