Tuesday, March 3, 2015

10 observations: Eagles- Steelers

Before we get to my 10 observations, a few notes: First off, Inquirer columnist Ashley Fox will be on for a live chat Monday at noon where she'll take your questions about the Eagles' 15-6 win. Also, don't forget to grade the Eagles. I'll have the results in a blog post some time Monday. And finally, be sure to check out philly.com's Eagles section. The fine folks from The Inquirer and Daily News will have complete coverage from the game, including news on the team's injuries. Now the observations. As always, feel free to chime in with your own: 1. Here's what happened when Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass in the second quarter: sack, sack, 7-yard completion, sack, sack, sack, interception, 8-yard completion, sack, 6-yard gain, incompletion. Of the 11 times he dropped back, Roethlisberger was sacked six times and threw an interception. The story of this game was easy to identify -- the Eagles' defense pressuring Big Ben all game. In all, nine sacks for the Birds. 2. Sav Rocca did his part in helping the Eagles hang on. He pinned the Steelers inside their own 10-yard line twice in the fourth quarter. And on his only other attempt in the quarter, he booted a 64-yard beauty. The Eagles' defense obviously did its part, but it sure helps when Roethlisberger and company were feeling the pressure of being near their own end zone. 3. The optimist says: A banged-up Donovan McNabb and no Brian Westbrook for most of the game, but the Eagles still pulled out a gutsy victory against a team many consider the class of the AFC. This is the defense we're going to see the rest of the year. Blitz and pressure the quarterback. Let the cornerbacks show why they're the strength of the 'D'. Last week the Eagles showed they could play with the NFC's best and compete in a shootout. This week they showed they can beat the AFC's best in a phsyical, defensive battle. 4. The pessimist says: It's shocking that the Eagles didn't blow it. The offense was awful. An interception, five punts and a field goal in the second half? L.J. Smith, Reggie Brown, join us whenever you're ready fellas. If Westbrook is out for even two weeks, this team is in big trouble. And hey, Jim Johnson, any reason we didn't dial up those blitzes last week against the Cowboys?? 5. How about the run defense? The Eagles limited Pittsburgh to 33 rushing yards on 19 attempts, a 1.7 average. Willie Parker had averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 121.5 yards in the first two games. In Week 2, the Eagles held Dallas to 68 yards and 2.8 yards per carry. And in Week 1, the Rams managed just 36 yards and 2.4 yards per carry. 6. Rich Hofmann said it far better than I ever could in his post-game blog, but every Eagles fan is feeling great for Brian Dawkins today. What a play to seal the game and force a Roethlisberger fumble in the fourth quarter. 7. I wish I would have written down the time, but there was a point in the second half (maybe around 6:30 p.m.?) when this could have turned out to be a disastrous Sunday for Philadelphia sports fans. My Dad and I set up two TVs so we could keep an eye on the Phils while I hosted the Eagles chat. There was a point where the Phillies were clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh inning and the Marlins had the bases loaded. Around that same time, the Eagles' offense continued to struggle, and most were thinking it was only a matter of time until the Steelers got the one big score they needed. Fortunately, Clay Condrey got out of the jam for the Phils, and the Birds' defense had enough for the Eagles to come out on top. 8. Last week the Eagles’ defense allowed five plays of 20 yards or more. This week? Just one. And it came late in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard completion from Byron Leftwich to Heath Miller. 9. Phil Simms went nuts about it, and I have to agree with him. With about a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Steelers had a fourth-and-10 at the Eagles’ 22-yard line. They were down by nine points, meaning they needed a field goal and touchdown to win. Rather than kick the field goal, go for the onside kick and then try for the touchdown, the Steelers went for it on fourth down. I don’t get it. You know you need two scores anyway. Why not get the three points and then take your chances? Mike Tomlin had to have been asked about this after the game, I’m sure. 10. My favorite part of the live blog (other than several readers encouraging me to drink to deal with the stress of watching both the Phils and the Eagles) was this comment from Dan when the Eagles’ offense took over after the Roethlisberger fumble: No fake end arounds! Dan was obviously referencing last week's fumble between McNabb and Westbrook against the Cowboys. Literally the next play after his comment, the Eagles ran a real end around to DeSean Jackson. He gained 1 yard before running out of bounds and stopping the clock. Amazing timing.

