The Eagles remained the only undefeated team in the NFL after their dominant 35-13 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. It has a nice ring that continues to chime over and over, “the only undefeated team in the NFL.”
The Eagles are 7-0 for the first since 2004, when they won the NFC championship before losing to the New England Patriots, 24-21, in Super Bowl XXXIX.
This is the second time in franchise history the Eagles have started the season 7-0. In 2004, the Eagles’ winning streak, ironically, was snapped by the Steelers, in Pittsburgh.
The Eagles this season have yet to trail in the second half.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts and receiver A.J. Brown put on a show, combining for six completions for 156 yards and three touchdowns. Hurts threw a career-best four touchdowns and 285 yards, completing 19 of 28 and doing it with precision throws, placing the ball in places where only his receivers could get to them.
In seven games, the Eagles have turned the ball over twice, while causing an NFL-high 16 turnovers (10 interceptions, six fumble recoveries) for plus-14 in turnover ratio, after Avonte Maddox’s fourth-quarter fumble recovery and C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s fourth interception.
By winning, Hurts achieved a franchise record with the longest regular-season winning streak by an Eagles’ quarterback with 10-straight, eclipsing the previous mark of nine that he shared with Hall of Famer Norm Van Brocklin (1960), Donovan McNabb (2003) and his predecessor, Carson Wentz (2017).
The Eagles held the Steelers to one of 12 on third-down conversions, ending the game by holding the Steelers without a third-down conversion 10-straight times.
The 2022 Eagles look unbeatable—because right now, they are.
There was an overflow of good, mixed with light touches of bad and ugly in the Eagles’ 35-13 thrashing of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Eagles’ first series on defense. Tackle Jordan Davis pulled down Najee Harris from behind for no gain on the first play of the game, tackle Javon Hargrave tripped up Kenny Pickett for a yard gain on second down, and linebacker Haason Reddick’s eight-yard sack ended the drive at the Steelers’ 18.
The Eagles’ first series on offense. Hurts was five for seven for 60 yards, leading the Eagles to a 7-0 lead on a nine-play, 68-yard drive. The Eagles converted one of two third downs and a crucial fourth-and-two at the Pittsburgh 44, which the Eagles executed perfectly. They had the Steelers defense going one way on a play-action to Miles Sanders, while Hurts completed a short five-yard pass to tight end Dallas Goedert at the Pittsburgh 39. Two plays later, they went up top to A.J. Brown for a 39-yard touchdown pass.
Receiver A.J. Brown on his mid-air adjustment between Steelers’ strong safety Terrell Edmunds and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on his 39-yard touchdown pass from Hurts on the Eagles’ first drive. Brown timed the catch perfectly, leaping right in front of Fitzpatrick.
Going slightly unnoticed was center Jason Kelce chipping linebacker Devin Bush on the Hurts-to-Brown 39-yard touchdown pass. Kelce made sure Bush was reminded of it after the play.
Brown’s second touchdown catch, a 27-yard reception, over the right shoulder beating Steelers’ cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon to the pylon on a third-and-eight play.
Hurts’ 27-yard touchdown pass to Brown was perfectly thrown—as was the 29-yard touchdown toss. After his third TD pass, left tackle Jordan Mailata playfully raised his hands and with a big smirk on his face bowed to Hurts with the Eagles holding a big 21-7 lead.
Cornerback Avonte Maddox taking down Steven Sims on a first-and-15 at the Pittsburgh 12. Maddox read it brilliantly on the Steelers’ third drive.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox taking down Harris on a second-and-18 on the Steelers’ nine on the Steelers’ third series.
Brown’s third touchdown catch, again amazing, this time between Witherspoon and Fitzpatrick. Slow the play down and you’ll see that it’s even more remarkable. Witherspoon had his left hand pulling down on the crux Brown’s left arm—and Brown still had the strength to catch the ball. Brown was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty after the play for pointing to Witherspoon and Fitzpatrick. It was a 29-yard touchdown on a first-and-10. By then, who cared? Brown finished the half with five catches for 113 yards and three touchdowns—numbers most NFL receivers would wish they had for an entire game.
Through three quarters, the Eagles’ defense held Pittsburgh to one-for-10 on third-down conversions, which included a string of eight-straight third-down attempts.
Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave’s nine-yard strip sack on first-and-10 at the Eagles’ 36, which was recovered by Maddox at the Eagles’ 38. It squashed what the faint hopes the Steelers had of coming back with 13:30 left to play. The fumble led to Mile Sanders’ 11-yard touchdown run and a 35-13 lead.
Guard Isaac Seumalo kicking out linebacker Alex Highsmith on Sanders’ fourth-quarter touchdown run. Left tackle Mailata consuming, it looked like, Steelers’ defensive tackle Cameron Hayward, who threw his arms up looking for a holding call seven yards down the field. By then, Sanders was in the end zone.
Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson 11-yard sack on third-and-five at the Eagles’ 40. The Steelers were one of 11 on third-down conversions—going nine-straight drives at the time preventing the Steelers from getting a first down. Gardner-Johnson later made his fourth interception of the season on third-and-seven from the Eagles’ 20. Linebacker T.J. Edwards made it possible by deflecting the Pickett pass. That made it 1/12 for the Steelers on third-down conversions and 10-straight times the Eagles stopped them on that critical down.
Cornerbacks James Bradberry and Maddox missing Steelers’ receiver Diontae Johnson on a 14-yard catch on a second-and-10 at the Steelers’ 25 on their second possession. It was Pittsburgh’s first first down of the game and seemed to imbue a sense of confidence into Steelers’ rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett.
The Steelers second possession was not a good series for Bradberry. He was hit with a holding call (somewhat debatable) on a second-and-seven at the Steelers’ 42, negating a nine-yard sack by Brandon Graham. The Eagles went from forcing the Steelers into a third-and-16 to facing a Steelers’ first-and-10 at the 47. The Steelers didn’t help themselves by being flagged for a delay of game the next play. Bradberry was later burned when he lost Derek Watt in the end zone, after receiver Chase Claypool flicked a one-yard touchdown pass to Watt on fourth-and-goal for the Steelers’ only TD.
The Eagles’ defense on the Steelers second drive. Pickett was six-for-six for 53 yards, completing passes to six different receivers. Pittsburgh gained many of its yards right through the middle of the field. It was a 13-play, 75-yard that consumed 7:26 of the first-quarter clock. It served two purposes: It brought Pittsburgh back, momentarily—and kept the Eagles’ offense off the field.
Defensive end Brandon Graham getting called for a rare “defensive” delay of game, when he tried to trick the Steelers into snapping the ball early on fourth-and-goal at the Eagles’ two. The half-distance penalty made Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin rethink the field goal and go for the touchdown, which resulted in the Claypool-to-Watt one-yard score and 7-7 tie.
If there is a dent in the Eagles, it could be on special teams. The Eagles’ special team allowed a first down on fourth-and-two at the Steelers’ 33. Marcus Allen took a direct snap up the middle for four yards prolonging Pittsburgh’s first drive of the second half. This time, in a regular-season game with the Eagles leading big, it could go ignored. Later in the season, when the stakes are far greater, it could mean the end of what is turning into a special season.
In an odd stat line, the Steelers were 4-for-4 on fourth down and one-of-12 on third down. Two of the fourth-down conversions came in Pittsburgh’s first drive of the second half. One on fourth-and-three at the Eagles’ 41, when Pickett hit Harris for a nine-yard gain.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.