The Philadelphia Eagles rolled over the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-21 in their first win of the preseason. Philadelphia’s first team looked very sharp on both offense and defense as they jumped out to a 17-0 lead at the half. Pittsburgh could not create anything with their first team offense with most of the starters, including Ben Roethlisberger, even playing into the third quarter. In the end, Pittsburgh made it closer with some second half passing drives, but they were thoroughly overmatched from start to finish.
The Eagles had started out this preseason with two high scoring losses to both the Bears and Patriots, so getting their first win was big for them. The ease in which they were able to move the ball on an experienced Steeler defense is a great sign for Chip Kelly’s offense moving forward. It is almost expected that the Eagles offense is effective, but what was surprising against Pittsburgh is how the defense played. The defensive line was getting constant pressure on Big Ben, and the unit, as a whole, kept Pittsburgh’s first team offense from scoring in the first half.
In the week leading up to this game against their in-state rivals, the Steelers had an unfortunate distraction. The top two running backs on the depth chart, LeVeon Bell and LaGarrette Blount, were pulled over with marijuana in their car, resulting in a possession charge for both. Bell also received a DUI on top of that. They both played in the game against the Eagles, though future punishment is sure to come from both the team and the NFL.
While Bell and Blount’s impending punishment are a problem for the Steelers, the bigger problem against the Eagles was the play on the field. The first team offense was not able to get anything going, despite playing much longer than expected. Roethlisberger looked very uncomfortable all night, both over and under throwing receivers and getting picked on a very bad read trying to find rookie Dri Archer. The real problem was not so much Roethlisberger as it was the Eagles defensive line creating constant pressure on the quarterback, sacking him twice and getting in his face consistently.
On the other side of the ball, the problems for the Steelers persisted. The Eagles moved the ball seemingly at will on the first team defense, with LeSean McCoy slicing the defense in both the run and pass game. For a few years now, it has been no secret that Pittsburgh’s defense needs to get younger and more athletic. Playing against the Eagles highlighted that. The tempo at which Philadelphia plays is not comfortable for any defense in the NFL, but it seemed to thoroughly frustrate Pittsburgh’s aging defense.
All of the Eagles 31 points were given away by the Steelers first team defense as they played all the way through the third quarter. The unit will have one more chance to impress against the Carolina Panthers in their final preseason matchup. The Panthers’ offense is not quite the juggernaut that the Eagles boast, but it is the defenses’ last chance to show coordinator Dick Labeau who should be starting and who should be making the roster.
The Pittsburgh Steelers fell 31-21 to their in-state rival Philadelphia Eagles in their third preseason game. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are now both 1-2 in the preseason, with the Steelers ending their preseason against the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia finishing with the New York Jets.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius