Instant Observations: Eagles vs. Steelers
Here’s what I saw during tonight’s Eagles-Steelers game.
* Michael Vick suffered a left thumb injury in the second quarter. He played two series’ – both three-and-outs. Vick was 3-for-4 for 6 yards. He also was sacked by defensive lineman Steve McLendon, who threw Vick to the ground in the first quarter.
* Jeremy Maclin suffered a hamstring injury during warm-ups and was a late scratch. Damaris Johnson took his place in the starting lineup and had four catches for 85 yards. He also had an electrifying 55-yard punt return, but it was called back for an illegal block in the back.
* Nick Foles was the bright spot offensively. In the third quarter, he escaped pressure, rolled to his right and hit Johnson for a 70-yard touchdown. By my count, the ball traveled about 43 yards in the air. Later in the quarter, he showed good touch, hitting Mardy Gilyard for a 44-yard score down the left sideline.
* Mike Kafka came into the game in the second quarter and went 5-for-9 for 31 yards. He was also intercepted on a designed screen pass. Kafka was under pressure and let go of the ball, looking for Bryce Brown, but defensive tackle Al Woods picked it off and returned it 53 yards.
* Dion Lewis had four carries for 22 yards in the first half, including a nice 12-yard scamper.
* Bryce Brown had a nice 33-yard run in the third, shaking a pair of tackles and making his way down the left sideline.
* Brandon Boykin had a great 46-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. He fielded the ball 8 yards deep in the end zone but took it all the way to the Eagles’ 38. As a point of reference, Lewis’ longest return last year was 33 yards.
* To say Jaiquawn Jarrett had a bad first half would be an understatement. Jarrett had a chance to make an impression, getting the start for an injured Nate Allen, but the results were not pretty. He missed a pair of tackles and took a couple horrible angles on running plays, once flying into defensive end Vinny Curry. Jarrett, Nnamdi Asomugha and Brian Rolle also left Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders wide open on Pittsburgh’s second-quarter touchdown.
* The first-team defensive line featured Cullen Jenkins at left defensive end, Antonio Dixon and Derek Landri at defensive tackle, and Darryl Tapp at right defensive end. But Jenkins suffered a hamstring injury in the first half and left the game.
* The second-team defensive line was Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton and Phillip Hunt. Hunt and Graham met at Ben Roethlisberger on one play. Hunt picked up the sack, and it looked like Graham might have forced a fumble. Hunt had two sacks, and Graham was credited with one.
* I noticed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie lining up at right cornerback on one play and Asomugha on the left. We’re definitely going to see some of that this season.
* Good coverage on Sanders by Rodgers-Cromartie in the first quarter, as Roethlisberger took a shot at him deep. Rodgers-Cromartie also drew a personal foul penalty for launching himself at Leftwich.
* Mychal Kendricks was very active, starting on the strong side. He was credited with five tackles (four solo), and two for loss. Kendricks stayed on the field in nickel situations with DeMeco Ryans.
* The second-team linebackers had Casey Matthews in the middle, with Akeem Jordan at SAM and Keenan Clayton at WILL.
* Landri pressured Leftwich on one play, and Tapp and Rolle finished him off for a sack.
* Asomugha made a couple good tackles against the run, a welcome sight after last season.