Steelers vs Eagles – Second Half Notes And Observations

Below are my notes and observations upon reviewing the second half of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.

  • Steelers’ first-team offense in against the Eagles’ reserve defense. Quickly forces a third and nine. Markus Wheaton’s 10-yard reception kept the drive going.
  • Le’Veon Bell with a false cut to the outside probably cost him a couple yards on the following play.
  • The defensive line gets penetration between Ramon Foster and Maurkice Pouncey on second down for a tackle for loss.
  • Pressure allowed by Kelvin Beachum again forced Ben Roethlisberger out of the pocket, and as he did so he was sacked.
  • I doubt Brad Wing will be on the team on opening day.
  • In the nickel defense, the Eagles take advantage of Jarvis Jones cutting inside on a run that goes his direction. The back easily gets the edge for a gain of about 12.
  • Finally a Jason Worilds spin move, and it gets him to the quarterback, but not fast enough. Another first down.
  • The Eagles blow Cam Thomas and Ryan Shazier out of the running lane on second and 10 for another first down two plays later.
  • Shazier comes back with a pass break up on the next play, but the offensive line catches the Steelers with inside angled blocks, providing another nice, easy running lane.
  • On third and four, Worilds eventually gets to the quarterback, but Steve McLendon runs into him and bangs knees. Worilds leaves the game, and a defensive penalty gives the Eagles a first down.
  • On second and goal, Troy Polamalu rushes, eyes set on the quarterback as Matthew Tucker takes the handoff into the end zone along the vacant right side of the defense.
  • Roethlisberger with a screen to Antonio Brown, who does everything he can to gain eight yards—called back on a holding penalty on Justin Brown.
  • Wheaton hangs on to a tough catch on first and 20 for 13 yards though. On third and two, Brown hauls in the well-placed ball on a wheel route for a big gain. Another big gain to Brown on the next play brings the Steelers into Eagles territory.
  • LeGarrette Blount picks up where he left off, using cutbacks to compensate for the holes the line isn’t providing at about 4-5 yards per clip.
  • Beachum is beaten with an inside move on the next play while Blount rides an inside rusher perilously close to Roethlisberger, but the quarterback was able to step up in to the pocket and loft a pass 30+ yards down the field to hit Heath Miller in the end zone, providing just a glimmer of hope for the offense at the end of their night with four minutes left in the third.
  • Polamalu blew up a screen for a six-yard loss on first down, but that’s just the other side of the coin for this Eagles offense. Sometimes the misdirection and mobility backfires, but when it doesn’t it results in big plays.
  • Shazier gets beaten down the seam on third down against the Eagles’ third-string tight end, misses a tackle on the next play.
  • Mike Mitchell makes a rare appearance up near the line and makes a stop in the running game.
  • On the next play, Mark Sanchez finds Damaris Johnson at the one-yard line. Lawrence Timmons provides a nice stick on first and goal, but the Eagles split wide the left side of the defense for another Tucker one-yard touchdown against the first-team defense.
  • On his first play, Martavis Bryant draws another illegal contact call.
  • A few plays later, he waits on a hanging ball down the field rather than going up and getting it, resulting in an incompletion.
  • The Eagles’ third-string offense really strained the Steelers’ second-team defense laterally, working the edges with screens and runs to the outside as they quickly got into a first and goal situation.
  • They hurt themselves badly with penalties, however, including having touchdowns nullified. End result was a missed field goal.
  • After that, it was the Bruce Gradkowski show—well, sort of.
  • Initial observations seem to suggest that rookie Wesley Johnson had another good game. He even got down the field on a screen for a cut block this week, which he was unable to do in game two.
  • Bryant caught a short pass and spun to the outside, making the receiver miss. His run after the catch showed that he does indeed have quality speed for his size, nearly getting around the last defender.
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey finally in the spotlight in the third preseason game, able to use his speed to his advantage for once by getting behind the defenders for a 33-yard touchdown.
  • A holding call reversed a third and one run for a first down. On third and 11, Ethan Hemer sacked the Eagles’ fourth-string quarterback.
  • Bryant fielded the final punt and returned it about 10 yards. He seemed to be a little shaken up afterward and asked to come off the field.
  • Heyward-Bey added two more receptions on the final drive to add to his late-surge portfolio on consecutive plays separated by a penalty.
  • Newly signed running back Stephen Houston took a second and one pass 13 yards to set up first and goal, beating the linebacker and bowling over the safety before being stopped at the three.
  • Bryant fails to come down with the fade on first and goal. This one could probably fairly go as a drop. Gets his hands around the ball but fails to clasp them together. He does bring in the ball on third and goal for the score as he runs underneath Rob Blanchflower’s route.
  • The Eagles, however, ended any last chance of the Steelers getting the ball back after converting a first down after the two-minute warning.
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