Going by the 31-21 the Philadelphia Eagles got against the Pittsburgh Steelers, their offense, led by Nick Foles, is in a much better position at this stage of the preseason than the one led by Ben Roethlisberger, who only started looking prolific once he faced a backup defense.
This was an important performance for the Eagles, who struggled against the Patriots and the Bears when their starting offense was on the field, scoring just one touchdown in six drives on those two road losses. Foles finished with 19-of-29 for 179 yards and a touchdown pass to LeSean McCoy, who had to leave the game with a thumb injury right after the play. The results of the scans were negative, but the Eagles had enough of a scare when it comes to their number one playmaker on offense.
Foles played an entire first half in which the Eagles scored 17 unanswered points on the Steelers, getting one yard touchdown runs from Darren Sproles and Matthew Tucker. Sproles caught one pass and added 33 yards on six carries, giving the Eagles another dimension of play-making to help take the load off of McCoy. Matthew Tucker also scored a touchdown in the first half and added another one later on, finishing the game with 46 yards on 10 carries with two scores.
Mark Sanchez took over in the third quarter and didn’t find any difficulties against the Steelers’ backups, completing 7-of-9 passes. Matt Barkley was 4-of-4. Foles was good and sharp on most of his throws, but he still had a few misses and he also gave up an interception, giving Troy Polamalu too easy of a turnover to create. Both teams turned the ball over just one, as Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception into the hands of Nolan Carroll.
And how was Roethlisberger? Not his best of preseason performances. He did throw a touchdown pass to Heath Miller in the third quarter to finally put the Steelers on the scoreboard, but that came against backups and not the Eagles starting defense. The Steelers aren’t exactly worried about their struggles early in this game, but that was not the most promising of signs, considering the Eagles aren’t a defensive juggernaut.
Eyes were on LeGarrette Blount and Le’Veon Bell who have both been cited for marijuana possession, which is considered a terrible offense in the eyes of the NFL – worse than hitting a woman and dragging her unconscious in a hotel lobby. The duo, primed to fix the rushing issues the Steelers have had in recent years, ran for a combined 55 yards on 16 carries, and could have done better without the media distractions sitting in the back of their minds.
Bruce Gradkowski finished the job for the Steelers, doing well with two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to make the score seem a bit more respectable. He completed a 33 yard pass to Darrius Heyward-Bay, followed by supplying rookie Martavis Bryant, someone the Steelers have high hopes for going into this season, with a three yard pass for the final touchdown of the game.