By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers lost two defensive starters and one on offense, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger directed a drive from their 18 into field goal range for Shaun Suisham to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 16-14 Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.
Suisham’s third field goal came from 34 yards into the open end zone as time ran out.
The Eagles took the lead for the first time with 6:33 remaining in the game on a 17-play, 79-yard drive in 8:18. The Eagles converted two fourth-and-one plays, including one from their own 30-yard line, and a third-and-10 into the red zone. The scoring play was a two-yard pass from Michael Vick to Brent Celek.
The Steelers drove 51 yards in nine plays and 4:25, but stalled in the red zone for the second time. Suisham’s 34-yard field goal to open the fourth quarter, his second of the game, made it 13-7. Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown for 14 yards in the drive.
Aided by two 15-yard personal foul penalties, by Ryan Clark and Ryan Mundy, the Eagles drove 80 yards in eight plays and 3:50 to get back in the game. After trailing 10-0 at halftime, the Eagles scored on their opening second-half possession with Vick connecting with LeSean McCoy for a 10-yard scoring catch. McCoy caught the pass in the flat and fooled Larry Foote for the TD.
The Steelers took a 10-0 lead into the locker room at the half, but it easily could have been more … or less, depending on your viewpoint. There were double-digit penalties called in the half, with most of them on the Steelers, but the Eagles couldn’t score due to the Vick factor.
General poor play and a fumble into the end zone that the Steelers recovered. The Steelers overcame injuries to Troy Polamalu (right calf again), LaMarr Woodley (right hamstring again), and a general malaise to most others. One player certainly not in low gear is Lawrence Timmons, who made plays all over the field in the first half.
The Steelers offense got going in the second quarter with a 12-play, 75-yard drive in 7:21 — the best defense a team could have — as Rashard Mendenhall took a swing pass from Roethlisberger and ran 13 yards for the score. It was ruled to be a lateral, ergo a run, but still a touchdown where Mendenhall juked Eagles rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks out of his uniform and burst into the end zone.
The Steelers should have had another touchdown on their half-ending drive, but Antonio Brown dropped a bomb from Roethlisberger in the end zone. He also lost his shoe and cut to the middle, instead of taking it outside for an easy TD. Roethlisberger found Jerricho Cotchery open inside the 3, and he should have walked in but tripped on the 2-yard marker and fell short. Suisham had to kick a 20-yard field goal to set the halftime score.