Before he went down for the team pre-game meal, rookie quarterback Trace McSorley picked up his phone and saw two missed calls: one from Head Coach John Harbaugh and another from Quarterbacks Coach James Urban.
“I was like, ‘Eh oh, what’s going on?’” McSorley said.
The Ravens decided to give Lamar Jackson the night off. Robert Griffin III is still sidelined by a broken bone in his hand. That meant McSorley got the news that he was going to carry the load Thursday night in Philadelphia.
McSorley rose to the occasion, putting together an impressive performance that makes the decision on whether he should get a spot on the 53-man roster more intriguing.
“Our offense was going against their starting defense for most of the first half. I thought they did a good job. I thought Trace did a heck of a job against those guys,” Harbaugh said.
“I thought he was very poised. Made a lot of plays on the move, extended some plays and made them, made some good throws. I thought the O-line did a good job protecting him, too. Yeah, he played really well.”
McSorley’s path to the roster began via special teams. But after Griffin’s hand injury, and considering McSorley’s level of play under center, he may just earn a third quarterback spot because of his offensive potential.
The sixth-round pick out of Penn State notched three touchdowns – two passing, one rushing – in the first half. He was 16-of-24 for 203 yards and a 120.7 quarterback rating at halftime, giving the Ravens a 26-0 lead. The third quarter wasn’t as pretty, but it didn’t overshadow his night.
McSorley scored his first touchdown with his legs, taking on three Eagles defenders on the goal line to finish off a 4-yard touchdown run. McSorley lowered his shoulder and extended his right arm over the goal line as he twisted to the turf.
His second touchdown was the best looking of the bunch. McSorley threw a perfect 28-yard pass to veteran wide receiver Michael Floyd, dropping it in a bucket over Floyd’s outside shoulder.
McSorley’s third touchdown was also picture-perfect. He lofted a pass high and to the back shoulder of 6-foot-5 wide receiver Jaleel Scott, who used his size to box out the Eagles defender and haul in the touchdown with just a few seconds left in the half.
The plays have shown the growth McSorley has made since stepping into the No. 2 spot following Griffin’s injury. The extra reps have clearly paid off.
“I think it’s been extremely beneficial,” McSorley said. “Just getting in there and really seeing things live is a big difference than watching film or standing back and getting the mental reps. When you get in there and see it live, it’s different. And really having to deal with the ups and downs of games and things like that.”
McSorley had a tough end to Monday’s joint practice with the Eagles when he was picked off on back-to-back passes. He wanted to get that taste out of his mouth before he left Philadelphia, which is not terribly far from where he played his college ball.
“Just wanted to bounce back from practice,” McSorley said. “As a team, really as an offense, we didn’t feel great how that practice ended. Getting back to playing winning football and protecting the football, that was a big deal coming into this week.”