BALTIMORE (Aug. 17, 2006) -- Standing in a corner of the Philadelphia Eagles locker room, Correll Buckhalter flashed a wide smile as he spoke excitedly about playing in the NFL again.
"Everything in the past is in the past," he said, referring to knee injuries that forced him to miss three of the past four seasons. "It's a new beginning for me."
Playing for the first time this preseason, Buckhalter ran 48 yards with a shovel pass from Donovan McNabb to set up the Eagles' lone touchdown in a 20-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night.
The final score didn't spoil the fun for Buckhalter, who has not played in the regular season since 2003. He is vying to be the backup to Brian Westbrook, who missed the game with a leg injury.
"It feels great to be back. I feel very blessed," Buckhalter said. "I put a lot of hard work into this, and practice makes perfect. I stayed calm throughout the process before getting on the field, and that helped me. I made no mental errors and followed my assignments."
Especially on his catch-and-go from McNabb. Buckhalter eased past the several blitzing linemen, then worked his way downfield before being tackled on the 1. He enjoyed less success carrying the football, however, gaining eight yards on five tries.
"I thought he did some good things," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "It was good to get him in there, and he had the long screen play. I thought after that he was a little bit tired. We'll do a little more with him next week."
Buckhalter's spectacular play accounted for nearly half of McNabb's 97 yards through the air on 6-of-10 passing, all in the first half.
Down 10-3 at halftime, the Ravens got a 43-yard touchdown run from Musa Smith to pull even. Matt Stover kicked a 30-yard field goal later in the third quarter to give Baltimore (1-1) its first lead, and Kyle Boller threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Devard Darling with 13:34 left.
Ravens quarterback Steve McNair, who ran for a touchdown in his only series last week, couldn't get Baltimore into the end zone in 30 minutes of play. He went 14-for-18 for 148 yards and no interceptions.
Steve McNair looked good but managed just three first-half points.
"We did a good job from the 20 to the 20, but we've got to finish now," McNair said.
Darling finished with five catches for 121 yards, including a 42-yarder. He's seeking to earn a job as Baltimore's third wide receiver, and this performance didn't hurt his chances.
"Those are the kind of plays we've been waiting to see Devard make," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.
Working with a no-huddle offense, the Eagles (1-2) scored on their opening drive after Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle was called for pass interference on the first play from scrimmage. Six plays after the 35-yard penalty, David Akers kicked a 43-yard field goal.
After Baltimore punted, the Eagles benefited from another penalty during an 80-yard drive that produced a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
On third down at the Philadelphia 22, McNabb threw an incomplete pass. But Ravens linebacker Bart Scott was called for illegal contact away from the play, and McNabb completed a 21-yard pass to L.J. Smith before connecting with Buckhalter.
Buckhalter gave credit to the offensive line, but the play wouldn't have worked if he didn't show the speed and footwork that characterized his play three years ago.
"For him to come back and bounce back this strong," McNabb said, "we cheer for him. He can gain some confidence from this and be able to move on."
After Buckhalter was stopped at the 1, McNabb threw a touchdown pass to Reno Mahe.
The Ravens answered with a 15-play drive that consumed more than nine minutes and produced a 30-yard field goal by Stover.
Late in the half, Baltimore moved to the Philadelphia 23 before Jevon Kearse hit McNair in the pocket, forcing a fumble that was recovered by safety Brian Dawkins. Ray Lewis then forced Mahe to fumble at the Philadelphia 42.
The Ravens moved to the 17 with 18 seconds to go, then inexplicably ran on a third-down play without any timeouts left. The clock ran out before they could try a field goal.
Notes: Lewis played the entire first half, his first action since a season-ending leg injury in October. He finished with two tackles. ... Eagles WR Jeremy Bloom left with a hamstring injury. ... Baltimore RB Mike Anderson sprained his foot. ... Reid on the no-huddle: "We needed to work on it in a game situation. I thought we executed it well and Donovan handled it well."