Thursday night’s pre-season NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles wasn’t meant to be a Super Bowl-type matchup, at least in Coach Mike Tomlin’s mind. Heading into the game Coach Tomlin’s main goal was to discover who had learned enough on the practice field in Latrobe to convert it into a true NFL experience. While a loss in pre-season isn’t necessarily what fans want to see, the test is more important than the final score.
Prior to the game in Philadelphia, Coach Tomlin said, “No questions that this (game) is going to reveal some things to us, particularly from a football conditioning standpoint. That’s something that always jumps out at us.” The goal for everyone wearing black and gold on that Philly field was to show whether they could handle the nerves of a big stadium game, how well they’ve been keeping in shape and the level of intensity they could bring onto the big stage.
Although quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was hurried and saw the turf twice on the Steelers’ first offensive series, he got back up in traditional Roethlisberger style and turned the next two plays into positives. Issac Redman took a hand off for a 3-yard gain on a fourth-and-1 situation and receiver Emmanuel Sanders was able to make a 17-yard reception on a third-and-9 play. These types of situations have been worked on extensively in practice, and the first team appeared to be prepared to take it to the next level.
A stand-out at training camp thus far in 2012, defensive tackle Steve McLendon was fired up against the Eagles. McLendon beat a double-team by the Eagles’ offensive line in time to find Michael Vick and get a sack in the first half. Overall McLendon accounted for three tackles, including one for a loss.
The Steelers played a total of three quarterbacks, had seven different players with rushing yards, eight different players with receiving yards, three kickoff/return specialists, two kickers and such a mixture of defensive players and offensive linemen that the box score read like an all-you-can-eat buffet menu. That’s good news. It meant that Tomlin was serious about testing every possible athlete he could.
Jerrod Johnson saw the most action at quarterback, completing three-of-six passes for 93 yards and one interception. After Roethlisberger’s seven-of-eight pass showing early in the game for 49 yards, Byron Leftwich completed three-of-five passes for 14 yards and one interception.
Behind an ever-changing offensive line, Johnson had his share of sack attacks as well. The Eagles posted seven total in the game. The offensive line of Kelvin Beachum, Ryan Lee, John Malecki, Chris Scott and Kyle Jolly showed that they did not have a cohesive unit. During the third quarter the Steelers were only able to gain 71 total yards on offense, 57 of which came on a screen play to Chris Rainey. J. Johnson scrambled from his quarterback position for 16 more.
The Steelers dominated the Eagles in the first half, entering the locker rooms with a 13-0 lead. The Steelers led the Eagles in stats with nine first downs, 101 total yards and a time of possession of 19 minutes and 53 seconds. The Steelers also held the Eagles to only one third-down conversion.
The Steelers started to fall apart a bit early in the third quarter when Eagles quarterback Nick Foles found Damarius Johnson open for a 70-yard touchdown pass-and-catch. Foles again scored on a 44-yard pass to receiver Mardy Gilyard. Ultimately, it was Trent Edward’s pass for a touchdown to Jamel Hamler that sealed the game for Philadelphia, 24-23.
Defensive end Al Woods jumped a screen route intended for Bryce Brown and was able to intercept Eagles quarterback Mike Kafka and return it for 54 yards. Cornerbacks Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen both broke up passes. Chris Rainey, another speedy standout at training camp, showed that he has big-play speed and took a 57-yard screen pass from Jerrod Johnson for a touchdown. Rookie Marquiz Maze also showed good speed and logged one kickoff return for 28 yards and two punt returns. A now healthy Barron Batch had 19 carries in the game for 41 yards.
While rookie offensive lineman Mike Adams earned a starting spot at left tackle, his play was spotty. After allowing two sacks (both to Phillip Hunt), Adams injured his right knee and was forced to leave the game. Jamie McCoy received two penalties for illegal block in the back on two consecutive punts from the Eagles. Myron Rolle and Damon Cromartie-Smith both had missed tackles that resulted in an Eagles touchdown.
FB – David Johnson – “severe” knee injury (per Coach Tomlin)
OL – Mike Adams – knee injury
RB – Jonathan Dwyer – AC sprain to shoulder
- McLendon is Digest Player of the Week – Steelers.com
- Labriola on preseason opener – Steelers.com
- Coach Mike Tomlin on loss to Eagles – Steelers.com
- Jerrod Johnson – Beam Machine of the Week – ‘The Beam’ in Pittsburgh
- Full box score – NFL.com
Subscribe to get instant updates on the Pittsburgh Steelers on pingroof.com
- Are you on Facebook? Follow Christina or on Twitter @3Rivers_Writer
- Read Christina’s Training Camp 2012 Journal
- Other Steelers news from Pittsburgh Sports Examiner, Matt Pawlikowski and Newark NFL Examiner Matthew Marczi
‘THE BEAM’ in Pittsburgh – Play the #GreatSteelersScavengerHunt game today and enter the contest – free to play with great prizes! (Not associated with pingroof.com)
NFL Examiners on Facebook — AFC North Examiners on Facebook
Get news on other NFL teams and football on pingroof.com