A second look at the Eagles’ 16-14 loss to the Steelers:
One of the unfortunate things about Mike Vick’s latest two turnovers Sunday was that they overshadowed what otherwise was a terrific performance by the Eagles quarterback. Consider:
--He had his best passer rating (104.2) and second best completion percentage (.666) of the season.
--For the second straight game, he didn’t throw an interception, which is something he hadn’t done since 2010, when he went seven games without throwing a pick.
--He did an outstanding job against the Steelers’ blitz, completing 11 of 16 passes for 123 yards and two TD passes when Pittsburgh sent extra rushers.
--He outdueled the league’s best third-down passer, Ben Roethlisberger, on third down. Roethlisberger, who entered the game with a 145.1 third-down passer rating, completed just 7 of 12 passes for 70 yards and no touchdowns on third down, though two of those seven completions came on the Steelers’ game-winning drive. Vick was 4-for-6 for 40 yards and a touchdown on third down against the Steelers. He is fourth in the league in third-down passing with a 103.9 rating.
--He followed a 5-for-6, 64-yard fourth-quarter performance against the Giants with an 8-for-11, 59-yard, 1 TD fourth-quarter effort against the Steelers.
--Last but not least, with the exception of that costly fumble at the one-yard line, he was effective in the red zone against the Steelers, completing 4 of 5 passes for 35 yards and throwing 2 TD passes.
THE REAL MCCOY
LeSean McCoy’ 53 rushing yards were his lowest total of the season. But he made the most of those yards. He had seven rushing first downs on his 16 carries. That’s the most rushing first downs he’s had since Week 1 when he had eight against the Browns. And he converted four of five short-yard situations (two yards or less) into first downs, including two big fourth-and-ones on the Eagles’ 17-play, 79-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that gave them a 14-13 lead.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE
Tackles Todd Herremans and Demetress Bell had pretty solid games, but their interior three – guards Danny Watkins and Evan Mathis and center Dallas Reynolds – were up and down. Watkins still looks lost out there much of the time. On the first of the Steelers’ three sacks of Vick, they brought linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley from the same side, with Timmons coming on a delay. Watkins should have been responsible for Timmons, but never saw him. He was helping Reynolds with defensive end Ziggy Hood and Timmons had an unobstructed path to Vick. Vick’s third fumble of the game in the third quarter came when nose tackle Steve McLendon came between Watkins and Reynolds and hit Vick. On a third-and-four run by McCoy in the fourth quarter, Watkins just didn’t assert himself like he should be able to considering his size and strength. Instead of doing the pushing, he was getting pushed.
On the Steelers’ second sack of Vick, they overloaded the left side with safety Ryan Clark and linebackers Cam Heyward and Jason Worilds. Reynolds should have recognized the overload and slid the line in that direction, but he didn’t. McCoy picked up Clark, rather than the inside rusher, Worilds, who came clean. Herremans picked up Heyward. That’s a play where Vick has to recognize the overload and get the ball out if the line isn’t going to slide.
In the third quarter, Mathis and Bell didn’t handle a twist by Brett Keisel and James Harrison very well. Mathis stayed on Keisel rather than passing him off Bell and picking up Harrison. Harrison came through unblocked and forced an incompletion. On the next play, Keisel just blew by Mathis, flushed Vick out of the pocket and forced another incompletion and a three-and-out punt.
THIS AND THAT
--I’m not sure why the Eagles don’t use No. 2 tight end Clay Harbor more in the passing game. He had a game-winning touchdown catch against the Browns in Week 1. He got open in the end zone on the play before Vick’s catastrophic fumble at the one-yard line at the end of the first half against Arizona. And he set up Vick’s two-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek Sunday with an eight-yard gain on a middle screen on the previous play. Yet, he’s got just six catches in five games.
--On the touchdown pass to Celek, the Eagles lined up in a four-wide receiver, no-back, one-tight end set. They lined up Jason Avant, Jeremy Maclin and Damaris Johnson on the right side and put DeSean Jackson on the left wing, right behind Celek. Jackson ran an out route, leaving Celek one-on-one with safety Ryan Mundy.
--Vick nearly threw an interception on the Eagles’ second possession. Timmons came on a delayed blitz on the play. McCoy picked him up, but got knocked on his butt. As Timmons closed on him, Vick tried to throw it out of bounds, but it didn’t quite make it. Safety Ryan Clark would have picked if off if not for a fine play by DeSean Jackson to knock the ball away.
--You saw the difference between Dallas Reynolds and Jason Kelce on a McCoy run to the left side early in the second quarter. The omnipresent Timmons shot the gap and Reynolds just wasn’t quite quick enough to get to him and put a body on him. Timmons tackled McCoy for a two-yard loss.
--Nnamdi Asomugha spent much of the game covering Antonio Brown, while Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie guarded Mike Wallace.