On a night on which nearly every player performed below expectations, it’s difficult to cull much positivity, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.
The first-team defense played a full three quarters of the game, and allowed 31 points in the process, including two consecutive touchdowns on two long drives by the Eagles’ second-team offense in the second half.
One of the few starters on defense that had a respectable night was inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who outside of the two elder statesmen in the secondary is now the old guard for Dick LeBeau’s unit after inheriting the signal-calling buck position this year. Below is a sampling of his night.
Timmons was of course the first one on the night to make a play for the defense. The Eagles led off the game with an incompletion, followed by an 11-yard reception and a 15-yard carry. Timmons saw to it that the Eagles would pay for their risky offensive style.
After two consecutive first downs, he was able to get a read on the next play quickly, and he was able to beat the pulling guard to the spot, cutting between Jarvis Jones and William Gay to blow up LeSean McCoy for a five-yard loss. What followed were two incompletions and a punt.
The Eagles went on to score touchdowns on consecutive drives, but Timmons was instrumental in forcing another punt on their fourth drive. On this first and 10 play, he helped clean up the mess left behind by Cortez Allen’s missed tackle by knocking Jeremy Maclin back after his nine-yard reception to keep it second and one.
On second down, the Steelers were able to take advantage of a miscommunication, as it seemed Zach Ertz was supposed to be blocking for a wide receiver screen. This allowed Ike Taylor to get in front of the receiver and gave Timmons time to get down the line and impede his progress, with Gay falling on him for the tackle.
Like the rest of the defense, Timmons was quite sick of giving up touchdowns by the end of the third quarter. They had already given up three, and were facing first and goal once again.
From the one-yard line, Matthew Tucker got the handoff, but Timmons came crashing in through the hole forming at the goal line and plastered the running back, stopping his forward progress and leaving him prone for his teammates to drag down for no gain. It was a nice final stand despite the fact that the Eagles scored on the next play.