The Steelers were not very nice to their guests – the Eagles, on Sunday night at Hinez Field, as the Black and Gold beat up Philly 27-13 and it could have been worse without some bone head turnovers that could have resulted in another 14 points. Oh well, beggers can’t be choosers, and in this game the Steelers offense chose to show up for really the first time of the preseason. After a Jeff Reed field goal to end the first half up 13-3, the Steelers had dominated the Eagles across the board. 297 total yards on offense to 89 for the Eagles.
Ben Roethlisberger was the key to the offense, going 13 of 25 passes for 247 yards and converted 4 of 7 third-down attempts. He did throw a bad interception on a ball that should have never been thrown, but other than that looked as good as any point this preseason or in 2006 for that matter. He spread the ball around to backs, tight ends, and wide outs and whenever he was in trouble, he looked good rolling out of the pocket and throwing the ball downfield.
Willie Parker also got the most playing time he has had by far this preseason, and looked good, minus a goal line fumble. He rushed the ball 10 times and caught three passes for 72 total yards. He also ran for an 18-yard touchdown that put the Steelers up for good. “Right now, no, I wouldn’t say we’re ready, but we overcame adversity tonight,” Parker said. “I got into the end zone and I fumbled down at the end zone. I overcame adversity, but I’m really not satisfied with how I played.”
Another bright spot was the defense, which pretty much clamped down on the Eagles first team offense, holding QB Donovan McNabb and co. to 89 total first half yards. They also started to apply some pressure on McNabb, and just from the surface it looks like Dick LeBeau may have some wheels spinning for some new coverages and blitzes that will drive teams wild. “I was pleased with the way the defense stood their ground,” coach Mike Tomlin said.
While there is still plenty of work to do, this to me was by far the most complete game the team has played in the preseason. The offense looked good, the defense looked good, and while I was not thrilled with a bad shank of a punt and a dropped putn return that set the Steelers back inside their own 5, overall the team I thought played pretty well. Now it’s on to Carolina for a meaningless preseason finale before the regular season opener vs the Browns September 9th in Cleveland.
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