EAGLES 24, STEELERS 23
Steelers' record: 0-1
One year ago: 0-1
Preseason series record: Steelers lead, 15-11
There are some particular things Coach Mike Tomlin wants to find out from this preseason opener. "No question that this is going to reveal some things to us, particularly from a football conditioning standpoint. That's something that always jumps out in the first preseason game. How they battle the anxiety of playing in stadiums, and how that affects them from a fuel standpoint." And then there's this: "I want to see these guys play with the sense of urgency that's required in the National Football League. Practices here in Latrobe have been spirited and very competitive, but as all know that the volume gets turned up in the stadiums. I want to see a group of men who are capable of responding to that and really setting the pace in that regard."
In a span of less than two minutes on the game clock in the third quarter, the Eagles hit a 70-yard touchdown pass after the Steelers defense lost contain on the quarterback, then the offense went three-and-out, and then the Eagles hit a 43-yard touchdown pass to turn a 13-0 deficit into a 14-13 lead.
STATS THAT STANDS OUT
The Steelers dominated the statistics in taking a 13-0 halftime lead. The Steelers had more first downs (9-5), total yards (101-49), and time of possession (19:53-10:07). The Eagles also converted only one of four third-down opportunities in the half, and that one came with 1:09 left in the second quarter.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
* Ben Roethlisberger was sacked twice on the team's first offensive series, but he then was able to convert both – the first on a 3-yard run by Isaac Redman on fourth-and-1 and the second on a 17-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders on a third-and-9.
- On the Eagles' first third-down situation of the game – a third-and-8 – Steve McLendon sacked Michael Vick after defeating a double-team by the Eagles offensive line. McLendon would add a tackle-for-loss before the end of the first half in limited playing time.
- The Steelers' 11-play, 70-yard touchdown drive was aided by a personal foul penalty on Eagles CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for launching himself into QB Byron Leftwich on what would have been an incomplete third-down pass. Rodgers-Cromartie should expect a letter from Ray Anderson informing him of a fine sometime in the upcoming week.
- The Steelers' first takeaway of the season came when defensive end Al Woods read a screen intended for Bryce Brown and intercepted Mike Kafka's pass. Woods returned the interception 54 yards to the Eagles 4-yard line, and he protected the ball properly when Brown tried to come up behind him and punch it out from behind.
- On one series early in the third quarter, CB Curtis Brown broke up a pass on first down, and then CB Cortez Allen broke up one on third down to force the Eagles to punt.
- His first half ended with a scare when his knee bucked underneath him on a run that lost 9 yards, but Chris Rainey was back in action for the start of the second half. During a third quarter in which the Steelers were able to manage little in terms of consistent offense, Rainey showed the kind of big play his speed can provide on a 57-yard screen pass from Jerrod Johnson that was good for the touchdown restoring the team's lead at 20-14.
WHAT WENT WRONG
* It was a second-and-10 from the Eagles 27-yard line for the Steelers when David Johnson went down with an injury to his right knee. He sustained the injury while in pass protection for Ben Roethlisberger.
- After Shaun Suisham's 46-yard field goal on the opening possession, Brandon Boykin fielded the ensuing kickoff 8 yards deep in the end zone and returned it 46 yards to the Philadelphia 38-yard line before Curtis Brown finally got him out of bounds.
- Rookie Mike Adams earned a start at left tackle based on his play to this point in training camp, but it was an inauspicious debut. Adams allowed two sacks – both by Phillip Hunt – and the second also caused a fumble that Byron Leftwich recovered. Adams then was forced out of the game with an injury to his right knee.
- On consecutive Eagles punts in the third quarter, Jamie McCoy was flagged for an illegal block in the back both times. The first nullified what would have been a return of close to 30 yards by Marquis Maze, and the second forced the Steelers offense to start at its own 7-yard line.
- Busted coverage. QB Nick Foles broke contain when LB Stevenson Sylvester left his feet during his pass-rush and found WR Damaris Johnson behind the Steelers coverage for a 70-yard touchdown. On their next offensive play, Foles completed a 44-yard pass to WR Mardy Gilyard for another touchdown. In two offensive snaps, the Eagles erased a 13-0 deficit and took a 14-13 lead. On the first of those, the coverage broke down after the quarterback scrambled out of the pocket. On the second, Gilyard just beat Brown deep down the sideline.
- On a 33-yard run by Eagles RB Bryce Brown, both safeties – Myron Rolle and Damon Cromartie-Smith – missed tackles along the way.
- The offensive line the Steelers had on the field in the third quarter – Kelvin Beachum, Ryan Lee, John Malecki, Chris Scott and Kyle Jolly – had some issues. The offense went three-and-out on two consecutive possessions, a third three-and-out included a false start by Beachum, and the fourth series included a holding penalty on John Malecki before Rainey's 57-yard touchdown on the screen pass. The Steelers had 81 total yards of offense in the third quarter, with 57 coming on the screen to Rainey and 16 on a scramble by Jerrod Johnson.
- On the 16-yard touchdown pass from Trent Edwards to WR Jamel Hamler, both CB Andre Freeman and Rolle missed tackles. That was the score that gave the Eagles a 21-20 lead.
After the game, Coach Mike Tomlin described the injury to David Johnson's right knee as "severe." He also characterized the right knee injury to Mike Adams as being "less severe." The shoulder injury sustained by Johathan Dwyer was an AC sprain.