The third preseason game is usually used a dress rehearsal for the regular season, but Thursday night in Philadelphia the Philadelphia Eagles first and second-team offenses undressed the Pittsburgh Steelers first-team defense.
The Steelers defense looked sluggish in the Thursday night 31-21 loss as the Eagles consistently gashed the black and gold defensive front to the tune of 72 rushing yards on 15 carries in the first half alone.
The Steelers secondary wasn’t any better as semi-erratic Eagles quarterback Nick Foles still managed to complete 19-of-29 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown in the first half. It could have been worse had Foles been more accurate with a few of his throws.
The Steelers defense was also penalized 10 teams during the game as the league continues to emphasize defensive holding and contact in the secondary.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin played his first-team defense well into the third quarter Thursday night and even backup Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez managed to have his way with them. Sanchez finished 7-of-9 passing for 85 yards.
The Steelers offense never could get on track right from the start. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t sharp with several of his throws as he finished 15-of-24 for 157 yards passing. Roethlisberger’s lone touchdown pass in the game came in the second half as he connected with tight end Heath Miller from 27 yards out with 4:07 left in the third quarter. The touchdown, however, came against an Eagles defense that at that point included several backup players.
The Steelers running game wasn’t any better as running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount combined for 55 yards on 16 carries just one day after both were caught in possession of marijuana during a traffic stop just hours before the team’s chartered flight left for Philadelphia.
The Steelers will now have to trim their active roster down to 75 players by early next week and they will close out their preseason next Thursday night at Heinz Field against the Carolina Panthers. Normally the preseason finale features a quick exit of the starters, but Tomlin might want to think about getting them some extra work after what he observed Thursday night against the Eagles as his team got smoked on both sides of the football.