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FINAL SCORE: Jalen Hurts solid in Eagles’ preseason loss to Steelers, 24-16

Read on for a recap of Thursday night’s game.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles kicked off their 2021 preseason schedule with a home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Eagles jumped out to a 13 to 0 lead before the backup defense blew it en route to a loss. Final score: 24 to 16. But, hey, the result doesn’t matter! Read on for some things that do. Also, check out BGN Radio’s postgame coverage LIVE on YouTube.

STARTING OFFENSE

First drive: The Eagles won the coin toss and elected to receive (not defer, like Doug Pederson always used to do). The starting offensive line, from left to right: Jordan Mailata, Sua Opeta, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson. Hurts’ first pass was an 8-yard completion over the middle to Zach Ertz. Hurts’ second pass was thrown with anticipation to find Dallas Goedert on a post for a 34-yard gain. Pretty nice! Hurts’ third pass was dropped by Jalen Reagor. Womp. The throw was low but still entirely catchable. Ertz also dropped a third down pass to bring up a 47-yard field goal attempt for Jake Elliott, who made the kick. Decent opening drive.

Second drive: Jack Driscoll replaced Brooks at right guard. Hurts had Quez Watkins deep but the throw was off target. A more accurate throw could’ve been a 98-yard touchdown. Hurts took off running on a 3rd-and-6 for only four yards. Punt.

STARTING DEFENSE

First drive: Derek Barnett, not Josh Sweat, officially got the start at defensive end. JuJu Smith-Schuster beat Darius Slay on a slant route for a first down. Javon Hargrave did a nice job of generating interior pressure to get a quarterback hit on Mason Rudolph. On 3rd-and-11, Hargrave hurried Rudolph into a short throw that was incomplete.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Quez Watkins was back as the Eagles’ first kick returner.

Jalen Reagor was back as the Eagles’ first punt returner. He decided to not to field his first two punt attempts, which led to the Steelers pinning the Eagles deep in their own territory.

Elijah Riley made the tackle on the Eagles’ first kickoff. With K’Von Wallace getting hurt, Riley could have a good shot at making the roster.

Arryn Siposs’s first punt didn’t look good coming off his foot but a favorable roll helped it go 55 yards.

Jake Elliot went 2/2 on field goal attempts. Aside from one bad practice, he’s been perfect this summer.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside made a special teams tackle on kickoff coverage. Important for him to show up in this capacity as he pushes for a WR5/WR6 spot.

Jason Huntley was the second kick returner. He had a nice 35-yard return on a play where the Eagles got an extra five yards from an offside penalty on the Steelers.

Jhamon Ausbon missed a tackle on punt return coverage. Lavert Hill ended up notching a tackle for a 7-yard loss after the Steelers’ returner ran backwards.


THE QUARTERBACKS

Jalen Hurts: 3/7 (42.9%), 54 yards (7.7 average), 0 TD, 0 INT, 69.9 passer rating

Hurts’ numbers would’ve looked better had he not suffered two drops. Also would’ve looked better if he didn’t miss the deep throw to Watkins. Overall, a solid showing for the second-year quarterback in his first preseason game.

Joe Flacco: 10/17 (58.8%), 178 yards (10.5 average), 1 TD, 0 INT, 114.3 passer rating

Flacco looked good going up against the Steelers’ backup defense. The veteran quarterback did veteran quarterback things, making smart decisions with the ball to keep it out of harm’s way. Some quality throws but nothing overly flashy.

Nick Mullens: 1/5 (20%), 4 yards (0.8 average), 0 TD, 2 INT, 0.0 passer rating

Mullens has really cooled off following his hot start to camp. Yikes. Definitely not pushing for a spot on the roster at this rate.


BACKUP OFFENSE

Third drive: Joe Flacco came in. He hit Watkins on a short pass that the receiver took 79 yards to the house! That was cool. Great blocking, for sure, but Quez had the speed outrun defenders and take it all the way. Said it before and I’ll say it again: Watkins is having the best training camp of any Eagles wide receiver. He’s the second best on the team behind DeVonta Smith.

Fourth drive: Flacco hit Reagor, who caught the football this time, for a first down. Nice route to get open. Tyree Jackson dropped a low throw from Flacco that would’ve given the Eagles a first down. Elliott nailed his second 47-yard field goal of the night.

Fifth drive: Nothing cooking. Three-and-out.

Sixth drive: Flacco did a nice job of running a two-minute drill against the Steelers’ backups. A 19-yard completion to Jackson — Flacco’s favorite target — put the Eagles into Steelers territory. Kenny Gainwell dropped a throw right to his hands on a Texas route. Elliott came on for a 50-yard field goal and made it.

Seventh drive: Flacco came out of the game to make way for Nick Mullens. Mullens threw a pick on a play where either he got rid of the ball too quick and/or Jackson got out of his break too late.

Eighth drive: Three-and-out after a ball went through Huntley’s hands.

Ninth drive: Huntley had a big run called back by not one but two holding penalties. The play didn’t count but Huntley’s speed is apparent. The Eagles ended up having to punt.

Tenth drive: Mullens’ 3rd-and-11 throw was picked off. Methinks the Eagles might only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

BACKUP DEFENSE

Second drive: In shades of last year, Michael Jacquet got burned for a big Steelers gain. The defense ultimately settled in to force a punt.

Third drive: T.Y. McGill straight up drove his blocker back into Rudolph to get a sack and force a punt. McGill continues to shine and look worthy of a roster spot. Milton Williams also generated good pressure on that play.

Fourth drive: Dwayne Haskins came in at quarterback. The Steelers went three-and-out. Shocker.

Fifth drive: The Steelers methodically drove into goal-to-go territory. Eagles linebackers (Shaun Bradley and T.J. Edwards) couldn’t get off blocks to stop the run. Zech McPhearson knocked a would-be touchdown pass out of a receiver’s hands but got called for pass interference. Looked like the right call.

Sixth drive: Haskins led the Steelers into Eagles territory. JaQuan Bailey being offside gave Pittsburgh a free play and Haskins found a wide open target in the end zone for an easy touchdown. Blown coverage.

Seventh drive: Rashad Smith badly missed an open field tackle on Jaylen Samuels. The Steelers put another long touchdown drive together to take the lead. Not a good showing by the third string defense!

Eighth drive: Josiah Scott knocked down a poor Haskins pass over the middle. Nearly could’ve been picked. The Eagles’ defense allowed the Steelers to drive into goal-to-go range yet again but kept them to a short field goal this time. A miracle!

Ninth drive: Haskins came out of the game to make way for Joshua Dobbs. Dobbs threw a pick to Elijah Riley, who jumped a short route for the interception. A good game for No. 39.

Tenth drive: The Steelers drove into goal-to-go territory and ran out of the clock with victory formation.


INJURY UPDATES

Rookie seventh-round pick Patrick Johnson got banged up late in the fourth quarter. He was able to walk off the field on his own power.


UP NEXT

The Eagles have off tomorrow on Friday, August 13 before returning to training camp practice at 10:00 AM on Saturday, August 14. As always, stay tuned to BGN for more Eagles coverage.