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What went right, wrong at Eagles

Posted Aug 21, 2014

The highs and lows of the Steelers' 31-21 loss to the Eagles.

WHAT WENT RIGHT
* Nice job by the defense on the Eagles’ opening possession. After a couple of first downs, Lawrence Timmons dumped LeSean McCoy in the backfield for a 5-yard loss, and then on third-and-long, Ike Taylor knocked the ball out of Riley Cooper’s hands to force a Philadelphia punt.

* Two plays after Nolan Carroll intercepted Ben Roethlisberger, the Eagles attempted the same “fake the screen to one side and throw a screen to the other side” play that resulted in their first touchdown. This time, Nick Foles overthrew the ball, and Troy Polamalu intercepted at the Eagles 31-yard line.

* The Steelers finally got on the scoreboard with 4:07 left in the third quarter when Ben Roethlisberger capped a six-play, 79-yard drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller. On the play, Roethlisberger stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure, which is when he spotted Miller in the end zone behind the coverage.



* It barely qualifies as a bright spot, but a 70-yard touchdown run by Henry Josey was nullified by a holding penalty on WR Will Murphy. Instead it was just a 27-yard gain, with a 10-yard penalty assessed for a net gain of 17 yards.

* Bruce Gradkowski was playing against the defensive players at the bottom of the Eagles depth chart, but he still directed a couple of touchdown drives for the Steelers late in the loss to the Eagles. This was Gradkowski’s best performance to date in the preseason, and therefore was a bright spot for the guy who will serve as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup this season.

WHAT WENT WRONG
* On a third-and-5 from the Philadelphia 48-yard line on the Steelers opening offensive possession, Ben Roethlisberger’s pass fell incomplete, apparently because Justin Brown wasn’t looking for the football. After the play, offensive coordinator Todd Haley had some strong words for Brown as he came off the field.

* Not a very good job on third downs during an Eagles possession later in the first quarter that ended with a Philadelphia touchdown. On a third-and-5 from the Steelers 27-yard line, a pass for Darren Sproles was incomplete, but on the other side of the field Ike Taylor was flagged for holding. Three plays later, on a third-and-10, the Eagles faked a screen to the left and came back with a screen to the right, to LeSean McCoy, who ran 22 yards for the touchdown and a 7-0 Philadelphia lead.

* Thirteen plays, 77 yards, two penalties with another two penalties declined. The Steelers defense could do nothing with the Eagles during the possession that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Darren Sproles to give Philadelphia a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. QB Nick Foles completed all seven of his pass attempts, and the Eagles converted all three of their third-down situations.

* The Steelers’ first turnover came early in the second quarter on a first-and-10 from the Eagles 40-yard line. Under some pressure, Ben Roethlisberger tried to get the ball to Dri Archer, but it was overthrown and cornerback Nolan Carroll intercepted.

* Shaun Suisham missed his second field goal of this preseason, this one going wide left from 46 yards out on the possession that began with Troy Polamalu’s interception. Suisham missed a 38-yard field goal in the preseason opener against the Giants, and he missed an extra point last Saturday at Heinz Field against the Bills.

* There were many statistical examples of the Eagles’ first-half dominance, and here are a few: first downs, 19-8; total yards, 251-96; passing yards, 179-60. In addition, Ben Roethlisberger had a passer rating of 31.5, and the Steelers offense did not have a single play of even 20 yards.

* With 8:43 left in the third quarter, the Steelers finally sacked the quarterback, with Jason Worilds getting backup Mark Sanchez on the ground. But the play was nullified by a pass interference call on William Gay. Two plays later, the ball was in the end zone again, and the Eagles had a 24-0 lead.

* It’s one thing when quarterback Nick Foles is successful in directing the opposing offense, but when Mark Sanchez comes on against the Steelers’ first-team defense and completes 7-of-9 for 85 yards during a nine-play 80-yard touchdown drive, it’s a bad night.

* Antwon Blake’s interception at the Pittsburgh 5-yard line with nine minutes left was nullified by a defensive holding penalty. The official play-by-play did not identify the player who was flagged for the penalty.

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