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Observations from the Eagles’ loss to the Steelers, 38 to 29

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Philadelphia Eagles v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles did some good things against the Pittsburgh Steelers but it ultimately wasn’t enough to get the win. #Analysis.

Final score: 38 to 29.

The Eagles are now 1-3-1 on the season.

Read on for some observations and postgame thoughts.

FIRST QUARTER

  • John Hightower, Travis Fulgham, and Greg Ward officially started at wide receiver. So, no J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
  • The Eagles’ first drive ended with T.J. Watt sacking Carson Wentz to force a three-and-out. Not a great start for Philly’s offensive line!
  • The Eagles were able to force the Steelers into a punt with the defensive line collapsing the pocket for a group sack on second down before Darius Slay came up with a big hit for a loss on third down. Who said Slay couldn’t tackle?!
  • The Eagles’ second offensive drive was another three-and-out. Wentz notably overthrew John Hightower, who was covered anyway, down the field. Zach Ertz stumbled on what could’ve been a first down conversion. Ugly.
  • The Steelers easily moved into field goal range on their second drive. Slay got called for a very tacky pass interference call on a very late flag. Pretty bad! That penalty brought up goal-to-go. Then Malik Jackson got flagged for unnecessary roughness to bring up 1st-and-goal from the 1.5-yard line. Ben Roethlisberger handed off to Chase Claypool on an end around for the first score of the game. Insurmountable lead? STEELERS 7, EAGLES 0.
  • Wentz had Hightower streaking open deep down the field but the pass was too far out in front with Wentz getting absolutely drilled while he threw. Tough one. No matter, though, because the Eagles ran a coward’s draw on 3rd-and-9 that turned into a 74-yard touchdown run! Definitely how the Eagles drew that one up. Great blocking by JJAW (!) and Greg Ward on the play. STEELERS 7, EAGLES 7.

SECOND QUARTER

  • The Steelers didn’t take long to answer the Eagles’ touchdown. Claypool easily created separation off the line against Jalen Mills and Marcus Epps missed a tackle to allow Pittsburgh’s second touchdown. Pretty bad stuff from those defensive backs. STEELERS 14, EAGLES 7.
  • Wentz threw to Fulgham FIVE TIMES to get the Eagles into the red zone. Safe to say the Eagles have a new No. 1 wide receiver. Wentz hit Ertz on a hot route to bring up 1st-and-goal. Sanders punched it in to tie the game once again. Signs of life from Wentz and the Eagles’ offense! STEELERS 14, EAGLES 14.
  • Slay got hit with another defensive pass interference penalty. This one was more legit than the first. Interesting how the Steelers showed no fear in going after him. The Steelers eventually had to settle for a 41-yard field goal to take the lead once again. STEELERS 17, EAGLES 14.
  • The Eagles took over with 1:57 remaining in the first half. They moved backwards twice with Sanders tackled for a loss and Wentz sacked after holding the ball for an eternity on a three-man rush. On 3rd-and-17, found Fulgham wide open for a first down. Unstoppable! Hightower made a catch where he failed to run out of bounds to stop the clock, costing the Eagles some valuable time. Wentz aired it out deep to Hightower in the end zone but the rookie receiver couldn’t make the play. Shame because Wentz did a great job of buying time and putting the ball where it needed to be; the rookie just didn’t track it properly. Wentz hit JJAW for his first catch of the season, a 37-yard gain ... but it was ultimately meaningless because the Eagles couldn’t get to the line of scrimmage in time to clock the ball for a field goal attempt. Missed opportunity.

