Before we go any futher with the recap, which would be the entire recap, I must say one thing: the preseason isn't the end all be all of games. These don't count in the win/loss column and there are few things, if any, that you can take of substance from the preseason. With that being said the Steelers came out and imposed its will on the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. They beat the Eagles in offense, defense and special teams and it took till late in the game for them to even score. It was great to see and a really nice bounce back from last week against the Redskins. Here is what I took from the preseason game:
The first team offense got to go on the field right off the bat after the Steelers won the toss and that is pretty much when the game was over. The first team offensive unit scored in their first two possessions and their day was done. The first drive took up 14 plays and spanned 80 yards in over seven minutes and the second also went 14 plays and went 96 yards in a little over eight minutes.
The first team defense played the entire first half and was just as successful. That unit held a pretty good Eagles offensive team to only 71 total yards and forced Mike Vick into throwing three interceptions. They also held Vick to only 5-of-12 passing for 47 yards. He routinely was making bad throws and the Steelers capitalized. Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu and Keenan Lewis made interceptions on the first team work.
I would sit here and tell you that Rashard Mendenhall had a nice game but that would be a gross understatement. He carried the ball six times for 28 yards and also caught two passes for 17 yards, but that wasn’t it. When he was kept in the backfield he did an excellent job of picking up the blitz and pass blocking and looked very elusive when he was out there running. I thought he looked pretty good last year but he looked even better tonight. Even though I didn’t get to see the Redskins game or any practices I have heard the same from many people that have. Good sign.
Ben Ben was pretty good, to say the least. He was 8-of-12 for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Ho hum. He hooked up with a bunch of different receivers. Even though he got hit a few times he did a really nice job of buying time and finding the receiver down the field. There were a few third and long situations he was in and he made some really nice passes, even hooking up with Hines Ward for a touchdown. He threw the ball really well and it would be pretty scary if he continues this through the year.
Jerricho Cotchery had a really nice first half. Picked up a few first downs and even caught a touchdown pass. I talked about him in the pregame and I am mildly excited about him being in the mix this year, especially with Sanders down and Ward being on the tail end of his career. I also thought Arnaz Battle also looked pretty good, making a couple of catches. Not really sure if there is room on the roster for him but he was a huge special teams guy last year and I feel pretty comfortable with him on the field.
Mendenhall was good tonight but another back that showed a lot was Ike Redman. He totted the ball eight times for 26 yards and I don’t know what it is but I just like the makeup of the kid. I thought he had a pretty nice year last year. He should get some more work this year and I think he deserves it. Hard runner and found some holes tonight.
A guy that played a really nice game that isn’t a household name is Donovan Warren. The second year man out of Michigan, who the Steelers picked up after the Jets got rid of him, got a lot of playing time with almost all the DB’s out for the game. With the first team he was a part of a sack with James Harrison and continually was in good position all night. It was nice to see a non-starting DB play well and hopefully he continues to play well.
Jon Dwyer had a good night. After how he came into camp I think it would surprise many people that he is still on the team let alone getting significant carries. He was part of the first string offense playing some fullback and got an inside carry and looked pretty good. He didn’t do anything terribly flashy but he didn’t stand out as bad in my eyes. He looked pretty good late in the game, reading the blocks and always getting positive yardage.
A lot of people give BA a hard time for his offense and what he does but his game plan was nice tonight. He mixed in the pass and the run nicely and really kept the Philly defense off balance for much of the game. Especially in the first half he just seemed like he was dialing in the right plays. I hope he continues to mix it in like this as we get into the season because it really made the offense look smooth and really helped it flow.
For as good as the Eagles seem to think they are, they didn’t look real good. The vaunted pass defense was average at best and the Steelers defense had their way with the Eagles defense. I know it is preseason and it doesn’t mean much but this was a pretty embarrassing performance all the way around by the Eagles. There is plenty of time to turn it around but if I were an Eagles fan I would not be happy. Things can turn around quick though, last week the Steelers didn’t play well and they looked good today so take it for what it’s worth.
I really wish I could give you some insight on the offensive line play but to be honest I have no idea what was even going on from the beginning of the game on. The first play of the game Jon Scott was hurt and then second round pick Marcus Gilbert was hurt a few plays later and Tony Hills started at right guard then moved to left tackle. Who really knows. I hope everyone is not seriously injured though. For the most part the line was OK the whole night through. They only gave up three sacks all night and they did a pretty nice job, as make shift as they were, giving Ben some time. It could have been a whole lot worse and this is defiantly progress form last week, which is what we are looking for.
Swayze Waters got his chance to kick for the entire game and really didn’t do a good job at all. He only hit 1-of-3 attempts and one of them was blocked because the kick had too low of a trajectory. He also missed a chip shot field goal from 27 yards out late in the game and when you are in the NFL you just can’t miss kicks like that.
Overall a nice game for the Steelers. Nice to see them bounce back and have a lot of players play well. All in all we will see what happens next week after a long break. Season is right around the corner.