It was as if Doug Pederson filled up a balloon then, before the party goers at Lincoln Financial Field could enjoy it, the Eagles head coach put a pin in it.
Pederson ran his first-team offense onto the field against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night, with the exception of one major piece – quarterback Carson Wentz.
You could quibble that Corey Clement, who got plenty of work, isn’t the first-team running back or that the offensive line was missing Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks, but it was close enough.
Maybe Wentz would have helped deliver some points. As it was, the Eagles did nothing on offense with Cody Kessler getting the start and Josh McCown replacing him later in the first quarter and finishing the half. By the time the second quarter was over, the Eagles were already behind 26 points on their way to a 26-15 loss.
The game was called due to lightening with 11:43 to play.
It was the Ravens' 16th straight preseason win.
VIDEO: Josh McCown on his two TD throws
Ravens quarterback Trace McSorley, who looked dreadful during the two practices the teams held together earlier in the week, looked like he was playing again for Penn State, picking apart Big 10 Conference opponents like Rutgers and Illinois.
McSorley had a first half for the ages, sizzling along with a passer rating of 120.7 built on completing 16 of 24 passes with 203 yards two touchdowns and one rushing TD.
The second half got a bit better for the Eagles, as McCown settled in and the defense got a better handle on McSorley (who was just 3-for-4 with 0 yards in the third quarter before yielding to Joe Callahan), but it was too little, too late for an Eagles team that is now 1-2 in the preseason with e exhibition finale next week in North Jersey against the Jets.
Here are some takeaways from Thursday:
McCown was coaching high school quarterbacks in Charlotte, N.C. a week ago. And here he was dropping some dimes, looking every bit like the 18-year veteran that he is. Still, to turn around that quickly and finish 17-of-24 for 192 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 122.2
His first TD came on a third-and-15 throw from the 20, on a beautiful over-the-shoulder to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who made a nice stretching catch and got both feet down. That capped a seven-play, 57-yard drive that covered 57 yards in 3:12 and made the score 26-7 with 9:28 to play in the third quarter.
McCown’s second TD was a terrific throw over the middle with pressure in his face, the ball lending in the arms of tight end Alex Ellis for a 9-yard TD on second-and-goal. McCown was roughed on the play and a flag was thrown. The drive traveled 69 yards on 11 plays in 5:23 and made the score 26-13 with 2:38 to play in the third. Josh Adams ran the two-point conversion to make it 26-15.
Arcega-Whiteside had a break out game, with eight catches for 104 yards. Those are the kinds of numbers he should be able to put up once the regular season begins, if he gets the playing time. Finding that time may not be as easy as the preseason, when Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor rarely saw the field.
His best play came on fourth-and-one at midfield, when he got open with a nice route, made a nice pivot and picked up an additional 21 yards to set the Birds up at the 14.
Safety Rodney McLeod started opposite Malcolm Jenkins, a great sign that he will be ready for the season opener in two weeks. McLeod had four tackles in his quarter or work.
Presnap penalties continue to haunt the team. They had seven of them in the first half, two were declined. Jordan Mailata was called for two false starts and an illegal formation when he wasn’t lined up properly. There were also two on the defense - an offsides on linebacker Nate Gerry, the other on defensive end Josh Sweat.
There were also two penalties on kickoff returns, including a hold from Mack Hollins, and one on a punt when Markem Nichel ran out of bounds and came back to be the first one to touch the ball, which is a 15-yard infraction.
Overall, the Eagles had 15 penalties for 115 yards and that was only through three quarters. Baltimore had nine for 73.
Third down conversions, with the offense struggling to pick them up, and the defense having a hard time to stop them. In the first half, the Ravens converted five of eight of them. The Eagles were 1-for-7, and went six straight without a conversion.
Jake Elliott missed another chip shot. Last week, he missed from 40. Against the Ravens he was wide left from 40.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai once again looked comfortable at guard. On the Eagles’ first possession, he had a nice lead block to spring Clement (7 carries, 25 yards) for an 11-yard pickup on third-and-six. Frankly, he looks more comfortable at guard than tackle. Either way, he is becoming the perfect swing player this team needs.
Greg Ward is beginning to separate himself from Michel and Carlton Agudosi in the battle to try and be the last receiver kept on the roster, assuming Hollins makes it and the team goes with six pass catchers. Ward had four catches for 45 yards (11.3 yards per catch).
Rookie left tackle Andre Dillard had his first struggles as a pro. He was flagged three times, once for a false start, once for an illegal formation, and once for holding, his first such violation this preseason.