THIRD QUARTER

  • Cre’Von LeBlanc failed to tackle Eric Ebron to allow a first down conversion. The Eagles gave up 58 yards to Ray-Ray McCloud (who?) on a reverse. The defense really bit hard on that one to leave themselves vulnerable. Then the Steelers went to Claypool again for his third touchdown of the day. STEELERS 24, EAGLES 14.
  • Just when it was looking like Wentz was playing better, he threw his eight interception of the season. Yikes. Miscommunication with Ertz. Wentz to Ertz is usually money but it has not this season.
  • The Steelers took advantage of the short field with James Connor punching it in on a short touchdown run. Game? STEELERS 31, EAGLES 14.
  • Wentz went to Fulgham ... AGAIN ... for a 31-yard gain on 3rd-and-12. The Eagles moved into the red zone with Quez Watkins drawing a pass interference. Wentz lobbed up a pass to Greg Ward in the end zone for a touchdown, very reminiscent of the play they used to beat Washington in Week 15 last season. The Eagles went for the 2-point conversion and Wentz found Hightower to cut the lead down to nine. Good response by the offense. STEELERS 31, EAGLES 22.
  • Doug Pederson successfully challenged a Claypool reception along the sideline where the rookie beat Slay but just couldn’t keep both feet in. Fortunate break there. The Eagles were able to force a punt. A rare third down stop!
  • Wentz logged back-to-back throws to ... you guessed it ... Fulgham for two first downs to end the third quarter. The guy is a beast!

FOURTH QUARTER

  • Jalen Hurts threw his first NFL pass attempt for an 18-yard completion to Richard Rodgers. Wentz threw another jump ball to Fulgham to put the Eagles in goal-to-go territory. Again, this guy is awesome. Wentz to Fulgham YET AGAIN IN THE END ZONE. Ridiculous! EAGLES 29, STEELERS 31.
  • The Eagles got bailed out on a very weak offensive pass interference penalty on Claypool. We can consider that even for the first DPI on Slay, which was bad. Duke Riley came in for a big hit on Eric Ebron to force a fumble (!) JUST after the tight end established possession for a huge turnover. Scooped by by Strap to allow the Eagles take over at their own 44-yard line. Pretty big!
  • The Eagles motioned Hurts and then ran a sneak with Wentz on 3rd-and-1 for the first down. The Eagles got into another third down but Joe Haden broke up Wentz’s pass for Fulgham. Jake Elliott came in for a 57-yard field goal attempt and it was long enough but went just outside of the right upright. Oh no. Have to wonder if Pederson should’ve went for it at 4th-and-5 from the Steelers’ 39-yard line there?
  • Brandon Graham got called for a big face mask penalty to put the Steelers in Eagles territory. FOX didn’t show a replay. I mean, who would possibly want to see such a crucial call. These awful refs called an Eagles interception on a ball that clearly hit the ground. The Steelers got to 3rd-and-8 and Roethlisberger found a wide open Claypool over the middle for his FOURTH touchdown of the game. 35 yards this time. Shocker that Nathan Gerry, who was lined up over him in the slot, couldn’t cover him! STEELERS 38, EAGLES 29.
  • Jordan Mailata got smoked by Bud Dupree to nearly strip-sack Wentz from behind. Wentz overthrew an open Sanders over the middle. He underthew Ertz as he was being hit. On 4th-and-20, Wentz chucked it down field for his ninth interception of the season. Game.

FINAL SCORE: 38 to 29, Eagles win


RAPID REACTION

  • Not a big fan of moral victories but I will say it’s encouraging that the Eagles have played more inspired football over the past two weeks. The offense did some nice things today. Carson Wentz is no longer playing like the worst quarterback in the league. Positive signs for the rest of the season.
  • Travis Fulgham is the TRUTH. The Eagles must continue to play him moving forward.
  • Not a banner day for Jim Schwartz! Gerry on Claypool is unforgivable.
  • Claypool is a beast. Could’ve been nice if he didn’t go off the board four picks before the Eagles selected Hurts at No. 53 overall.
  • Third down defense was a big issue. The Steelers’ offense went 11 for 15 in that category.
  • Rodney McLeod has been really active over the past couple weeks. Didn’t feel like that was a great re-signing but he’s been looking good.
  • The officiating in this game was not good.
  • Remember when Michael Scott thought that Jerome Bettis was nicknamed “The Bus” because he didn’t like to fly?

INJURIES

  • Fletcher Cox got banged up early in the third quarter.
  • Lane Johnson got carted off later in the third quarter. Not great.
  • Darius Slay got hurt in the fourth quarter.
  • Duke Riley got carted off after coming up with that big forced fumbled.