By Teresa Varley
The Eagles went into Sunday's game against the Steelers as one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, averaging 37.5 points in their first two games.
And the Steelers defense was ready for the challenge.
They held them to 15 points and allowed only 260 yards and 16 first downs, a performance which normally would solidify a Steelers win.
"I want to say right now that I have to thank our defense," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "They gave us many chances to win that game. They were the reason that we were able to stay close and have an opportunity to win the game. My hat goes off to our defense and the way they played -- it was something special."
Special it was, but unfortunately special doesn't go too far when you don't win the game. This isn't a team that looks for style points, they look for victories.
"We did still allow the Eagles to put 15 points up on the board," said linebacker LaMarr Woodley. "We cannot totally be satisfied because we let them put up more points then we did. I do not worry what the offense does because on the defensive side, we have to keep the scoring down."
The Steelers forced three Eagles turnovers with Bryant McFadden and Troy Polamalu both intercepting Donovan McNabb and McFadden adding a fumble recovery.
It was a good sign for the defense, no doubt, but they still know there is work to be done.
"It is still really too early in the season right now to know where we are at," said Woodley of the defense. "But when you lose, you have to go in and look at things and make some changes. We have to make some corrections, so it does not happen next week. I think we will come out next Monday and not make the same mistakes."
* * *
Faced with 4th and 10 from the Eagles 22-yard line and down 15-6, head coach Mike Tomlin had a choice – kick a field goal or go for the touchdown as two scores were needed. In his mind, though, there really wasn't a choice.
"We did not move the ball consistently enough to say that had we kicked a field goal and got an onside kick that we could get down there again," said Tomlin. "We were down there, we were going to take our shots and had we gotten in the end zone, we would have kicked an onside and attempted to get a first down or two and put ourselves in field goal position. But under the circumstances, based on what had happened to that point, no way I'm kicking a field goal right there. We are trying to score while we're down there."
The fourth down conversion failed when Byron Leftwich's pass for Santonio Holmes was incomplete and the Eagles took over and ran out the clock.
Don't expect any major lineup changes based on one bad game as that is not Tomlin's style.
"You know I'm not going to have a knee jerk reaction," said Tomlin. "We've got a good football team. What we are going to do is go in and look at it, accept responsibility for what happened, make corrections, prepare to see it again on Monday night because we will until we stop it, and move on."