The Steelers lost in all three statistical categories I tell fans to track throughout the game. First, time of possession. Philadelphia possessed the ball for 34:56 to the Steelers 25:04. You can’t leave this Steelers defense on the field for that long and expect them to keep anyone from doing anything positive.
Second, the defense couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down. The Eagles were 4 of 10 on their conversions, but earned 25 first downs on the game, four from penalties, while the Steelers were 4 of 11 and only made 15 first downs.
Pittsburgh turned the ball over 2 times to the Eagles zero. A fumble by Ben Roethlisberger while being sacked that set up a touchdown and an interception. The Steelers O also turned the ball over on downs twice. I always say if you win 2 of these 3 key stats, you’re more than likely to win the game. Analyzing these categories closer proves why this game was so lopsided.
My hopes for reservations to Houston in February 2017 to claim Lombardi number seven are shaky because of this defense. I’ve been saying this “bend but don’t break D” scares me through the first two weeks. I saw nothing in week three to lessen my fears. If anything, I’m even more terrified when they’re on the field.
We already knew they struggled stopping or even containing the pass coming into the day. Washington Redskins’ quarterback Kirk Cousins passed for 329 yards on 30 for 43 in the season opener and Andy Dalton threw for 366 yards on 31 for 54 for the Cincinnati Bengals in the slop in Heinz Field last Sunday. Still it comes as a bit of a surprised they gave up 301 passing yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 for 31 to rookie QB Carson Wentz. But wait, they couldn’t even stop the run, which they had been doing well in games one and two. The Eagles gained 125 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Coming into the day, the Steelers were only allowing 50 rushing yards per game.
It wasn’t just the D that was embarrassing and uninspired. Not to be undone in the lack luster effort department, Roethlisberger and the offense looked like it had the rookie quarterback. Roethlisberger threw for 257 yards, but was 24 for 44 with a QB rating of 62.4. The offensive line struggled to keep #7’s jersey clean as he was sacked 4 times for -35 yards and he was pressured and hit nearly every time he dropped back to pass. I never thought I’d see this offense held to 3 points and 251 total yards, even without Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant out due to suspensions. Markus Wheaton might as well have missed another game, because his hands didn’t make the trip as he dropped three key passes, including the potential touchdown I mentioned earlier. It’s no wonder they took the ugliest loss of the NFL weekend, and that includes the Houston Texans’ woodshed whoppin’ they took at the hands of the New England Patriots Thursday night.
The only positive from this loss for Steelers fans, is that the last time Philadelphia beat Pittsburgh at Lincoln Financial Field in 2008 (15-6), the Steelers went on to win Super Bowl XLIII. If the 2016 season ends the same way, they’ll gladly look back at this game as the one that humbled them and got them on the right path. Lets hope.
Next up, the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) on Sunday Night Football, and the return of All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell. Hopefully he can inject some juice into the offense and team.
OTHER NOTES: Antonio Brown caught 12 passes for 140 yards, but no touchdowns. Sammie Coates caught another pass of over 40+ yards, his third of the season. He’s averaging 29 yards per catch on the season.