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After Further Review: No need to overthink it

PHILADELPHIA _ After further review ...

In a city absolutely gripped with World Series fever it was appropriate if not especially easy to digest that Steelers-Eagles came down to pitch and catch.

There were other elements to Eagles 35, Steelers 13, as there always are in any outcome.

Defensive tackle Cam Heyward lamented poor "eye discipline" on defense.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett bemoaned a lack of detail on offense and the subsequent penalties that made things even tougher on a unit that's having enough problems already.

But the story of Steelers-Eagles was pitch and catch.

Nothing else that happened was as impactful.

When the Eagles threw to wide receiver A.J. Brown he came down with three touchdowns.

When the Steelers threw to wide receiver George Pickens the results were three incompletions and a penalty for offensive pass interference.

The Steelers were in position to make plays on the ball against Brown, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick once and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon twice.

It didn't happen.

And they had 1-on-1 opportunities with Pickens.

Those didn't materialize, either.

"They were making those plays and we were not," head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged.

There was no running from that in the immediate aftermath.

Fitzpatrick owned the first of Brown's three TD receptions, a rainbow from quarterback Jalen Hurts on second-and-10 from the Steelers' 39-yard line on the Eagles' first possession.

"I get paid to make plays on the ball and I didn't do that," Fitzpatrick said. "They started the game off with a big play that I could have easily got and didn't make a play on. It should have been a pick, good return, you know what I'm saying? So the dynamic of the game is totally different with that, you know what I'm saying?"

It was reminiscent of the ball Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis ripped from Fitzpatrick's grasp in the end zone on what became a 62-yard touchdown reception on Oct. 9 in Buffalo.

Games can get out of hand when your best players aren't your best players.

"I gotta make plays that come our way, every single one of them," Fitzpatrick added.

Witherspoon was just as adamant he should have held up better in man-to-man coverage against Brown on what became 27- and 29-yard TD receptions.

"That's appropriate for what I do," Witherspoon insisted. "That's on me to make the plays when I'm put in that position.

"Coaches trust me to do my job and I didn't do that today."

On the other side of the ball the Steelers' rookie battery of Pickett and Pickens couldn't solve veteran Eagles cornerbacks James Bradberry and Darius Slay.

That was another mismatch.

And when you can't win those fake-punts that are successfully converted don't matter.

Neither does consistently going for it on fourth down.

Or the trick play that gets you in the end zone on fourth-and-goal.

There's anticipation and even expectation Pickett and Pickens will be among the Steelers' best players someday, perhaps someday soon.

But that day wasn't Sunday.

"That's the play-making," Tomlin emphasized. "That's the difference."

Sometimes it isn't any more complicated than the obvious.

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