STEELERS – EAGLES OBSERVATIONS
In what some players felt was a must-win, the Steelers move to 2-2 on the season, with a 16-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday afternoon. The Steelers had 9 penalties for 106 yards but they won the turnover battle (Eagles 2 – Pittsburgh 0) and were able to finish offensively after the defense surrendered yet another 4th quarter lead. After Philadelphia’s 17 play, 78 yard scoring drive to take a 14-13 with 6:33 remaining, Mike Vick and the Eagles would never see the ball again.
Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense closed out the game with a 14 play, 64 yard drive, capped off by a Shaun Suisham 34 yard game winning field goal. Suisham is now 8-for-8 on field goals this season.
On the game winning drive, Pittsburgh overcame a Willie Colon holding penalty on the first play of the drive, backing the Steelers up to their 10 yard line but Philadelphia couldn’t get off the field on third down. On 3rd and 12 at their own 18, Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown for a 20 yard strike for a first down and two plays later, Rashard Mendenhall made things happen in open space gaining 15 yards on a short pass right.
Another key third down was 3rd and 4 at the Eagles 38, following the two-minute warning as Roethlisberger threw a seven yard reception to Emmanuel Sanders as the Steelers offense which went 6 of 14 overall on third down, went 2-for-2 on the drive (third down).
SHORT-WEEK/INJURY CONCERNS: Pittsburgh’s win was somewhat costly as Troy Polamalu re-aggravated his right calf injury and LaMarr Woodley left the game with a hamstring injury. Early indications are don’t expect either player to be able to play Thursday night in Tennessee. Polamalu’s calf injury has long-term concerns because it’s been an injury that has plagued him since the 2009 season. Woodley’s could end up having long-term implications as he was never able to get to full strength last season after suffering a hamstring injury against the Patriots on Oct. 30, 2011. Woodley we’re told wanted to come back into the game.
MENDENHALL PROVIDES IMMEDIATE IMPACT: I’ve been saying it for weeks that Rashard Mendenhall is under-appreciated by the fan base and the media from what he brings to the table as a runner and his return provided an immediate impact today. Mendenhall rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and had 101 all-purpose yards. What Mendenhall gave the Steelers offense was a dynamic ability that no one else on this roster can give them. Mendenhall was excellent at making defenders miss, had a long run of 17, TD run of 13 yards when he juked Mychal Kendricks in a one-on-one situation near the sideline and had a 24 yard run called back when Mike Wallace was called for illegal formation. Mendenhall though also got the tough yards at the end of the game on the Steelers game winning drive, rushing for 8 yards on first down to get the ball down to the Eagles 21 yard line and he had a 15 yard reception earlier in the drive. He provided a big boost today.
TIMMONS HAS BREAKOUT GAME: Lawrence Timmons had the type of breakout game we’ve been waiting for. Timmons had a team-high 9 tackles, (8 solo), 2 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble and 2 quarterback hits. Timmons played the type of aggressive, standout game that we really haven’t seen from him since the 2010 season, which earned him a $50 million contract. Timmons was all over the field and Dick LeBeau did an excellent job at unleashing him as a pass rusher from the inside. While some critics of Timmons will say he didn’t finish some plays today, Timmons was the type of dynamic linebacker today that had previous made him regarded as one of the games best middle linebackers.
COLON’S UP AND DOWN DAY: Willie Colon showed today that he’s still not where he needs to be in his transition to left guard, especially from a pass blocking standpoint. Colon was hit for 4 holding penalties in the win but Colon was a force as a run blocker, providing huge holes, flashing his potential at guard as a premier run blocker. In a way, he had a Chris Kemoeatu type of game that the Steelers were use to getting from Kemoeatu at left guard in the past couple years. Colon did some great things but had his share of miscues.
WALLACE HAS THAT GAME THAT MAKES YOU THINK TWICE OF PAYING HIM: Mike Wallace had the type of game which was common for him in the second half of last season. It was one of those games that makes you think twice about committing the top-tier money to him that he wants. Wallace had 2 receptions for 17 yards on eight targets and struggled against the Eagles press coverage. That’s how you defend him and he was plagued by dropped balls and the effort wasn’t there from him.
BROWN CONTINUES TO EMERGE AS ROETHLISBERGER’S GO-TO-GUY: No Steeler lit up the stat sheet but the Eagles secondary struggled to contain Antonio Brown who had 7 receptions for 86 yards on 10 targets. Such a great route runner, Brown continues to emerge as Roethlisberger’s go-to-receiver and has posted three straight games with seven receptions. Brown has 25 receptions for 326 yards in four games this season.
PIT Ben Roethlisberger 21/37, 207 yards, 72.7 QB rating
PHI Mike Vick 20/30, 175 yards, 2 TD, 104.2 QB rating
PIT Rashard Mendenhall 14 CAR – 81 yards, 1 TD, 5.8 AVG
PHI LeSean McCoy 16 CAR – 53 yards, 3.3 AVG
PIT Isaac Redman 13 CAR – 41 yards, 3.2 AVG
PIT Antonio Brown 7 Rec – 86 Yards
PHI DeSean Jackson 4 Rec – 58 yards
PIT Heath Miller 4 Rec – 41 Yards
PHI Jeremy Maclin 5 Rec – 39 Yards
PHI Jason Avant 3 Rec – 34 Yards
PHI LeSean McCoy 4 Rec – 27 Yards, 1 TD
PIT Emmanuel Sanders 3 Rec – 22 Yards
PIT Rashard Mendenhall 2 Rec – 20 Yards
PIT Mike Wallace 2 Rec – 17 Yards
PHI Brett Celek 3 Rec – 9 Yards, 1 TD
PIT David Paulson 1 Rec – 8 Yards
PIT Chris Rainey 1 Rec – 6 Yards