PHILADELPHIA — Thursday’s preseason contest at Lincoln Financial Field produced quite the homecoming for Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Trace McSorley in his return to the Keystone State.
Penciled into the starting lineup against the Philadelphia Eagles, McSorley enjoyed an offensive performance similar to the ones he enjoyed while serving as the offensive centerpiece for Penn State University from 2015-2018.
“It was cool kind of being here,” McSorley admitted. “Obviously there was a ton of Penn State people out there, and it was cool being able to come back and just play in Pennsylvania.”
Under center for the first three quarters — a period that included consecutive series against a majority of the Eagles’ starting defenders — McSorley completed 19-of-28 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, added another score on a short run and led two additional field goal drives.
He staked the Ravens to a 26-0 halftime lead as the team vied for its 16th straight preseason victory dating back to 2015. Baltimore eventually won, 26-15, after the game was cut short due to inclement weather with 11:43 to play.
“I thought it was a good night, just to be able to come out and move the ball efficiently, take care of the football and play winning football. That was just the goal,” said McSorley, who learned he would be starting prior to the team meal. “We were able to score points, put points on the board, so it was a good outing.”
With No. 1 quarterback Lamar Jackson held out of the exhibition, three expected starting linemen not dressed and four other rookies entered into the starting lineup, McSorley had mixed results against Philadelphia’s aggressive starting defense. After going eight yards on six plays to set up a 45-yard field goal by Justin Tucker on the opening drive, Baltimore went virtually nowhere on the ensuing possession before punting from its own end zone.
The 23-year-old enjoyed greater success against Philadelphia’s reserves, connecting with Jaleel Scott for a 7-yard touchdown to put Baltimore ahead 19-0, and finding Michael Floyd for an athletic 28-yard score that capped the first-half scoring. He also added a physical, 4-yard rushing touchdown, confirmed after an official review, to make it 13-0.
He did not suffer a turnover after throwing an interception in each of the first two preseason contests.
“I thought he played really well. I thought he was really poised. He made a lot of plays on the move, extended some plays and made them, made some good throws. I thought the line did a good job of protecting him, too,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of McSorley. “He’s gotten better. He’s gotten better game to game, and that’s kind of how he’s been in practice. It’s very positive.”
Firmly entrenched behind Jackson and former first-round pick Robert Griffin III on the Ravens’ quarterback depth chart, McSorley, a sixth-round draft selection, remains in contention to make the team’s 53-man roster.
“I made some progress from the first couple games. That’s just kind of been the goal, really, from Week 1 to Week 2 and Week 2 to Week 3, just making that progress,” McSorley said. “I think that’s something that Coach Harbaugh talked about and I think we were able to do that on offense in the game tonight.”
It also followed a challenging second day of joint practice with the Eagles on Tuesday, when McSorley threw three interceptions leading up to the preseason contest, including two on consecutive passes late in the day.
“I just wanted to bounce back from practice. I think as a team, really as an offense, we didn’t feel great how that practice ended,” McSorley said. “We talked about getting back to playing winning football, that was a big goal for us. Protecting the football was a big deal. I think it was good, really as an entire group, we were able to bounce back.”
Fellow Ravens rookie Marquise Brown, making his preseason debut, caught three passes from McSorley for 17 yards, including the first play of the game.
“Trace is a phenomenal player,” said Brown, the team’s first-round selection. “I watched him in college, and just to see how he came out here and took control – he’s going to be a great player for us.”
Backup quarterback Joe Callahan replaced McSorley to start the fourth quarter.
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