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Eagles-Steelers Final Score: Observations from Philadelphia’s loss to Pittsburgh, 31-14

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The Philadelphia Eagles were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday evening in their first 2018 preseason game.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles kicked off their 2018 preseason schedule with a loss on Thursday evening. The Eagles were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers by a final score of 31 to 14.

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

Notable starts: Nate Gerry at WILL. Destiny Vaeao at defensive tackle. Sidney Jones at nickel corner.

Fletcher Cox notched a sack after eating David DeCastro alive. Turns out he’s still good!

Jim Schwartz sent a blitz (!) and Malcolm Jenkins beat James Connor to bring down Landry Jones for another sack.

Cox pushed the Steelers’ backup center into the quarterback to bring up another sack. Monster game from No. 91 in limited playing time. Looks like a guy truly chasing Defensive Player of the Year.

Three Steelers offensive drives, three punts forced for the Eagles’ starting D.

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

The Eagles handed off to Jay Ajayi on their first offensive play. Then Nate Sudfeld overthrew Mack Hollins on a throw towards the sideline. Then Sudfeld threw a bad pick right to a Steelers defender. Not a great start!

Ajayi had a nice, violent run through contact for a 22-yard gain on the Eagles’ second drive. Then Sudfeld hit Dallas Goedert for a 26-yard gain over the middle. Then Goedert dropped a pass, womp. The Eagles’ drive stalled around midfield with a handoff to Ajayi on 3rd-and-14.

The Eagles sent their first team offense out for a third drive. Clement had a nice run where he juked a Steelers linebacker out of his shoes. Then he got lit up when Sudfeld threw a checkdown to him for a 4-yard loss. The Eagles’ third down screen play lost another four yards.

Not a great outing for the Eagles’ offense. Certainly worth noting that the Eagles were starting their third string quarterback and didn’t have any of their starting wide receivers playing.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Steelers won the coin toss and elected to receive. Sidney Jones made the tackle on the opening kickoff.

Corey Clement returned the Steelers’ first punt. Rashard Davis handled the next one.

Avonte Maddox got flagged for holding during a punt return.

Cameron Johnston’s first punt wasn’t bad. His second one was. Then he had a 37-yard punt. Then he had a 81-yard punt ... but it got wiped out by a penalty! He followed it up with a 57-yarder.

Shelton Gibson was back to return the Steelers’ first kickoff. He dropped the ball in the end zone before picking it up, going to run out of the end zone, and then taking a knee as he realized his teammates were telling him to go down. The Steelers then had to re-kick the ball due to a penalty and Gibson redeemed himself with a 31-yard return.

THE QUARTERBACKS

Nate Sudfeld: 10 of 14, 140 yards (10.0 average), 2 TD, 2 INT, 103.3 passer rating

Joe Callahan: 8 of 17, 91 yards (5.4 average), 0 TD, 0 INT, 60.2 passer rating

...

Studfeld did a great job of side-stepping a pass rusher in the red zone and keeping his eyes down the field to find a wide open Goedert for a touchdown. Money.

Sudfeld had a rough break on his second pick where it looked like there was a miscommunication between him and Bryce Treggs. Sudfeld had a great throw when he hit Shelton Gibson for a deep touchdown. Right on the hands.

Overall, Sudfeld’s performance mirrored what we’ve seen in offseason practices. He shows flashes but he’s plagued by inconsistency.

Callahan took over for Sudfeld at the start of the second half. He didn’t have much of a supporting cast to work with but he found a way to not be a total disaster. He had one really nice strike to DeAndre Carter.

MORE OBSERVATIONS

You have to love Big Balls Doug being in regular season form. Steelers get penalized on Jake Elliott’s first extra point attempt (which was good) and Pederson accepts to attempt a 2-point conversion from the 1-yard line. Wendell Smallwood’s rushing attempt gets into the end zone thanks to good blocking from Seumalo. Relevant:

And then Doug did it again on Philadelphia’s second touchdown! But the Eagles’ 2-point attempt failed that time.

Sidney Jones still played slot corner with the backup defense. He got flagged for the NFL’s dumb new “lowering the helmet” rule at one point.

With Jones in the slot, De’Vante Bausby lined up on the outside. Bausby had a nice breakup and he caught a ball while going out of bounds. Didn’t count for the interception but prevented the offense from making a play. Bausby also had a really bad whiff on a Steelers screen play.

Rasul Douglas got tripped up while trying to go for a jump ball against JuJu Smith-Schuster. And gave up an easy touchdown. Not great. Elijah Qualls also deserves blame for jumping offside and giving Pittsburgh a free shot down the field.

Douglas bounced back later with a nice pick on a pass floated in the air by Dobbs. Nice read and break on the ball to make the play. The high’s and low’s of Rasul Douglas, everyone.

And then Douglas gave up another touchdown in the end zone.

Goedert made another nice catch up the seam on a throw from Sudfeld.

Stephen Roberts got into the game before Jeremy Reaves. Mildly interesting.

Kamu Grugier-Hill (and Josh Sweat) did a nice job of chasing down a Josh Dobbs bootleg. Grugier-Hill later sniffed out an option play to a running back for a 3-yard tackle for loss.

Sweat’s roughing the passer penalty on third down in the red zone allowed for the Steelers to get a second touchdown (plus a 2-point conversion) instead of Pittsburgh having to settle for a field goal.

Tre Sullivan had some bad missed tackles.

Second team offensive line from left to right: Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Chance Warmack, Isaac Seumalo, Matt Pryor, Taylor Hart.

Winston Craig got absolutely OBLITERATED into the ground on the Steelers’ third touchdown of the game.

Wendell Smallwood ran through a huge hole and fumbled as he got into daylight. He was lucky that the ball was recovered by a teammate.

Jordan Mailata got beat for a strip-sack on his first snap in pass protection. Not exactly a surprise in his first-ever game played. He seemed to settle in after that play, though.

Josh Adams had a nice run in the third quarter. There were also some moments where you could see his limitations. Only managed to get 1-yard on a huge cutback lane to work with.

Richard Rodgers had some nice moments as a run blocker.

Seumalo had a real bad snap that went over Callahan’s head. Bingo board alert!

Qualls had two more penalties after the offside one. Not a good night for the second-year defensive tackle.

Aziz Shittu did a nice job of blowing up a run play. He also got called offside on a play that gave the Steelers a free shot.

Avonte Maddox got beat by James Washington on a jump ball catch. Maddox then dropped a chance at a pick in the end zone.

INJURY UPDATES

Sidney Jones had to leave the field after going down in the middle of the second quarter. Trainers were looking at his left foot. He got taped up.

Lane Johnson was seen icing his leg. He also got taped up after the first series. Didn’t seem to be anything major.

Bryce Treggs got banged up late in the game. Got hit by multiple Steelers and went off the field. Then he walked back into the locker room.

UP NEXT

The Eagles have off tomorrow on Friday, Aug. 10 before returning to training camp practice on Saturday, Aug. 11. Stay tuned to BGN for more Eagles coverage.