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Tie Tie Birdies

By Ryan Shute, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The Philadelphia Eagles will be heading to M&T Bank Stadium to meet the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Even though the Ravens were originally the established Cleveland Browns franchise that was relocating to Baltimore in 1996, the courts decided the city of Cleveland would maintain all the Browns history, declaring the Ravens a brand new franchise.

Inter-conference match-ups were happening very few and far between until the NFL expanded in 2002 to 32 teams with 2 conferences containing four divisions of four teams. This enabled the NFL to compose a scheduling formula where all clubs would meet each other more often as teams would play intra-conference opponents at least once every three years and inter-conference games once every four years.

The Eagles and Ravens played each other for the first time in a week 12 matchup in 1997. Both teams would enter with identical 4-6 records, where it was still early enough in the season where a win for either could help make a possible playoff push. Well that did not happen on that Sunday afternoon.

Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde would hit receiver Michael Jackson for a 29-yard touchdown to open the scoring and take the 7-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Kicker Chris Boniol would hit a 33-yard kick to get the Eagles on the board in the second half, but Matt Stover would cancel out Boniol’s kick with 3:40 to go in the game and extend the Raven’s lead back to seven points.

As Stover kicked off following his field goal, Duce Staley would receive the kick at his own 16-yard line and return it to the Eagles 40, giving them a glimmer of hope.

The Eagles took advantage of the field position and quarterback Bobby Hoying helped lead the Birds deep into Ravens territory with under two minutes to play in regulation.

With the ball spotted on the two, running back Charlie Garner would run the football in for a touchdown followed by a Boniol extra point that knotted the game 10-10 with just 1:25 on the clock.

Baltimore would put together a drive and have the ball down on the Philadelphia 37. On 3rd and 1, running back Jay Graham, who would finish the day with 154 rushing yards, would not be able to pick up the first as he was stopped by Eagles linebacker William Thomas for no gain, bringing up fourth down.

Baltimore used their final timeout and opted to go for it instead of attempting a long field goal. Testaverde would throw an incomplete pass and turn the ball over on downs with 14 seconds left.

Hoying was able to hit Irving Fryar for a 17-yard gain and get the ball on the Baltimore 47 and would run one more play before time expired to send the game to overtime.

The overtime period would be rather uneventful other than both kickers failed on field goal attempts, including Boniol’s miss of a makeable shot from 40 yards on the last play of the game, resulting in a 10-10 tie.

The Eagles and Ravens would not meet again for seven years when the Ravens visited Philadelphia in the 2004 season. Both teams were considered serious contenders in their respective conferences, but it was the Eagles that pulled out the hard fought 15-10 victory.

The highlight of the day came on wide receiver Terrell Owens 11-yard touchdown catch from Donovan McNabb that was followed by Owens mocking Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis signature dance as his touchdown celebration. T.O. had every move down to a T.

The Eagles and Ravens have split their last two meetings, giving the Eagles a 2-1-1 record in the four overall match-ups. The round five contest looks to be between two teams that could be heading in opposite directions as the 2016 season is winding down.

The Eagles are still mathematically alive but are more concerned about simply getting back in the win column and breaking their four game skid. As for Baltimore, they need any win they can collect in the final three weeks to keep their legitimate playoff hopes alive and push to take the AFC North crown.    


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