PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — It had been exactly a year and a day since Sam Bradford last threw a pass in a competitive football game. Bradford had tried to connect with Jared Cook on the sideline in the St. Louis Rams’ second preseason game Aug. 23, 2014 against the Cleveland Browns. The ball fell incomplete, then Bradford fell without really being hit, holding his left knee, his career quickly flashing before his eyes as he got up wincing and exhaled.READ MORE: Philadelphia Mother Pleading To Find Driver Who Struck Son In Hit-And-Run, 'Guardian Angel' Who Found Him
The much-anticipated debut of Bradford had to elicit a great feeling of relief from the Eagles’ coaching staff. They had waited to see what Bradford was capable of and though it’s only preseason, every move Chip Kelly has made seems to be working well. It was an extremely small sample size Saturday night, but Bradford looked really good for not having played football in over a year against live competition, completing 3 of 5 passes for 35 yards and directing the Eagles to a touchdown in their opening drive in their 40-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field.
The most encouraging part of Bradford’s return, however, had nothing to do with anything he did. What Eagles’ fans have to be relish is when Ravens’ outside linebacker Terrell Suggs came crashing down—on what looked like on purpose—into Bradford’s knees after he handed the ball off to Sproles on the Eagles’ sixth play, at their 28. After Suggs flew into Bradford’s legs, the Linc fell silent until Bradford got up. Suggs was called for a roughing the passer penalty and Bradford proceeded to lead the Eagles up the field.
Asked if he did think Suggs’ hit was intentional, Bradford said, “You would have to ask him, but I think that’s what he was trying to do. That’s part of the game and you have to move on. Yea, I was a little upset, but I’m not sure I can repeat what I said to him. Like I said, it’s part of the game and I’m sure that’s not the last time something like that will happen this year. Hopefully, it doesn’t. It got our guys fired up. There was no doubt about that. I thought we responded well. When things like that happen, you can’t dwell on them, you have to move on.”
Bradford’s first completion was an 8-yard connection to Darren Sproles. His last completion was a 15-yard pass to Jordan Matthews on a third-and-five at the Ravens’ 29. The following play Ryan Mathews ripped through the Baltimore defense for a 14-yard touchdown run.READ MORE: Philadelphia's Evil Genius Beer Company Giving Out Free Beers To Those Getting Vaccinated In May
Bradford was accurate, calm in the pocket, and showed the quick release Kelly and Eagles’ offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur loves about his skillset.
Bradford converted two third downs, one a third-and-6 at the Eagles’ 20—his first completion and the Matthews completion that set up Ryan Mathews’ score. Behind Bradford, the Eagles used 12 plays to travel 84 on their first drive, and Bradford showed no corrosion in absorbing 3:55 off the clock during the series.
Bradford said this week that he would like to take a shot during a game, but he corrected himself, saying “That’s probably not the one I had in mind when I said that. But, it was good. I took a few hits tonight, got back up and felt good. It’s part of the game and one of those last hurdles, one of those last boxes that needed to be checked. Tonight, I was able to go out there and not think about my knee. I think that was big for me, and just to get out there and take some shots, feel the speed of the game and feel the rush. You try to simulate that in practice, but it’s really hard when I’m off limits (from being hit). It was good to feel the speed of the game tonight.”
Jason Peters said he thought Suggs’ hit was planned. The Eagles had run the read option all week during the joint practices and “if you get a quarterback running the lead option, they can take a cheap shot,” the Eagles’ all-Pro left tackle said. “It was a cheap shot at the quarterback. I’m pretty sure he planned it. I’m pretty sure he was thinking about it. I really don’t know him personally. He talks a lot. I think he is that kind of player — dirty, and takes shots at quarterbacks.”
Suggs blew off the hit, putting the blame on the Eagles.MORE NEWS: Friday Night In New Jersey Looks Like Something Out Of 2019 As Restrictions Eased
“When you run the lead-option, you have to know the rules,” Suggs said. “If you want to run the read option with your starting quarterback that has had two knee surgeries, that’s on you. That’s not my responsibility to update you on the rules. I could have hit him harder than that. I eased up. I asked [the referee] Jerome [Boger] if he knew the rules in preseason. He said he was going to look at it. On the read-option there, I have to quarterback. It’s not my job to be reading. It’s his job to read me.”