It may have been ugly, but a team’s win total at the end of the season does not get extra credit for style points. The Pittsburgh Steelers can be thankful for that fact as they edged the Philadelphia Eagles 16-14. Pittsburgh continued to shoot itself in the foot with costly penalties (9 penalties for 106 yards) and allowing two important fourth down conversions.
In a game where Pittsburgh had more passing yards, rushing yards, sacks, turnovers forced, and time of possession, it took a Shaun Suisham 34-yard field goal as time expired to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Ben Roethlisberger authored his 25th career fourth quarter comeback drive, including two key third down conversions – a 20 yard completion to Antonio Brown on 3rd and 12 from the Pittsburgh 18, and a 7 yard completion to Emmanuel Sanders on 3rd and 4 at the Philadelphia 38.
You Win Some, You Lose Some
Rashard Mendenhall – The Steelers feature running back showed his importance to the team’s gameplan. In Mendenhall’s first game back since he tore an ACL last January, he looked extremely sharp. Mendenhall ran 14 times for 81 yards with a touchdown. Suffice it to say that if #34 were still sidelined that the outcome likely would have been different. #34 was explosive, agile, and a legitimate threat as a ballcarrier and pass receiver.
Steelers Offensive Line – Yes, there were a few needless penalties, but how many games in recent memory did Ben Roethlisberger NOT get sacked? It has been precisely 31 starts since Big Ben was not sacked – week six of 2010 against the Cleveland Browns. The running game averaged OVER four yards per carry (4.4, actually). A great all-around performance, by all accounts.
Pass Rush – The blitzes were dialed up for today’s contest to harass Michael Vick. It only amounted to three sacks for 7 yards. However, it had an incalculable impact on the Eagles passing game. Thanks to the pressure, the Eagles mid to deep passing game was rendered useless.
Big Hits, Quick Hands – Ryan Clark altered the course of the game by forcing Vick to fumble as he approached the goal line midway through the first quarter. Also, Lawrence Timmons swatted loose another Vick fumble just before the conclusion of the first quarter. Larry Foote was “Johnny on the Spot” and recovered each fumble. Neither turnover resulted in Steeler points, but they were critical in preventing Philadelphia from getting on the scoreboard first.
Chris Rainey – A nifty 44-yard kickoff return may not have led to points, but he displayed a flash of the big-play potential seen during the preseason.
Shaun Suisham – Every kicker is supposed to make field goals under 40 yards, but to make a 34-yard game-winning field goal at the open end of Heinz Field with no time remaining is still impressive.
Yellow Flags – Pittsburgh could have stepped on the Eagles’ throats in the first half and taken command of the game, if not for being flagged for mind-numbingly stupid penalties.
More Injuries – The Steelers welcomed back Rashard Mendenhall, James Harrison, and Troy Polamalu from nagging injuries. Unfortunately, Polamalu re-strained his calf and LaMarr Woodley suffered a strained hamstring. Their availability for Thursday night’s game at the Titans is unknown.
Fourth Down Tackling – Pittsburgh tackled solidly, but gave Philadelphia more than a fighting chance by not getting LeSean McCoy on the ground when he was dead to rights with multiple players (including Lawrence Timmons) having a chance to close out the game.
About the Author
Written by Rob Stroup
I grew up in western Pennsylvania, so I have followed the Pittsburgh sports teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) since the womb. It has become a tradition to make the yearly trek to a Steelers and Penguins game each year despite the distance. I hope to make writing a profession because I thoroughly enjoy attempting to paint a picture with words.