The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 15-6 in a game which redefined the term “ugly.” Nothing about this contest was pleasant to look at. The offense was ugly. The injuries were ugly. The food they showed was ugly. The city skyline was ugly. Even the cheerleaders looked like a bunch of skanks.
Where to even begin with this one? I don’t mind having my blog overrun by mouth-breathing Philly fans, although I admit I’m surprised that so many know how to read and write (however poorly). Beside the final score, I have no idea what they feel compelled to brag about. Their team scored a whopping one touchdown. If this is the kind of victory you are proud of, well, no wonder why your team has never won anything.
My original idea was to use this recap to illustrate why Steelers RB Willie Parker is superior to overrated Eagles scatback Brian Westbrook. So much for the best laid plans… Westbrook went down early in the game with some sort of sprained ankle and never returned. These sort of soft and gutless players are another reason Philthydelphia is doomed to never win a championship. Fast Willie did nothing to help my case, however, rushing for 20 yards on 13 carries. Ouch.
The Steelers D played extremely well yet again. They had some problems in the first half as even without Westbrook, the Eagles executed their inane dink-and-dunk strategy to perfection. I said in my preview that Steeler LBs were going to struggle covering their RBs. I gave our backers too much credit. They didn’t struggle, they completely failed. Only a fumble recovery and an interception off a terrible throw by QB Donovan McNabb prevented 14 points being put on the board. CB Bryant McFadden was the man responsible for both those acquisitions as he had an excellent game in his 2nd career start. S Troy Polamalu had an incredible pick (his third in three games) later on, thus pretty much establishing he’s back to his old Tasmanian Devil self. D-coordinator Dick Lebeau made his usual intelligent halftime adjustments causing the Philly offense to sputter in the second half.
Unfortunately, the other Steeler coaches left their brains back in Pittsburgh. QB Ben Roethlisberger at one point was sacked SIX TIMES on eight consecutive pass attempts. He went down 8 times in total and was harassed, chased, and/or knocked down at least two dozen more. Memo to Mike Tomlin: When your QB is on his back more often than one of the Philly Cheerleaders, that would be the time to make some ADJUSTMENTS.
Perhaps we could’ve tried running the ball. Parker’s scant 13 carries were spread out randomly over the entire game. No concentrated effort was made to establish a ground attack. Worse yet, rookie RB Rashard Mendenhall once again didn’t get any carries. Why did we draft him if we’re just going to use him on kickoffs? Nice pick, Tomlin. Beyond that, we’re carrying three TEs on the roster. If the Eagles are blitzing every other play (which they seemingly did), bring them out and go into a max protect formation. The Steelers didn’t do this until late in the 3rd quarter, by which time Ben was beat up and out of synch. Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians must’ve watched the Monday Night tape and forgot he coaches the Steelers and not the Cowboys because he kept sending our receivers (specifically Nate Washington, who actually contributed a little something today) on deep patterns, even after it became clear Ben wasn’t getting the time to look down the field. Instead of cutting off the patterns or going to a three step drop, he just kept dialing up the same idiotic plays leading to the same Wile E. Coyote-esque results.
Needless to say, the play of our offensive linemen was atrocious, surrendering 9 sacks, terrible run blocking, non-existent pass-blocking, and a general lack of competence in every area. RT Willie Colon allowed so much penetration he should change his name to Colonoscopy. C Justin Hartwig blew a number of assignments and was treated like a human traffic cone all day. I gave him a pass last week because Shaun Rodgers is a massive human being but if he needs double-team help every week, he’s useless to us. RB Mewelde Moore and FB Carey Davis were no help at picking up blitzers, either. The NFL is a copycat league and if word gets around about that, Ben better get used to waking up Monday morning with grass stains on his ass.
Speaking of Big Ben, the shitty offensive line doesn’t let him completely off the hook. He was back to his old tricks of holding on to the ball for way too long in a vain and misguided attempt to make something out of nothing. There is no dishonor in throwing the ball away so as not to get beheaded by an onrushing DT. Several times he sidestepped the pressure or moved out of the pocket only to look downfield, then take another look, then one more look for good measure, then…get dumped to the turf for a sack. Somehow, he’s never learned you only get 2-4 seconds to step up and let the ball go before somebody is on top of you. His magical Flutie-esque escapes often lead to big plays but the opposite result, which we saw yesterday, leads to big losses, fumbles, and eventually a serious injury.
As bad as it is to lose to the Iggles, and believe me, having to read a week’s worth of comments by their mutant fans was painful enough, I’m more upset by the general direction of this team. Everything clicked against the Texans but, c’mon, they’re the Texans. Last week, we defeated the hapless 0-3 Browns but there were ominous warning signs such as the pressure Ben was under or the fact we only put up one TD. This week we played one of the top Defensive Coordinators in the league and everything fell apart. We’re in an extraordinarily bad division so we don’t have to abandon playoff hopes or anything like that. However, unless this teams starts coming up with some answers for the questions we knew they were going to have about the offensive line, we’re going to be doomed to ultimate failure. Ask any Philly sports fan how that feels, they know what it’s like.