In the world of Sports, it’s easy to think that the key to victory is scoring more points than the other team, and you may be right, because the final score determines the outcome, but without one main factor behind that scoring, a team will never have a chance when they step on the field of play and that factor is preparation.
Two teams stepped on the football field at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia Sunday afternoon, but one team appeared prepared and that was the Eagles who continue to look like the surprise of the NFL as they destroyed the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3 to improve to 3-0, their best start since 3-0, when they were under former head Coach Chip Kelly. New HC Doug Pederson’s presence is slowly breathing something into the Eagles that they haven’t seen in years: Life. And it’s no coincidence that Pederson came from a HC whom Eagles fans know well: Andy Reid.
Rookie QB Carson Wentz is looking like an early candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as he passed for 301 yards (23-31) and 2 TDs. He wasn’t sacked at all and has also started the 2016 NFL Season without throwing an interception. (His quick passes fooled the Steelers defense and his ability to extend the play compared him to the man that he beat-Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers Signal-Caller didn’t have a good day at the office as he passed for 257 yards (24-44) 0 TDs and an interception. He’s also the first rookie in NFL history without an interception in his first 100 pass attempts to begin a career. He was also sacked 4 times and looked confused and frustrated by a charged-up Eagles defense who was truly prepared to play. It had been said that the Eagles defense had improved, and the concern was whether this team could beat a legitimate contender after their wins vs. the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears.
Now it’s time to stop wondering. This team is for real.
Big Ben and the Steelers actually looked like that had things under control after they drove over 50 yards on their first drive. WR Antonio Brown caught most of the passes and although RB DeAngelo Williams didn’t generate much yardage, he got key first downs when needed. The Steelers got into the Red Zone and it appeared that they would have gotten their first TD of the game when Roethlisberger extended the play and found WR Markus Wheaton in the back of the endzone. Problem was, Wheaton dropped it. The Steelers then lined up for a 36-yard field goal, but Chris Boswell’s attempt was blocked and the Steelers came away with nothing.
To be honest, the Steelers lost the game right there.
The Eagles then took over and drove the ball right down the Steelers throats, but settled for a 29 field goal by K Caleb Sturgis to give them a 3-0 lead. After the Steelers did nothing on their next drive. In the second quarter, the Eagles scored their first TD when Wentz found WR Jordan Matthews for a 12-yard TD and a 10-0 lead. The Steelers then responded when they drove down the field and settled for a 40-yard Boswell FG closing the Eagles lead to 10-3. Sturgis would add another FG to extend the Eagles lead to 13-3 at the close of the first half.
In the second half, it got better for the Eagles and worse for the Steelers. Wentz once again
extended the play and found a wide-open RB Darren Sproles who ran through the lackluster Steelers defense en-route to a 73-yard TD run extending their lead to 20-3. The Eagles would score again when RB Wendell Smallwood ran it in from the 1 and RB Kenjon Barner would score from 8 yards out to seal the 34-3 victory.
Smallwood would lead with 79 yards rushing and the TD and Sproles finished with 6 catches for 128 yards and the 73-yard TD. For the Steelers (2-1), Williams did not have a good game as he was limited to 21 yards on 7 carries. Brown had his usual signature game with 12 receptions for 140 yards, but he was unable to get into the endzone.
Ray’s Take: According to the record books, this was the worst Steelers loss since 1989, when they were destroyed 51-0 by the Cleveland Browns. I guess you can say that since they didn’t score a TD. Bottom line folks: The Steelers weren’t ready. I honestly think they were a little big-headed coming into Philly because face it, according to the media, they are considered a legitimate Super Bowl threat and they were ranked #1 in the NFL.com power ratings (maybe before New England won Thursday) but when you believe your own press, that’s usually a set-up for a letdown, which the Steelers experienced Sunday.
I haven’t seen Big Ben play this bad since they lost to Baltimore last season, He looked lost, confused and frustrated, Wheaton’s 2016 debut was awful as he dropped 3 passes (including the one in the endzone) and the defense? Don’t get me started. They looked like the Pitt D looked Saturday in their still-disappointing loss to North Carolina. They couldn’t pressure Wentz and their tackling was horrible. And how they looked on that 73-yard TD pass to Sproles…speaks for itself. Deplorable. I give the Eagles credit because they’re hungry and when you are hungry, you will eat, which the Eagles did.
I’m not concerned about the Steelers because one game does not a (early) season make. They’re a good team that got punched in the mouth, and it happens. Now they have to learn from this and prepare for the visiting Chiefs next Sunday. They will also receive a boost as RB Le’Veon Bell will return from his 3-game suspension. That can only help the team.
Notes: The Steelers also suffered several injuries as LB Lawrence Timmons ended up in the hospital after an apparent shin injury. S Robert Golden (hamstring) G Ramon Foster (chest) and WR Eli Rogers (toe) also didn’t return in the second half.
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