The Steelers held on to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 16-14 evening their record at 2-2. Now they must keep that momentum going in a short week when they face the Tennessee Titans, 1-4, Thursday on the NFL Network.
The return of Rashard Mendenhall was a key factor in the win as he carried the ball 14 times for 81 yards, doubling the Steelers yards per carry average. The Steelers had been 30th in the league in rushing and 32nd in yards per carry going into the game.
|BIG GAME—Running back Rashard Mendenhall (34) breaks through a host of Eagle defenders for a big gain in the Steelers 16-14 win over Philadelphia Oct. 7. (Courier Photo/Thomas Sabol)
The offense was not as impressive as it had been in previous games but did not die in the second half as it usually does, thus mounting a come from behind drive in the fourth quarter that set up a last second field goal that won the game.
Ben Roethlisberger was 21 of 37 for 207 yards, which was his worst performance of the year but he still got the W. His key receiver was Antonio Brown, 7 catches for 86 yards. Mike Wallace dropped several passes to end up with only 2 receptions for 17 yards. Heath Miller had 4 catches for 44 and Emmanuel Sanders had 3 for 22 yards. For the year Brown has 25 catches for 326 yards, Wallace has 19 for 251 and Miller 19 for 170. Roethlisberger ‘s quarterback rating is 100.3 putting him among the leaders.
Even though former Pitt star LeSean “Shady” McCoy looked impressive for the Eagles and had his moments, he was held in check for 53 yards on 15 carries.
The Steelers next opponent Tennessee has a new coach, Mike Munchak, who replaced Jeff Fisher, and is in the process of rebuilding with a rookie quarterback, Jake Locker, and a bunch of young players on both sides of the ball, headed by wide receiver Kendall Wright.
In previous years they depended on the running of Chris Johnson and a great defense but this year they have been trying to have a more balanced attack primarily because they are trying to establish a young quarterback, and Johnson has not been as effective as he has been in previous years.
A recent injury to Locker has put a damper on their rebuilding efforts, but may give them a better chance of winning with veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck moving back to the helm.
Hasselbeck spent years in Seattle with the Seahawks, actually taking them to one Super Bowl, which they lost to the Steelers. He’s at the end of his career, but is still a good solid quarterback who can lead the Titans to victory over the Steelers if they don’t bring their A or B game.
The Titans defense is one of the worst in the league, having set a record by giving up 30 or more points in their first five games, compiling a 1-4 record.
The offense hasn’t been much better with Johnson only picking up 24 yards on 15 carries against the Vikings last week. Hasselbeck put the ball up 43 times, completing just 26, as they went down to the Minnesota Vikings 30-7.
With James Harrison back in the lineup the Steelers defense looked better as a whole, especially Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley. They need Harrison in the lineup to prosper. He makes them better players. Timmons had his best game of the season against the Eagles and expect him to be even better against the less mobile Hasselbeck.
Johnson at one point was one of the two best backs in the game; he’s no longer in that class. He may not even be in the top 20 at this point, which means the Steelers defense should be able to hold him in check.
And as far as the aerial attack, the Titans, haven’t had one since Steve McNair left years ago. One of the reasons, Vince Young never made it big there was that they never bothered to get him top flight receivers. And that is still true. Nate Washington, who was the Steelers third receiver, and couldn’t make the team today is their second best receiver. They do have one bright spot in rookie receiver Wright who had 9 catches for 66 yards against the Vikings.
But just like the Oakland Raiders’ game, the Steelers should win this one easily, but they haven’t been doing that of late. Everything has been a struggle, even against weak teams.
The win put the Steelers back in the hunt for the AFC North division title. The Baltimore Ravens, 4-1, stayed on top with a 9-6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cincinnati Bengals, 3-2, dropped back with a 17-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins, and the Cleveland Browns stayed in the cellar and winless with a 41-27 loss to the New York Giants.
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the New Pittsburgh Courier Digital Daily newsletter!