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Eagles' 31-21 win drops Steelers to 1-2

Posted Aug 21, 2014

In a game billed as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Steelers did not play well

EAGLES 31, STEELERS 21

Steelers’ preseason record: 1-2
One year ago: 0-3
Preseason series record: Steelers lead, 15-12

STORYLINE
Coach Mike Tomlin believes the outcome of NFL games are determined by all three units working in harmony, and since the third preseason game most resembles a dress rehearsal for the regular season, that’s what he said he wanted to see from the Steelers against the Eagles. Here’s how Tomlin explained what he means by three units working in harmony:

“More than anything, it’s a snap-shot of the three units working together,” said Tomlin, “and what I mean is it’s offense, defense, and special teams, and understanding the components of how they work together. That’s something we’ve stressed here since the game against the Bills, and it’s an area we need to improve. A case in point:

“Last week, Ryan Shazier picks the ball off and puts the offense on a short field. The offense responds, goes in and scores a touchdown. We have an opportunity right after that sequence, with a third-and-7, to get off the field on defense in three downs. We allowed (the Bills) to convert the third down, and they changed the tide of that sequence. If we get off the field on that third down and put the ball back into the hands of our offense, we’ve got an opportunity to make some hay.

“We’re really talking about gaining an understanding of how the three units come together to create a flow, or maybe to stop an opponent’s surge. I want to see signs of that.”

TURNING POINT
There isn’t much to identify as a turning point in a loss as decisive as this one, but one of the recurring themes of the night had to do with the Steelers’ defense being unable to slow down Philadelphia’s offense, really at any point in the game.

STAT THAT STANDS OUT I
Much is made of the stress that Coach Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense puts on opposing defenses, but statistics indicate it also stresses his own defense. Over the 2013 regular season, the Eagles offense snapped the ball 1,054 times – 500 runs and 554 passes, which included 46 sacks. The opposing offense snapped the ball 1,150 times – 443 runs and 707 passes, which included 37 sacks.

STAT THAT STANDS OUT II
In the first two preseason games, the Steelers were penalized 13 times for 108 yards. Through three quarters of the game against the Eagles, the Steelers had been penalized 11 times for 77 yards.

FINAL FLAG TOTAL
As usual, Ed Hochuli’s crew seemingly worked the game with the understanding that they would get paid per penalty flag thrown. The final tally was 27 accepted penalties: 13 for 92 yards vs. the Steelers, and 14 for 110 yards vs. the Eagles. Anyone who believes this is the kind of football the fans want is delusional.

EARLY DOMINATION BY THE EAGLES
Each team had six offensive possessions in the first half, and the respective outcomes of those would serve to determine the outcome of the game. The Steelers’ possessions ended: punt, punt, interception, missed field goal, punt, end of the half. The Eagles’ possessions went: punt, touchdown, touchdown, interception, punt, field goal. That added up to Philadelphia 24, Pittsburgh 0 at halftime.

MAKING TACKLES BUT NOT MAKING PLAYS
The Eagles offense ran 79 offensive plays against the Steelers defense, with 43 pass attempts. On those plays, the Steelers had one takeaway – Troy Polamalu’s interception – one sack – by Jason Worilds – and four passes defensed.

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