Eagles coast to 35-13 win over Steelers

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles

The Great JB99 (legendary football commentator and well known to readers of this column) had a nice take on how the Eagles defense lured the Steelers into a hopeless game plan on Sunday.  To paraphrase, once the Eagles established an early lead, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon called for a “contain soft” alignment— rather than focus on relentless pressure, allow Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett to run his playbook and challenge him to move his struggling offense downfield.  The result was Pickett’s slow march to the eventual burning of his own clock.  Pickett’s time of possession in consuming long and often fruitless drives actually worked in favor of the Birds. It’s part of the luxury of playing with an early lead. The clock became the Eagles’ friend, without dramatic big plays being necessary.  The Eagles ended up with 6 sacks against Pickett anyway.

Jalen Hurts threw three touchdown passes to A.J. Brown in the first half and finished with 285 yards and four passing TDs overall as Philadelphia raced past Pittsburgh 35-13 on Sunday.

Brown had six receptions for 156 yards and helped the Eagles win their first seven games for only the second time in franchise history and first since 2004, when Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens led them to the Super Bowl. In that season, the Eagles were denied an 8-0 start with a loss to the Steelers.

Pittsburgh (2-6) offered no resistance this time once Hurts and Brown turned the Linc into their own pitch-and-catch playground.

“I know I can’t let him down,” Brown said. “We’re just having fun and playing for one another. I’m pretty sure he knows that I’ve got his back and I know he’s got mine, too. I think that’s exactly what this is.”

Rookie Kenny Pickett showed more short-term growing pains for the Steelers and was 25 of 38 for 191 yards and an interception. Wide receiver Chase Claypool threw a 1-yard pass to fullback Derek Watt on a trick play in the first quarter for Pittsburgh’s only touchdown.

Brown became the first receiver since Tennessee’s Drew Bennett in 2004 with three receiving touchdowns of 25-plus yards in the first half. Hurts hit Brown from 39 yards, 27 and 29 yards for a 21-10 halftime lead.

Brown made an over-the-shoulder grab in the end zone for the third score as Pittsburgh defenders Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ahkello Witherspoon collided with each other. Brown then might have made Owens proud with the type of celebration once seen out of the retired receiver.

Their first TD might have been the most impressive. Brown went up to catch the 39-yard heave and won a battle for the ball with Fitzpatrick, who pounded the turf in frustration.

Hurts caught Brown in stride for the second touchdown as the speedy receiver outran cornerback Arthur Maulet.

Brown had his best game in his short Eagles tenure, topping the 155 yards he had in the season opener against Detroit. He had only two touchdowns entering the game.

One knock on the Eagles this season was their second-half slowdowns. They had scored only four second-half touchdowns and were shut out after halftime against Minnesota and Washington.

Hurts waved off those concerns when threw a 39-yard TD pass to Zach Pascal in the third for a 28-10 lead.

“They were making those plays and we did not,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We have to own it.”

Nick Sciba kicked field goals of 38 and 29 yards for the Steelers in place of injured Chris Boswell (groin).

Eagles DT Jordan Davis suffered an ankle injury and was carted to the locker room.  DB Josiah Scott also suffered an ankle injury.  Let’s hope we’re talking about sprains here and not anything more serious.

Matchup Eagles coast to 35-13 win over Steelers Eagles coast to 35-13 win over Steelers
1st Downs 21 20
Passing 1st downs 9 13
Rushing 1st downs 10 6
1st downs from penalties 2 1
3rd down efficiency 1-12 7-12
4th down efficiency 4-4 1-1
Total Plays 70 53
Total Yards 300 401
Total Drives 10 10
Yards per Play 4.3 7.6
Passing 156 290
Comp-Att 27-40 20-30
Yards per pass 3.4 8.8
Interceptions thrown 1 0
Sacks-Yards Lost 6-40 3-18
Rushing 144 111
Rushing Attempts 24 20
Yards per rush 6.0 5.6
Red Zone (Made-Att) 1-3 1-1
Penalties 9-60 8-60
Turnovers 2 0
Fumbles lost 1 0
Interceptions thrown 1 0
Defensive / Special Teams TDs 0 0
Possession 34:18 25:42
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