10 observations: Eagles- Steelers

Before we get to my 10 observations, a few notes:

First off, Inquirer columnist Ashley Fox will be on for a live chat Monday at noon where she'll take your questions about the Eagles' 15-6 win.

Also, don't forget to grade the Eagles. I'll have the results in a blog post some time Monday.

And finally, be sure to check out philly.com's Eagles section. The fine folks from The Inquirer and Daily News will have complete coverage from the game, including news on the team's injuries.

Now the observations. As always, feel free to chime in with your own:

1. Here's what happened when Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass in the second quarter: sack, sack, 7-yard completion, sack, sack, sack, interception, 8-yard completion, sack, 6-yard gain, incompletion. Of the 11 times he dropped back, Roethlisberger was sacked six times and threw an interception. The story of this game was easy to identify -- the Eagles' defense pressuring Big Ben all game. In all, nine sacks for the Birds.

2. Sav Rocca did his part in helping the Eagles hang on. He pinned the Steelers inside their own 10-yard line twice in the fourth quarter. And on his only other attempt in the quarter, he booted a 64-yard beauty. The Eagles' defense obviously did its part, but it sure helps when Roethlisberger and company were feeling the pressure of being near their own end zone.

3. The optimist says:

A banged-up Donovan McNabb and no Brian Westbrook for most of the game, but the Eagles still pulled out a gutsy victory against a team many consider the class of the AFC. This is the defense we're going to see the rest of the year. Blitz and pressure the quarterback. Let the cornerbacks show why they're the strength of the 'D'. Last week the Eagles showed they could play with the NFC's best and compete in a shootout. This week they showed they can beat the AFC's best in a phsyical, defensive battle.

4. The pessimist says:

It's shocking that the Eagles didn't blow it. The offense was awful. An interception, five punts and a field goal in the second half? L.J. Smith, Reggie Brown, join us whenever you're ready fellas. If Westbrook is out for even two weeks, this team is in big trouble. And hey, Jim Johnson, any reason we didn't dial up those blitzes last week against the Cowboys??

5. How about the run defense? The Eagles limited Pittsburgh to 33 rushing yards on 19 attempts, a 1.7 average. Willie Parker had averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 121.5 yards in the first two games. In Week 2, the Eagles held Dallas to 68 yards and 2.8 yards per carry. And in Week 1, the Rams managed just 36 yards and 2.4 yards per carry.

6. Rich Hofmann said it far better than I ever could in his post-game blog, but every Eagles fan is feeling great for Brian Dawkins today. What a play to seal the game and force a Roethlisberger fumble in the fourth quarter.

7. I wish I would have written down the time, but there was a point in the second half (maybe around 6:30 p.m.?) when this could have turned out to be a disastrous Sunday for Philadelphia sports fans. My Dad and I set up two TVs so we could keep an eye on the Phils while I hosted the Eagles chat. There was a point where the Phillies were clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh inning and the Marlins had the bases loaded. Around that same time, the Eagles' offense continued to struggle, and most were thinking it was only a matter of time until the Steelers got the one big score they needed. Fortunately, Clay Condrey got out of the jam for the Phils, and the Birds' defense had enough for the Eagles to come out on top.

8. Last week the Eagles’ defense allowed five plays of 20 yards or more. This week? Just one. And it came late in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard completion from Byron Leftwich to Heath Miller.

9. Phil Simms went nuts about it, and I have to agree with him. With about a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Steelers had a fourth-and-10 at the Eagles’ 22-yard line. They were down by nine points, meaning they needed a field goal and touchdown to win. Rather than kick the field goal, go for the onside kick and then try for the touchdown, the Steelers went for it on fourth down. I don’t get it. You know you need two scores anyway. Why not get the three points and then take your chances? Mike Tomlin had to have been asked about this after the game, I’m sure.

10. My favorite part of the live blog (other than several readers encouraging me to drink to deal with the stress of watching both the Phils and the Eagles) was this comment from Dan when the Eagles’ offense took over after the Roethlisberger fumble:

No fake end arounds!

Dan was obviously referencing last week's fumble between McNabb and Westbrook against the Cowboys. Literally the next play after his comment, the Eagles ran a real end around to DeSean Jackson. He gained 1 yard before running out of bounds and stopping the clock. Amazing timing.

Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
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