Sep 21, 2008, 10:27 PM EDT
Averaging 37 points of offense couldn’t last long… Not with the Steelers and Bears on the early schedule. But the Eagles did outlast Pittsburgh in a definitive "under" game, winning 15-6 on the strength of an amazing performance by Jim Johnson’s defense. The win came with a sobering price though. Brian Westbrook suffered an ankle strain when he landed akwardly on a teammate. He did not return, and we got word during the equally akward reunion of Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick on the NBC pregame show that he might not be ready in time for next week’s game.
Donovan McNabb also came out briefly, but after a quick trip to the training room, he came back to the sideline and annoounced to the crowd he’d be returning to field by pointing his finger in the air. Linc faithful goes nuts. Also injured in the game was FB Tony Hunt, who got knocked silly and is said to have a concussion. Fortunately, the defense didn’t need to be spotted many points today.
Both of the Steelers’ scoring drives came in the first half, and each yielded only a field goal. The pressure on Big Ben was more than he could handle, and the Eagles sacked him and Byron Leftwich niiiine tiiiimes. Leftwich had to spell Roethlisberger for the game’s final two minutes after Big Ben hurt his hand while being sacked (for the eighth time). Big Ben should be OK, but the injuries are mounting early for him, and he has to be hurting after today.
Willie Parker was held completely in check, gaining just 20 yards on 13 carries. Unbelievable. The Steelers receivers also proved to be less than dangerous, with tight end Heath Miller leading them in production with 63 yards and no scores. It’s hard to blame the wideouts though; the Eagles front four and blitzing personel were in the backfield quite a few times before Big Ben even got set. If he wasn’t being sacked, he was running for his life.
One of the two most memorable plays of the game was the Eagles once again getting to a quarterback in his own end zone. Just like last week with Tony Romo, Roethlisberger was pressured into what looked like some combination of a fumble and an intentional grounding. Safety. We’ll take the ball back too.
The other play was vintage Brian Dawkins. The safety endured a long week of undue questioning related to whether he still had it. He was burned a few times last week, but as Kulp pointed out, there are few safeties in the league that can blanket TO and Jason Witten in single coverage. Dawk took it like a man, said he needed to play better, but that he was nowhere near finished with this game. Then today, he came out and proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Just one possession after Big Ben coughed up the safety, BDawk sped around the end, and then literally flew to drop the Steelers QB and force a fumble. Roethlisberger was trying to step up to avoid the pressure, and Dawkins had little time to close the gap between them. So he just Superman’d it, getting his body completely horizontal. No doubt this guy still has it.
Despite the short week, Jim Johnson made adjustments and kept the Steelers guessing all game. Asante Samuel had an amazing interception, one that most corners wouldn’t have made. That’s two picks already this season.
The offense didn’t look great, but they managed to win. Without Westbrook, who scored five times in the first two games, lighting up the scoreboard wasn’t as easy. But after wondering what went wrong in a great game with the Cowboys, it’s a good time to just sit back and enjoy the 2-1 record.
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