The Last time the Steelers lost to the Eagles in Philadelphia, 15-9 in 2008, they won the Super Bowl. If that’s the silver lining you choose to take from this game, then your digging pretty deep to find any kind of solace in the 34-3 pounding that the Eagles gave the Steelers last Sunday. The closest that they came to making a game of it, was right up until Markus Wheaton dropped a touchdown pass, with the ensuing field goal attempt being blocked. From that moment on it was all downhill for a Steelers team that was supposed to come in, on defense, and confuse the Eagles rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz, until they finished him off. Instead, it was Wentz who played like he was the 12 year veteran, methodically picking apart the Steelers defense in a most agonizing dink and dunk fashion. Roughly half of Wentz’s 301 credited passing yards came after the catch. As for the 12 year veteran Ben Roethlisberger, he filled the role that many expected Wentz would, hurrying many of his throws due to the consistent pressure he faced all game long.
On the offensive side of things, the Steelers were never able to establish their running game. DeAngelo Williams gained only 21 yards on 8 carries with his longest run going for 13 yards. Philadelphia quickly made the Steelers one dimensional, forcing them to the air, for most of the game. Facing constant pressure from a smaller but relentless Philadelphia defense, Ben was often off target, having to rush his throws. He went through a stretch at one point, where he completed only 4 passes on 16 attempts, and was never able to get into any kind of rhythm. The lone big play was his 41 yard pass to Sammie Coates while the Steelers still trailed only 10-0. Antonio Brown managed to catch 12 passes for the quietest 140 yards in recent memory. For whatever reason, the offense, mainly the offensive line, looked unprepared for what the Eagles front 7 did to them all day. As painful as it was to watch, Jim Schwartz deserves a lot of credit for what he was able to with a young and unheralded Eagles defense, against a high powered Steelers offense that, on paper, should have ran them off the field.
Defensively, the Steelers were once again plagued by their inability to get pressure on the quarterback. Coming off a 2015 season in which they racked up 48 sacks, the only one they have recorded this year so far, is when Arthur Moates ran Andy Dalton out of bounds just shy of the line of scrimmage, last week. Missed tackles and penalties also played a role in what was the worst loss for the Steelers since 1989. Half of the 301 passing yards put up by Carson Wentz came after the catch. About 58 of those YAC yards came on a 73 yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Darrin Sproles, where Sproles turned a few Steelers defensive backs inside out on his way to the end zone.
All in all, there is not much of anything positive that can be taken from such a poor defensive performance, other than the fact that they never laid down. Unfortunately, the Steelers suffered some key injuries during the loss. On defense, Ryan Shazier reaggravated his MCL, Robert Golden pulled a hamstring, Mike Mitchell tweaked his knee, while Lawrence Timmons had to be taken to a local hospital for an injury to his shin when he got cleated. The injured players on offense were Eli Rogers, who suffered a toe/foot injury, and Ramon Foster, who suffered injuries to his chest and elbow. As far as the game itself goes, this was just one loss, no different than if the Eagles lined up and kicked a game winning field goal to win by a single point. A loss is a loss.
What matters now, is that the players and the staff put this one behind them. They will scrutinize the game film in great detail and correct their deficiencies. Teams like the Steelers next opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, run the same style offense as the Eagles, and they will surely use their attack as a blue print for their game plan, and they will fail. The Steelers are still one of the best teams in the NFL because they don’t panic, they just do what they do, and with 13 games left in the season, they are just getting started. Oh, by the way, they are also getting one of their biggest weapons back for next Sunday night. Welcome back LeVeon Bell.