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Steelers stumble badly in loss to Eagles

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 21 2014 11:00:25 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 22 2014 12:53:04 AM CDT
Philadelphia Eagles helmet

NFL

PHILADELPHIA -

In the final dress rehearsal, the Pittsburgh Steelers were lucky the stage didn't collapse underneath them.

The Philadelphia Eagles dominated the Steelers in the first half, when both teams played their starters, and went on to an easy 31-21 victory Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 3 of the NFL preseason.

Teams traditionally play their starters the most in the third preseason game and then don't play them at all in the fourth and final exhibition. That meant Thursday night was the last chance for the Steelers' regulars to put on a good show, and they fell flat on their facemasks.

The Eagles, behind quarterback Nick Foles, dominated the first half and took a 17-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

"We obviously didn't bring our 'A' game, and that's disappointing," Steelers safety Troy Polamalu said. "They did a good job keeping us off balance, and we didn't respond the way we needed to, so we have a lot to look at in (film study) and a lot of things we can correct."

Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount played Thursday night, one day after they were arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana after the car they were in was pulled over by a traffic officer in Ross Township, Pa. Bell started against the Eagles and finished with 23 yards on nine attempts. Blount gained 32 yards on seven carries.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin declined to comment on the charges, other than to say that he was disappointed and that the arrests had no impact on the game. Bell also refused to talk about the incident and just said he was disappointed in the way his team played.

As for the game, Tomlin said he was displeased even though the result doesn't count.

"Obviously, we don't want to play like that under any circumstances," he said. "We're not going to make any excuses. Now, I'm looking for the proper response to this performance. We're going to challenge them."

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a rough night. He played the entire first half and completed just eight of 17 passes for 60 yards and an interception -- a passer rating of 31.5 -- against the Eagles' No. 1 defense.

Roethlisberger also played two series in the third quarter and finally got on track against the Eagles' second-team defense. He led his offense on a six-play, 79-yard drive, and the Steelers (1-2) scored their first TD on his 27-yard pass to tight end Heath Miller. However, that score merely cut the Eagles' lead to 24-7.

For the night, Roethlisberger completed 15 of 24 passes for 157 yards.

"We couldn't get into a rhythm in the first half, but give them some credit -- they have a good team," Roethlisberger said. "And we didn't quit -- we managed to put together a good drive in the third quarter, and that's something to build on."

Foles played the first two quarters and completed 19 of 29 passes for 179 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He sat out the rest of the game.

Running back LeSean McCoy, who scored the Eagles' first touchdown on a 22-yard screen pass, injured his right thumb during the TD drive. X-rays were negative, but McCoy sat out the rest of the game.

The Eagles (1-2) got on the board first and did so in impressive style, driving 80 yards on 11 plays. On third-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 22-yard line, Foles faked a quick pass to the left side, then wheeled to his right and dropped a screen pass to McCoy. A key block downfield by guard Todd Herremans gave McCoy enough running room to take it all the way to the end zone and give the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 6:12 left in the first quarter.

The Eagles followed that impressive drive with another one -- this time they went 77 yards in 13 plays -- and once again their high-octane offense had the Steelers back on their heels. Philadelphia cashed in when running back Darren Sproles scored on a 1-yard run that made it 14-0 with 12:34 left in the second quarter.

"We got things going in the beginning of the game and got on a good roll," Foles said. "Everyone contributed to this one, and that's a good feeling to have as we get closer and closer to the regular season."

NOTES: The Eagles' newest players, K Cody Parkey and RB Kenjon Barner -- both of whom were in trades acquired this week -- participated Thursday night. Parkey kicked an extra point. Barner gained 32 yards on seven carries and returned a kickoff 22 yards. ... With the addition of Parkey, the Eagles' roster now includes nine former University of Oregon players. Oregon, of course, is where Chip Kelly coached until he joined the Eagles last year. ... Steelers LB Jason Worilds injured his right knee in the third quarter and did not return. ... Two late scratches for the Eagles were CBs Cary Williams and Brandon Boykin, both with sore hamstrings.

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