Missed opportunities make a difference

Game action from Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

PHILADELPHIA – They were just two plays in what became a 34-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, but that didn't make Markus Wheaton feel any better about the one that got away from him.

On third-and-13 from the Eagles' 18-yard line on the game's opening possession, Ben Roethlisberger extended the play and then found Wheaton in the back of the end zone. The ball got there ahead of cornerback Nolan Carroll, but Wheaton didn't catch it.

"I don't think he touched it," Wheaton said of Carroll's closing effort on the play. "He just flashed and I dropped it and that's all there is to it."

Chris Boswell had a 36-yard field-goal attempt blocked on the next play. From there, the Eagles scored 10 unanswered points en route to establishing a 13-3 lead going into half. The hosts never looked back.

"I started the game off on the wrong foot," Wheaton said. "It's frustrating coming back to the team in this fashion, losing in that fashion and having the performance that I had."

"We are not going to get down on him," said Roethlisberger after the game. "He knows he should and can make that play. There is enough thumb pointing that needs to go on. That begins with me. That was an offensive, defensive and special teams loss."

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RUNNING ON EMPTY:** The Steelers attempted eight runs for 15 yards in the first half, one a 7-yard scramble by Roethlisberger, and went to the locker room trailing, 13-3.

By the time they got their hands on the ball again they were down 20-3 and they wound up attempting just two more rushes in the second half.

"We kind of had to get out of it pretty quick," Roethlisberger lamented about the running game.

The Steelers' first-down runs in the first half against the Eagles went for no gain, 1 yard, 1 yard, 6 yards (coupled with a 10-yard holding penalty for a loss of 4) and 1 yard.

And that's not good enough.

"We pride ourselves on getting 4-plus (yards) on first down and we've been able to do that so far this year," Roethlisberger said, looking back to season-opening wins over Washington and Cincinnati. "When you can't do that you get behind the chains and then they're dropping into zones, getting pressure with their front four, makes it tough."

Head coach Mike Tomlin said he was surprised the Steelers weren't able to run the ball effectively.

"They got after us," Tomlin said. "We have to have a better plan. We have to execute better."

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REPEAT AS NECESSARY:** The Eagles' screen game, Tomlin said, was "exceptional," and responsible in Tomlin's estimation for approximately 150 of the Eagles' 301 passing yards.

That's a trend Tomlin said the Steelers need to get corrected and one S Mike Mitchell vowed the Steelers would address.

"We're not tackling, that's really all it is," Mitchell said. "When they're throwing the ball short when we're taking away the deep throws, we gotta come up and tackle the short stuff we're giving them.

"We gave up a lot of yards to a back last week (Cincinnati's Giovani Bernard had nine catches for 100 yards and a receiving TD against the Steelers). It would be stupid to not assume that this team was going to try similar things. Hat's off to their offense, they did a good job. But I really feel like it's more about our lack of execution than anything else."

Eagles RB Darren Sproles had six catches on six targets for 128 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown that made it 20-3 Eagles on the first possession of the third quarter.

LB Ryan Shazier came off Sproles and up on scrambling QB Carson Wentz on the 73-yard TD.

Wentz threw the ball over Shazier's head to Sproles and Sproles did the rest.

"I thought (Wentz) crossed the line of scrimmage," Shazier said. "My fault."

Added Mitchell: "Obviously, we're frustrated. We just look forward to the next game. That way we can prove what I'm saying is correct and we can get it corrected and have a better performance next week."

THEY SAID IT: "Never. Even if coach would have said 'get out,' I would have kept going in. We don't quit. I don't quit. That's not the Steeler way. That's not my way." _ Roethisberger on if he thought about sitting out the latter stages of the blowout.

"All around we just sucked on defense. To be honest with you we just sucked. We got our (butt) kicked). If we play like that we're not going to win any games." _ DE Cam Heyward.

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