As was the case in the Eagles 3 wins this season, the offense didn't do much in the first half but the defense kept it close. Just like in those 3 wins the offense came alive in the 4th quarter and led a late go-ahead drive... and just like in those wins the Eagles defense needed to make a stop.
In the 3 wins they did, in this one they did not.
After the Eagles led a 17 play, 79 yard drive capped off by a Michael Vick TD to Brent Celek to put them up 14-13, the Steelers responded with a 14 play, 64 yard drive of their own that ended with a Shaun Suisham FG to complete a 16-14 Steelers win.
When you play with fire sometimes you get burned and the Eagles propensity for playing close games and leaving it late certainly bit them today.
Despite the last drive, it's hard to kill the defense too much today. In the end, holding the Steelers to 16 points in their own house should be enough to win. The problem, as it has been all season, has been the offense's inability to score and the cause of that has been turnovers. After a clean game last week, Michael Vick fumbled twice today including once on the goal line. That was at least a guaranteed 3 points, which in a game decided by 2 is obviously a big deal.
And of course, how could we not mention the lack of timeouts at the end of the game? A missed challenge and a confusion timeout left the Eagles with just one on the final drive, meaning the Steelers were able to wind down the clock to nothing before attempting the final FG.
In the end though, if you're going to blame anyone for this game it has to be Michael Vick. He was certainly under pressure today, but none of his lost fumbles were the results of big hits or sacks. They came when he was beyond the line of scrimmage on a run and was diving forward. It was the margin of victory today and it's just not acceptable. It's great that he leads the drive to take the lead at the end, but you can't put your defense in the position of having to make a stop at the end of every game. Eventually, they're going to falter.
What's worse, you can't even fault Vick's decision making here. He really didn't make any bad throws or have any near picks. On both of his fumbles he had properly secured the ball. He just didn't hold onto it. I don't know that you can coach that out of him. He just can't hold onto the ball.
Losing a close game where you weren't played off the field and proved that at least you're equal to the other team is tough to accept, but if we step back for a minute... this isn't the worst loss. Everyone knew going on the road to take on the Steelers after their bye was going to be tough. It sucks because the Eagles really were up to it and could have stolen a win... But after 5 games 3-2 isn't terrible. They still lead the division and have lost 2 rough road games. A win next week at home would have the Eagles in pretty good shape heading into their bye.