Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2004

Ravens’ defense could be tough test for Eagles’ offense

October 31, 2004


— Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens and the entire Philadelphia offense have been unstoppable at times this season.

Led by Ray Lewis, Baltimore's defense has been nearly impenetrable.

One of those units will earn bragging rights when the Eagles (6-0) play host to the Ravens (4-2) today.

"I think it's probably the best defense, period, that we've played against," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "I don't see a lot of weaknesses in their defense. I think they're sound all the way through. Their secondary is really good. When you can bring in Deion Sanders as your third corner, that's a pretty good deal."

The Eagles' average of 28.5 points per game is second to the Indianapolis Colts. No team has allowed fewer points (85) than the Ravens.

Baltimore has held four of its six opponents to 13 points or fewer. The Ravens allowed 20 points against Cleveland and 27 to Kansas City -- both losses.

"You sure like to be challenged by the best every week if you could. I think it brings out the best in you," Reid said.

Lewis, an All-Pro middle linebacker, is the leader of a tenacious defense that includes All-Pro cornerback Chris McAlister, Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed and Sanders, the perennial Pro Bowl cornerback who came out of retirement in August.

"It's a great opportunity for us," McAlister said. "Their offense is very explosive. They're 6-0, considered probably the best team in the league. It's an opportunity for us to go out and show what we're made of."

While the addition of Sanders fortified an already stingy defense, Owens' arrival in Philadelphia has inspired a high-powered offense.

Through six games, the Eagles have already had 28 plays of 20 yards or longer, including 10 plays of 40 yards or more. Owens, with eight touchdowns, has nine catches of at least 20 yards and six receptions for 40 yards or longer.

"That guy's great, man, he's a great competitor," Ravens cornerback Gary Baxter said. "Can't wait to play against him. He's got the full package."

Owens, who spurned the Ravens and forced a trade to the Eagles after San Francisco initially sent him to Baltimore in March, welcomes the challenge. He had just three catches for 23 yards in a game with the 49ers against the Ravens last season.

"We know those guys are going to be very active, they're going to be physical," Owens said. "They're going to be up for this game, obviously, for whatever reason, but that's a great group of guys in the secondary."

Though the Eagles had success against Carolina's formidable defense two weeks ago, four of their six wins have come against teams with defenses ranked among the bottom 10 in the NFL.

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