The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 16-14 on Sunday and below are my first half notes from the game with the second half notes to follow soon.
Nice bracket coverage on the early deep pass Jeremy Maclin by both Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark. The defense had the Eagles in a 3rd and long, but Jason Avant moves the chains after he is passed off from James Harrison to Cortez Allen. Too easy of a conversion there. Harrison is then trapped inside on the run left by LeSean McCoy for another first down. Keenan Lewis was also blown up by the fullback on the run. Timmons misses an easy sack of Michael Vick as he comes free on the left side of the defense. Vick misses high to Maclin on a quick throw with Lewis in tight coverage over the top. Vick should have made the throw and it would have been close to another first down. Steelers rushed 6 on the play.
Steelers open on offense with 12 personnel with David Paulson, not Leonard Pope as the second tight end. Maurkice Pouncey fires back a high fastball on second down and the Steelers go three and out to start. Thank goodness Max Starks recovered the loose ball. The third and long pass to Heath Miller had no chance to gain the first down. Curious decision by Ben Roethlisberger.
DeMarcus Van Dyke is a blazer on special teams and even beats Curtis Brown down the field. Two excellent gunners.
Lawrence Timmons destroys McCoy trying to block him on the Eagles second possession, but Vick escapes to throw the ball away. On 2nd down of the Eagles 2nd possession the defense has no clue what the call is and Harrison even looks like he tries to call timeout. The defense is all flat footed and McCoy goes for a big gain to the left. Larry Foote should have probably called a timeout there. The reversal of the Vick fumble was the right call. Defense does good job on zone blocking to string out McCoy wide on second and short as Timmons flies in to make the tackle. Harrison also does a good job of beating his block as well on the play. The pass interference call on Ike Taylor was iffy. The last reach in is what drew the flag. Two players hand fighting and competing. Tough break and the Eagles are in business deep. It might not seem like much, but Lewis keeping Maclin out of the end zone ended up being big. Vick fumbles on the designed keeper thanks to the hit by Clark. Huge takeaway.
Miller starts off the next drive with a pancake on the left side run. Pouncey is down field on the next quick screen pass to Miller to take out safety Kurt Coleman. Marcus Gilbert is also down field to deliver a block. Willie Colon draws his first of four holding calls on the next play. Penalty on the Eagles follows and gives the Steelers a first down. Rashard Mendenhall makes his first mark in the game thanks to nice lead block by Will Johnson, but all is for not as Mike Wallace is flagged for an illegal formation. Antonio Brown gets flagged for a false start and the drive comes apart. Colon is flagged for holding again to top things off. Need more errors? Van Dyke is then flagged for running out of bounds on the punt and the Steelers have to punt again.
Timmons ends the first quarter by forcing another Vick fumble. Troy Polamalu unfortunately reinjures his calf on the play and is done for the day.
Both lines, outside of Colon, had a good first quarter in my opinion. Timmons played very well and the forced fumble by Clark was huge. 0-0 after one.
Brown starts the second quarter off by allowing a pass to go through his hands on third down. On fourth down another bad snap forces Roethlisberger to just throw it deep to Wallace who is double covered. Eagles take over on downs.
Taylor and Clark have DeSean Jackson blanketed on the next long pass by Vick on Eagles next drive. Harrison has good pressure and a hit on the play. Timmons knifes through on the next running play to hit McCoy for a loss. Timmons follows it up by blowing past McCoy again and the Steelers get the sack and the stop. Timmons should have had three sacks so far in the game.
Roethlisberger with a rare keeper for a nice gain on the next possession. Nate Allen should have been flagged on the pass to Emmanuel Sanders as he was all over the top before the ball arrived. Starks gives up a pressure and Roethlisberger escapes for a nice scramble. He gives a great fake pitch as well on the run. On third and 1 Redman spins for a first down. On the touchdown by Mendenhall he makes a nice move on Mychal Kendricks and Paulson runs enough interference down the field for the score. Great play call.
Timmons flies by McCoy to miss an easy stop on the next drive. Harrison is cut on the next play and that gives Vick time to hit Jackson on a short crossing route as Taylor is rubbed off in coverage. A few plays later Timmons again with great pressure on Vick. Steelers overload the weak side on third down and Jason Worilds gets the sack.
The Eagles are not flagged for a late hit on Roethlisberger on the next drive. No surprise there. Roethlisberger hits Brown underneath to move the chains on third down. Brown was in motion to get a clean release. Colon follows that up with another hold, but offsetting penalties cancel it out. Sanders has a big first down catch after Wallace runs interference on a rub. Great deep ball by Roethlisberger to Brown in the end zone that should have been caught. Brown converts on his next catch and has his shoe thrown out of bounds by Coleman. Jerricho Cotchery trips over his own feet after catching the second down pass underneath as he runs past Kendricks. He could have scored and the Steelers burn a timeout. Roethlisberger is almost picked off on third down on a pass to Wallace on a quick slant. Wallace was held by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the play but no call and the Steelers are forced to settle for a field goal to end the half.
The first half featured Colon holding several times, receivers dropping balls and getting penalized and Pouncey firing back two bad snaps. Both lines I thought really played well outside of Colon as did the Steelers linebackers, especially Timmons. The forced fumble by Clark was huge and defensive was able to bend, but not break. The Steelers could have easily been up 14-0 at half at the very least.
I will have my second half notes up shortly.