A countdown of the defining plays in the Week 3 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
10 – “The inside track” – On 3rd & 12 with 46 seconds left in the first quarter, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz converted on a deep in route to wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham for a first down that kept the Philadelphia drive alive that ultimately resulted in a field goal.
9 – “Cashing in” – Wentz converted a 12 play drive into a touchdown when he hit Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews on a 12-yard pitch and catch for the first touchdown of the game with 12:04 left in the second quarter.
8- “The red sack” – On the Steelers second trip to the red zone they faced a 3rd and 7. The Eagles rushed 4 and sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers settled for 3, their only points of the game. To make matters worse running back DeAngelo Williams was uncovered on the play.
7 – “Rushing backwards” – With 2:20 left in the first half, Roethlisberger looked to move into the two-minute-offense and he started it out with a rushing play, an 8-yard gain by DeAngelo Williams. But the play was wiped out by a holding penalty against Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, once again keeping the offense from getting in rhythm.
6 – “Pay dirt” – The Eagles got down deep into Steelers territory midway through the third quarter and decided to impose their will by running the football. They ran two delays to running back Wendell Smallwood for gains of 14 and 12 yards respectively. Two plays later, Smallwood would score on an another running play, extending the Eagles lead to 27-3 with more than 5 minutes left in the third quarter, putting the Steelers behind by 3 scores.
5 – “Dominated” – With 3:30 left in the third quarter the Steelers were trailing 27-3 but were starting to move the ball. They were in Eagles territory when defensive tackle Fletcher Cox beat Steelers Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro on consecutive plays resulting in two sacks. The second was a strip sack that was recovered by Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham. Once again halting any momentum the Steelers tried to muster.
4 – “Sproles rolls” – The Eagles had the first possession of the second half. The score was 13-3 with Philadelphia in the lead but the game was not out of reach yet even though the Steelers play was underwhelming in the first half. On 3rd and 8 the Steelers ran a stunt with their front four and defensive end Stephon Tuitt pressured Wentz, who side-stepped his rush, and broke the pocket. This caused the Steelers defense to give chase. Instead of trying to pick up the first down with his legs, Wentz threw a pass to Eagles running back Darren Sproles who zigged and zagged his way through the poor tackling and pursuit angles of the Steelers defense to score a touchdown on the first drive of the second half. It was a 73 yard gain and a decisive tone-setting play.
3 – “Denied” – Mike Tomlin decided to lean on his offense and go for it on 4th and 5 with 10:46 left in the third quarter instead of punting and pinning the Eagles deep in their own territory. While Roethlisberger was well protected on the pass play, the Eagle’s downfield coverage was superb and they broke up the throw to Antonio Brown, once again stalling any offensive momentum the Steelers were trying to create.
2 – “Special special teams” – The Steelers received the ball first in this game and initially Roethlisberger and company looked good, driving deep into the Eagles red zone but eventually the offense stalled in the opponent’s red zone for the first time this season. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell was called upon the make an easy field goal, but it was not to be, as DeCastro was knocked back by the Eagles special team’s unit far enough for them to block the attempt. This play was an omen for what was to come for the rest of the game. But never would have happened if…
1 – “Welcome back” – Markus Wheaton’s return to the lineup Sunday from injury was heralded as a plus for the Steelers offense. But it wasn’t to be. On the Steelers’ opening drive in the Eagles red zone, Wheaton dropped an uncontested pass for what would have been an easy touchdown. This set up the blocked field goal, more drops by Wheaton, and a momentum swing early in the game that the Steelers just could not rebound from.
There you have it, the top 10 plays that contributed to the Steelers loss in Week 3. Hopefully the team can get healthy and regroup and next week we’ll have a countdown of 10 plays that resulted in a Steelers win.