I know most pundits will be talking about the key fumbles committed by Michael Vick that took big points off the board…and yeah, maybe the Eagles should have proven they are better and tougher than the Steelers except for their failure to hold on to the ball in scoring situations.
But my main criticism will be focused on the disconnect between the linebackers of the Eagles and their partners on the defensive line…
They took a long time to get a read on what Mike Tomlin, OC Todd Haley and Big Ben were trying to accomplish with quick slants and big slash running plays. I guess I wasn't the only one who underestimated how healthy and ready Rashard Mendenhall was to drive big plays upfield, either.
The Eagles could have survived Vick's blunders, if only DC Juan Castillo and Andy Reid would have recognized how the Steelers were basically taking advantage of creases in the Birds' defensive positioning.
The Eagles' defensive line was penetrating downfield the entire game…but their linebackers seemed to lay back in a "set" position. This LB set was either a lack of respect for the Steelers' running game, or a delayed reaction to Big Ben's ability to roll out of the pocket and pick his poison.
Either way, it prevented the Eagles from creating that "flat wall" of defenders coming in on either the running back or the QB under pressure. It allowed "creases" between the line of scrimmage and the second level of defenders…which Mendenhall and Roethlisberger exploited with great execution. Basically, the Eagles bled to death on defense, despite being the superior team overall in my opinion.
Vick held up okay under the Pittsburgh blitz for the most part… he just had some random "chuck and duck" moments which wasted some huge opportunities to put this game away with an exclamation point.
One other "turning point" besides the key fumbles must be mentioned… Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark got away with a non-called pass interference and illegal contact respectively on DeSean Jackson on a home run pass play in the first half. I don't think I've ever seen a penalty that was so obvious from every viewing angle — yet was not called.
Okay, I'm done.
Shaun Suisham hit a 34-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 16-14 victory over the Eagles on Sunday. The Eagles (3-2) took the lead on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick to Brent Celek with 6:33 remaining, but the Steelers responded by driving 64 yards to set up the winning kick, including a pair of key third-down conversions by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall ran for 81 yards and a touchdown in his first game of the season as the Steelers (2-2) avoided their first two-game losing streak in three years.
Vick completed 20 of 30 passes for 175 yards and two scores but fumbled twice for the Eagles, who couldn't keep their string of narrow early-season victories going. LeSean McCoy rushed for 53 yards, and caught four passes for 27 yards and a touchdown for Philadelphia.
The Eagles trailed the whole way but put together a grinding 17-play, 79-yard drive at the start of the fourth quarter, converting a pair of risky fourth-downs, including one deep inside their own territory. McCoy turned both fourth downs into first downs, twisting for the necessary yardage on fourth-and-inches at the Philadelphia 30 then bulled for two yards on fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 47. The drive seemed to wear the Steelers down and when Celek hauled in the short toss from Vick the Eagles were poised for their fourth escape in five weeks. Philadelphia won its first three games by a total of four points.
Instead, Roethlisberger put the Eagles on the other end of the equation. After a penalty backed Pittsburgh up to its own 10, the Steelers methodically moved down the field. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for a 20-yard gain on third-and-12 at the Pittsburgh 18 and later found Emmanuel Sanders for seven yards on third-and-4 at the Philadelphia 38. Mendenhall, making his season debut after recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, bolted for eight yards on the next play to get the Steelers well within Suisham's range. Three more runs put the ball at the Philadelphia 16, and rookie punter/holder Drew Butler had no problems with the snap in soggy conditions. The ball sailed through the uprights as the sideline erupted.
Vick officially fumbled twice in the first half — one that rolled into the end zone and the awaiting arms of Pittsburgh linebacker Larry Foote — and had another overturned on replay.
Pittsburgh's offense found its footing first, with Mendenhall taking a lateral from Roethlisberger and dashing 13 yards for a score midway through the second quarter. Pittsburgh made it 10-0 at the half on a 20-yard field goal by Suisham, though the Steelers missed a chance to go up two touchdowns when Jerricho Cotchery tripped going into the end zone.
Philadelphia drew within 10-7 on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Vick to McCoy, setting up a dramatic fourth quarter.
Steelers safety Troy Polamalu left the game in the first quarter after aggravating his strained right calf. Polamalu limped off the field following a fumble by Vick and the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year did not return. He was replaced by backup Ryan Mundy.
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||4.4||5.0|
Comp – Att
Yards per pass
Sacks – Yards Lost
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-3||1-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|FG||00:00||Shaun Suisham 34 Yd||14||16|
|TD||06:32||LeSean McCoy 15 Yd Pass From Michael Vick (Alex Henery Kick)||7||10|
|TD||05:01||Rashard Mendenhall 13 Yd Run (Shaun Suisham Kick)||0||7|
|FG||00:06||Shaun Suisham 20 Yd||0||10|
|TD||06:33||Brent Celek 2 Yd Pass From Michael Vick (Alex Henery Kick)||14||13|
|FG||14:51||Shaun Suisham 34 Yd||7||13|