It was a sequence typically reserved for the NFL end-of-season blooper reels, not one of the best teams in the league.
The Ravens were up 17-0 against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second quarter and had first-and-10 at the Eagles' 44-yard line, appearing ready to slam the door in the first half against another inferior opponent.
But rookie right guard Tyre Phillips was flagged for holding, pushing the offense back 10 yards. Then right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. was flagged for illegal formation — another 5 yards backwards. An illegal block call on left tackle Ronnie Stanley sent the Ravens walking back another 10, setting up an insurmountable first-and-35 from their 41.
An uncharacteristic season-high 12 penalties for the Ravens and several errors in the second half nearly sank them in a 30-28 win over the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
It was the most penalties the Ravens have been flagged for since Week 11 of the 2016 season, a 27-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
“It’s just part of the game,” rookie running back J.K. Dobbins said. “We can only control what we control, and we just have to keep executing. If they call a [penalty], we just have to find a way to fix it.”
While only three penalties came on the defensive side, two second-half flags on the defense were some of the most costly in a comeback bid by Philadelphia.
With the Ravens up 24-0 in the early portion of the fourth quarter, defensive end Jihad Ward was flagged for roughing the passer on third-and-5. The Eagles scored two plays later, their fifth try from the 5-yard line or closer, and a subsequent 2-point conversion made it a 16-point game.
The second penalty was much more questionable but just as meaningful. With the Ravens leading 30-22 with a little over three minutes remaining, cornerback Marcus Peters was flagged for defensive pass interference on a deep pass from quarterback Carson Wentz, although Peters and intended receiver Travis Fulgham seemed to both be hand-fighting.
The 49-yard penalty placed the Eagles at the Ravens' 22 and Philadelphia scored four plays later before the game-tying 2-point conversion attempt by Wentz was stalled by linebackers Matthew Judon and L.J. Fort.
The Ravens entered Sunday’s game with just 25 penalties — tied for 11th-fewest in the NFL — split fairly evenly on both sides of the ball, with 11 on the offense and 14 on the defense. But constant flags were prevalent in another choppy effort from the offense and prolonged drives for a defense that looked tired late in the game.
Each of the six Ravens offensive linemen who played, with the exception of center Matt Skura, was flagged for an accepted penalty. Four of the offense’s six penalties were before the snap — false start or illegal formation penalties.
“It’s never one thing that you can trace because every play is different and every alignment is different," Harbaugh said of the presnap infractions. "We do use a lot of cadence. That’s something we believe in. We’re not a simple cadence team, because if you try to do that with teams like the Eagles, they take off on your snap count and are really tough to handle.
"We use cadence, and we’ve been using it ever since Lamar [Jackson] has been in there. We jumped a couple of times and didn’t line up a couple of times. We had wrong formations where we covered up eligible receivers. Those are the things that really should never happen. We’ll look at those things and keep working on them.”
The Ravens' sloppy three-play offensive series in the second quarter, in the end, didn’t loom over the final outcome, and the same can be said for many of the penalties they were flagged for against the Eagles.
But as they enter the bye week, it’s another area for review and improvement before a pivotal AFC North clash with the division-leading Pittsburgh Steelers (5-0).
“It’s always unfortunate when we shoot ourselves in the foot," Brown said. “That’s something that Coach ‘Harbs’ has been on us about since Day One — since I’ve been here — even before I’ve been here. We’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we play more [efficiently] and don’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”
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