What Trace McSorley’s shining performance vs. Philadelphia means for the Ravens roster battle

Andrew Gillis
NBC Sports Washington

PHILADELPHIA - Trace McSorley knew something was brewing when he saw he had missed two phone calls: One from his quarterback's coach, James Urban, and the other from his head coach, John Harbaugh. 

McSorley received word early Thursday morning that he would make his NFL starting debut later in the evening against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field with starter Lamar Jackson not suited up.

And with the biggest opportunity he's had all preseason, McSorley delivered his best performance as a Raven. He finished 19-of-28 with 203 yards through the air, two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown to lead the Ravens to a 26-15, lightning-shortened win. 

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It was McSorley's first performance where he didn't come off the bench this preseason.

"You're really coming into it, if you're not starting you kind of come in and you know when you're going to be up so you're getting the juices flowing, getting yourself ready," McSorley said. "Tonight, as a team, we were able to come in and play really good offensively."

His best performance of his pro career might have clinched him a spot on the 53-man roster, too. At the very least, it moved him closer to earning a spot when the rosters shrink on Aug. 31.

"I thought he played really well," Harbaugh said. "I thought he was really poised, he made a lot of plays on the move, extended some plays and made them. He played really well."

With normal backup quarterback Robert Griffin III sidelined with a right thumb injury, McSorley has been the team's backup all preseason long. 

In that role, he's gotten reps he typically wouldn't have seen otherwise. Thursday, he showed it's paying off.

"Just being able to get in and really see things, really be there live, it's a big difference than watching the film or sitting back and getting the mental reps," McSorley said. "Once you get in there, see it live, it's different. It's been extremely beneficial getting all these reps."

Aided by the return of Marquise Brown, the Ravens offense scored 23 points in the second quarter - with three touchdowns from McSorley - to pull ahead for a 26-0 lead.

McSorley's best play came when he rainbowed the left sideline and found Michael Floyd in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass that found the wide receiver right on the money. That followed his toughest effort of the night, a four-yard scramble where he found a way to get his right arm, and the football, over the goal line for a touchdown.

His other touchdown came on a seven-yard fade route to Jaleel Scott to put the Ravens up four possessions.

Still, despite his strong performance, he deflected individual praise and was more focused on how the offense ran as a whole. 

"I think so far, I think this is probably… we made some progress from the first couple games," McSorley said. "That's just kind of been the goal from week one to week two, from week two to week three. I think that's something that coach Harbaugh talks about, I think we were able to do that as an offense again tonight."

With Jackson and Griffin not expected to play next week in Washington for the team's fourth and final preseason game, the spotlight will once again be on McSorley, as he'll make his final case to be on the roster. 

Even though he looks like a safe bet to make the team now, especially with the special teams reps he's received in practice, nothing is confirmed for the former Penn State quarterback.

But Thursday's performance, one where he played the best football of his professional career, will go a long way toward ensuring he's on the 53-man roster when the regular season begins.

"He did amazing," running back Justice Hill said. "He got, what, three touchdowns? That's crazy. And he only played a half."

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What Trace McSorleys shining performance vs. Philadelphia means for the Ravens roster battle originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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