T.O. wins first battle with Ravens

PHILADELPHIA – After Terrell Owens strutted into the end zone, the flamboyant All-Pro wide receiver spun the football on the ground as an exclamation point to his touchdown catch.<br><br> The Philadelphia Eagles wideout did a lot of preening, posing and shouting on his way toward the bench. He thoroughly enjoyed his 81-yard score in the first quarter of the Baltimore Ravens' 26-17 loss Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Plus, the Ravens allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown.

It was the first significant action between Owens and the Ravens since his trade to Baltimore was nullified five months ago following his series of noisy complaints. Owens downplayed any feud with Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis.

"As far as Ray, we're good friends," Owens said. "I told him he loved me and he told me he loved me back. It's all blown out of proportion of what the media is trying to say."

Owens' touchdown reception came on a high lob behind cornerback Gary Baxter from Donovan McNabb, the Pro Bowl passer he preferred to play with instead of Ravens second-year quarterback Kyle Boller.

"Preseason is for learning and we'll learn from it," Lewis said. "Remember, they get paid, too. We are going to be a shutdown defense, but we have to do it all the time."

Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed blitzed on the Owens touchdown, and there was no support deep. Baxter is still recovering from abdominal hernia surgery.

The Ravens allowed 158 passing yards in the first half, the majority of the yardage produced by Owens' 81-yard score and Freddie Mitchell's 62-yard reception.

"We can't dismiss what happened in the first half," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "You don't want to see it, even in the preseason. Attention to detail, learn from mistakes and then move on. We won't dismiss it. We'll learn from it."

The Ravens retaliated in the second quarter.

Reed intercepted McNabb at the Eagles' 42. Instead of running it in himself, Reed delivered a perfect lateral to safety Will Demps who coasted the final 15 yards to tie the game at 10.

"I've seen that play so many times before and I thought they'd be looking for 81 (Owens), especially since they were struggling running the ball," Reed said. "I took advantage of the opportunity. When I saw I couldn't get in, I flipped it to Will."

On the ensuing kickoff, J.R. Reed sprinted untouched 88 yards, dodging a diving tackle attempt from kickoff specialist Wade Richey.

"We're a better defense than we showed, and the kickoff return is a disappointment," Reed said.

Two possessions after Owens' score and patented histrionics, Reed nailed Owens a moment after he dropped a pass inside the Ravens' 9. Philadelphia settled for a 27-yard field goal by Tim Duncan.

Meanwhile, Boller turned in an uneven performance.

He completed 10 of his 20 passes for 97 yards and no touchdowns for a 43.1 passer rating.

Boller was intercepted by Eagles linebacker Ike Reese when he short-armed a throw intended for tight end Daniel Wilcox. He recovered his own fumble in the first quarter when he banged into running back Jamal Lewis.

Lewis rushed for 39 yards on eight carries.

"We did some good things in the first half, especially running the ball," Boller said. "We had some drives, but we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times."

Although Boller's statistics weren't glittery, he did have a few encouraging moments.

Boller found Travis Taylor for a 38-yard reception, his longest completion of the preseason. Boller also rushed for 31 yards on five carries, including a 19-yard scramble.

"I thought Kyle handled his time out there well," offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said.

In the final minutes of the second half, Baxter was flagged for illegal use of the hands and a personal foul when he grabbed and yanked Owens' face mask.

Veteran kicker Matt Stover got the Ravens on the scoreboard with a 36-yard field goal with 6:24 remaining in the first half. He was short on a 48-yard attempt to end the half.

Duncan kicked four field goals, including a 23-yarder with 22 seconds left in the game.
In the second half, former Ravens starter Jeff Blake outdueled current Ravens backup Kordell Stewart.

Stewart was intercepted twice, leading to a pair of field goals. The first interception sailed directly to linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. Defensive tackle Jon Bradley picked off a poorly-thrown screen pass.

Stewart completed 2-of-8 passes for 23 yards. He did score on a 9-yard run in the fourth quarter off of a broken play.

"Big plays can win for you," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "They can also beat you."

NOTE: Incumbent return specialist Lamont Brightful only returned kickoffs, gaining 60 yards on three tries. Rookie Lance Frazier returned three punts for 31 yards.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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