Observations: Eagles Vs. Steelers

NFL: Preseason-Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles

Here’s what we saw during tonight’s game:


* Nick Foles was off-target early, but settled down, going 19-for-29 for 179 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The starters put together an 11-play, 80-yard drive in the first and a 13-play, 77-yard drive in the second.

* LeSean McCoy carried four times for 24 yards and caught two passes for 26 yards, including a 22-yard TD on a screen. Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce threw great blocks downfield on the play. McCoy also had a 15-yard run on a sweep where Herremans did an excellent job pulling and taking out the defensive back. McCoy left with a thumb injury. He had X-rays taken, but they were negative.

* Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin started on the outside. Cooper had three grabs for 25 yards. Maclin had six catches for 43 yards. Scary moment in the second. Maclin planted awkwardly and crumbled to the ground, grabbing his right knee. But he ended up only missing one play before returning. Cooper, meanwhile, was called for offensive pass interference on one play. He dropped a touchdown in the end zone on another play.

* On the first series, Foles missed Jordan Matthews wide, Maclin short and Cooper high. He also nearly fumbled on a zone read packaged play where he kept the ball.

* Brent Celek continues to make catches downfield and absorb big hits. He had a 23-yarder where his helmet got knocked off and another 18-yarder. Celek ran a great post-corner route against Troy Polamalu, but Foles overthrew him.

* Zach Ertz had a pair of grabs for 24 yards. He beat athletic rookie LB Ryan Shazier on one play.

* It looked like Allen Barbre got beaten a couple times early in pass protection.

* Darren Sproles saw his most extensive action of the preseason. He had six carries for 33 yards and a TD.

* The Eagles’ second-team offense tore through the Steelers’ starters, putting together a nine-play, 60-yard drive and a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Mark Sanchez was on point once again, completing seven of nine passes for 85 yards. His best throw was a 25-yarder down the seam to Trey Burton.

* Perhaps the biggest surprise of the preseason has been the Eagles’ second-team offensive line. The offense ran the ball at will in the third quarter against Pittsburgh. Matthew Tucker had runs of 12 and 15. He got in the end zone twice and finished with 10 carries for 46 yards.

* Arrelious Benn left the game in the third quarter because of a head injury.

* Henry Josey had a long TD run called back because of a penalty on B.J. Cunningham. On the replays, it looked like a good block.


* The defense turned in its best performance of the preseason, shutting the Steelers’ first-team offense out. The standout player was Mychal Kendricks. He had four tackles, a pass defended and pressured Ben Roethlisberger three times. Kendricks flew in on a blitz early and helped force an incompletion. Later, he blew by the left guard, and Nolan Carroll II came away with an interception. Kendricks hit Roethlisberger on another blitz and made a nice tackle in space against speedster Dri Archer.

* Bradley Fletcher and Carroll started on the outside with Cary Williams sidelined. Fletcher continues to draw illegal contact penalties.

* The Eagles used a lot of their dime package with Fletcher, Williams, Jaylen Watkins and Roc Carmichael. Kendricks is the only inside linebacker on the field in this package.

* Cedric Thornton blew up a couple of run plays early.

* DeMeco Ryans got whistled for a personal foul on a big hit over the middle where he unloaded on a receiver running a slant. Malcolm Jenkins was later called for unsportsmanlike conduct for knocking the ball out of Antonio Brown’s hands after the play.

* Jenkins had a diving attempt in coverage and nearly came away with an interception.

* Brandon Graham beat the left tackle and had a strip sack on the final drive of the first half.

* Roethlisberger went 8-for-17 for 60 yards and an interception in the first half. Overall, he was 15-for-24 for 157 yards, a TD and an INT.

* The Eagles’ backups competed against Pittsburgh’s starters in the third quarter. Marcus Smith II had four tackles overall, including one for loss. He stuck with Brown down the sideline, but couldn’t break up the pass, which was completed for 18 yards. Overall, it looked like an improved performance.

* Brandon Bair and Graham combined for a tackle for loss in the third. Late, Graham and Smith collapsed the pocket, and Vinny Curry sacked Roethlisberger. Bair also deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage.

* Travis Long saw some reps at inside linebacker. The Eagles are cross-training him there in case of emergency.

* Roethlisberger escaped pressure and found Heath Miller for a 27-yard TD in the third.

* Alex Henery missed a 31-yarder in the second half.