The Pittsburgh Steelers receive the ball to start the second half after the Philadelphia Eagles dominated the second half, both on the field and on the scoreboard, as Pittsburgh trails 17-0.
Ben Roethlisberger has not been sharp, even if the running game has shown some promise behind Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount. The defense, however, has had little in the way of answers for Chip Kelly‘s uptempo offense, and the Eagles’ defensive speed has also hemmed in many of the Steelers’ perimeter passing options.
Head coach Mike Tomlin “absolutely” will bring his starters back out to begin the second half after the disappointing first 30 minutes. The defense allowed 251 yards, while the offense gained just 96.
Dri Archer picked up two yards on a short pass on first down. Bell was tripped up before he could break the run outside on second down and lost a yard to set up third and nine. Roethlisberger did find Markus Wheaton for first-down yardage and a new set of downs.
Bell gained three yards after the first down after first trying to break outside again but cutting back in. On second and seven, he was hit in the backfield for a loss of five. The Eagles’ reserves are getting the better of the Steelers’ first-team offense. Roethlisberger was brought down for a sack on third down.
Mark Sanchez is the new quarterback for the Eagles. Matthew Tucker carried for five yards on first down, then made Jarvis Jones missed on a 12-yard run. Sanchez found Damaris Johnson for another first down on the following play.
Tucker once again carried for 15 yards, but Ryan Shazier managed to break up a pass in his direction on the following play. On second and 10, Henry Josey carried for six to set up third and four. Jason Worilds was shaken a bit on a sack on which Sanchez fell to the ground, but the defense was flagged for holding, giving the Eagles first and goal from the three.
Tucker gained about two yards up the middle on first down, and cut left with nearly zero resistance for the touchdown on the following play to extend the Eagles lead to 24-0.
Sean Spence suffered a right knee injury at some point and will not return. That is not the knee that he injured two years ago.
Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown on a short route that he took across the field, but a hold negated the play. On first and 20, Roethlisberger connected to Wheaton for 13 yards. Heath Miller‘s five-yard reception made it third and two. Brown hauled in an over the shoulder throw for the first down.
Brown once again came down with the catch to jump start the offense, gaining 22 on the play. Blount plowed through the line for four yards with the offense finally showing some signs of life. After pressure through the line, Roethlisberger stepped up into the pocket and arced the ball to Miller in the end zone for the touchdown.
Ross Ventrone made a nice special teams tackle on the kickoff following the Steelers’ first score, but the Steelers were flagged for offsides, resulting in a re-kick. The re-kick was taken for a touchback.
The first-team defense remains out, sans Worilds, who will sit the remainder of the game with a knee injury, despite not looking too worried about it on the sideline. They allowed the Eagles’ second-team defense to score on their opening drive of the half.
Troy Polamalu was able to blow up the Eagles’ plans on first down, tackling the runner for a loss of six, but Sanchez hit his tight end for 12 yards to set up third and four. He then beat Ryan Shazier down the seam, and Ike Taylor was flagged for roughing the passer in the process.
Shazier missed the tackle on the next play, and the Eagles converted for a first down at the 20-yard line. A five-yard carry on first down made it second and five. Sanchez found Johnson for 14 yards down to the one. Lawrence Timmons stuck Tucker at the line of scrimmage on first down, but he punched it in with little effort on second down. The Eagles’ second-team offense has scored 14 points on two drives against the Steelers’ starting defense and they trail 31-7.
Lanear Sampson returned the ensuing kickoff to the Steelers’ 45-yard line. Bruce Gradkowski entered the game and threw to Martavis Bryant deep on first down, drawing an illegal contact call.
Other than Bell, the rest of the offense is made up of reserves at this point. Guy Whimper draws a holding call. Gradkowski slid for three yards for make it second and 17. Bell gained four to set up a third and long. The Eagles were flagged for a neutral zone infraction to make it third and seven. Two Eagles broke up a deep ball for Bryant, who failed to attack the ball.
Tomlin finally spared his first-team defense after giving up touchdowns on two drives to the Sanchez-led second-string Eagles offense. Daniel McCullers remains the second-team nose tackle. Philadelphia’s third-team offense is in.
Matt Barkley is now in the game. Josely seemingly had a 7o-yard touchdown on his hands, but a hold brought it back–still enough for first-down yardage.
McCullers just made a tackle 16 yards down the field. I feel I should stop writing now, but I can’t.
Following an offensive penalty from the 21, the Eagles picked up three on first and 20. B.J. Cunningham caught a touchdown over Isaiah Green, but an illegal formation penalty brought it back. Antwon Blake nearly intercepted the following pass along the right sideline, but both Green and Brice McCain were flagged for holding. Somehow, the Eagles failed to convert a third and six, and settled for a field goal attempt, but it was wide.
Bell and Blount continue to perform their community service by toting the ball midway through the fourth quarter. Bryant caught a pass and made a defender miss, showing nice speed after the catch for perhaps his first significant play this preseason.
Bryant returned the ensuing punt to the 42-yard line, and Gradkowski found Heyward-Bey for a first down to move the chains.
Gradkowski looked to Bryant deep again, but there was a defensive penalty on the play. Blount picked up a first down on the following play. Darrius Heyward-Bey hauled in a 33-yard pass for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 31-14 deficit.
Jordan Dangerfield and Vic So’oto were in on the ensuing kickoff coverage tackle inside the 20.
The Eagles turn the offense over to G.J. Kinne, whom I’ve never heard of. He suffered the disgrace of being tackled by Chris Carter after a one-yard gain on first down. Illegal hands to the face turned a third and one into a third and 11, and Ethan Hemer was able to get the sack.
Heyward-Bey converted a first down on the first play of the Steelers’ next drive, which began on the 42. From the 25, he caught a screen for nine yards in his bid to make the roster. Curtis Marsh defended Bryant well on first and goal on a jump ball. On second and goal, Derek Moye had his chance to do the same, but it was not a good throw. Bryant got into the end zone on a slant on third and goal, giving the Steelers 21 and trailing by 10 with less than three minutes to play.
The Eagles gained a first down, and both sides agreed to let the clock run down after the two-minute warning despite the Steelers having three timeouts left.