Walking into the game, there were a LOT of people wearing green. Not exactly the greatest feeling in the world when your team needs a big home win. No clue how so many Eagles fans made it to Pittsburgh. There was one sitting behind me who was particularly animated.
Coach Tomlin gives the defense the nods in pregame introductions trying to light a fire under their ass.
And it worked.
The Steelers take over but a bad snap from Pouncey puts us in 3rd and forever. Thank you Max Starks for falling on the loose ball. Punt.
The Eagles go right back to work moving the ball up the field. Vick takes things into his own hands and dives forward across midfield. The ball squirts out and it's called a fumble because he appeared to go to the ground untouched. If Vick had slid, the play would be dead there, but since he dove forward, he has to be down by contact. Andy Reid digs the challenge flag out from under his muffin top and the play gets overturned. Apparently Larry Foote just grazed Vick as he was going down.
The Eagles get another gift on some phantom pass interference call on Ike Taylor. Not sure how you call PI when both the offensive and defensive player are hand-fighting for position. Another pass to Maclin gets them down to the 3. The Eagles line up in shotgun and I tell the guy next to me "Watch out for the QB draw" because obviously if you'd seen the Eagles play the Ravens and Browns, you'd seen Vick score twice on QB draws at the goal line.
The next drive was pretty much a smattering of penalty flags. Two holding penalties on Willie Colon, a personal foul on the Eagles and possibly the most costly - an illegal formation on Mike Wallace that wiped away a 24-yard run by Mendenhall. At the end of it, another punt for the Steelers.
On the second play from scrimmage, Vick tries to scramble again, but Lawrence Timmons who was absolutely everywhere in this game, knocks the ball out and Larry Foote falls on it once again.
With the ball at the Eagles 34, the Steelers were in prime position to get some points off turnovers and get on the board. Two incompletions later, we opt to go for it on 4th and 10 (not a horrible call considering the field position) and Pouncey snaps one over Ben's head again. Ben recovers and chucks one up for Wallace in the end zone, but it's knocked away.
Not very good effort from Wallace. He's gotta at least go up and try to get the ball.
Vick takes a shot downfield after the turnover but Ike and Clark have textbook double coverage on D-Jax. No chance. Timmons blows through the line and takes down McCoy in the backfield. What a game by Timmons.
Ben finally gets things rolling with passes to Brown, Mendenhall and Wallace to get us across midfield. Ben pulls a sneaky QB Wrap play and takes it off-tackle for 5 yards, just to prove who the better #7 is. Ben keeps working the underneath stuff and Redman converts a 3rd and 1 to keep the drive rolling. Three plays later, after Mendenhall moves the chains again, Ben hits Rashard out of the backfield on a swing pass.
He makes a guy miss then scampers down the sideline all the way into the end zone.
Welcome back Rashard
Ben gets the ball back with 2:34 to go in the quarter. In a sign of things to come, he moves the offense down the field, connecting with AB on a big 3rd and 7 to keep things rolling. Somewhere in there, Eagles Fan behind me cursed out Asomugha for holding and called him a waste of $60 million. It took all I had not to outright laugh in his face. Philly fans...smh. Ben takes a shot for AB with Asomugha in trail, but the ball bounces off Brown's fingertips in the end zone.
I blame the pink gloves.
Ben hooks up with AB again on a big completion with under a minute to play to get us down inside the 10. AB's shoe came off on the play and rather than use a timeout we waste 20 seconds getting to the line and spiking the ball. If we're going to waste 20 seconds, we might as well run a play. AB has to go out to put his shoe on and Cotch comes in to replace him and Ben hits him WIDE open at the 4 yard line but he trips and falls down at the 2.
Somehow, Cotch did not score here.
We take our last timeout with 12 seconds left. Ben tries to hit Wallace on a quick slant, but it's knocked away. Suisham extends the lead before the half.
Eagles fan behind me will not shut the hell up. He starts ranting about how embarrassing it must have been the way we went out in the playoffs and ragging on Ike Taylor and Dick LeBeau. I don't usually engage other fans, but as a Steelers fan you have to draw the line somewhere, and that somewhere is ragging on Coach Dad. Nonchalantly, I ask him how the Eagles did in the playoffs last year. He promptly tells me he'd rather not make the playoffs than lose the way we did.
Jack Butler and Dermonti Dawson got their Hall of Fame Rings.
I got in a debate with the folks around me as to whether or not Dawson (one of the best centers in NFL history) was in fact the best center in Steelers history. Tough call between Dawson and Webster.
The Steelers had a chance to extend their lead right off the bat, but Rainey makes a poor decision to bring the kickoff out of the end zone and gets taken down inside the 10. Mendenhall makes up for it with a big rumble down the left side, but that's really all the offense could do.
The next drive was bizarre from start to finish. Clark got flagged for a late hit when Celek was fighting for more yards while Timmons and Foote were trying to bring him down. As the drive nears midfield, McLendon busts through the line and knocks the ball away from Vick but the Eagles are able to fall on it.
Rainey atones for his earlier mistake by taking the kickoff back across the 40, but the Steelers go 3-and-out and you start feeling a little nervous, even though it's only the 3rd quarter.
Thankfully, the defense buckles down and Harrison and Timmons get pressure on consecutive plays and force a 3-and-out. Huge stand there by the defense.
With the rain starting to come down a little harder, it was ground and pound time and Mendenhall rose to the occasion. Rashard put the team on his back and carried us across midfield, then AB made a big catch down the sideline on a come-back route with Asomugha all over him. Redman worked it down into the red zone.
On 3rd down, Ben did his Ben thing and rolled away from pressure and tried to hit Heath on the far sideline, but just barely overthrew him, so we had to settle for 3.
Vick has been clutch in the 4th quarter all year and the Eagles put together the drive they needed. The Steelers forced them into two consecutive fourth downs and they were able to convert them both. The dagger came on a 3rd and 10 from just outside of field goal range when Vick was pressured by Harrison and just lobbed one up that Jackson came across the field to grab on the left sideline. That got them inside the 10 and three plays later Vick hit Celek open over the middle for the score.
Ben got the ball back with 6:33 on the clock and two timeouts, but it was Colonoscopy city right off the bat when Willie got called for his 3rd holding penalty. But Ben made it happen. He got things rolling hitting 7th round pick David Paulson for his first career catch, then zinged one to AB across the middle to convert a 3rd and 12.
All Antonio Brown does is make big plays.
With some breathing room, it was Mendenhall time. He got a carry then took a checkdown pass up the sideline for 15 yards and another first down. Redman got two carries as the clock wound down to two minutes. Tense times as we sat at the 38, still out of field goal range. Manny Sanders had been a non-factor in the game up to that point, but he makes a HUGE finger-tip grab on 3rd down to move the chains and get us to the fringe of field goal range.
FIRST DOWN SON
Do or die time for Suisham from 34 yards....
What a win.
Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Rashard Mendenhall
Defensive Game Ball: Lawrence Timmons
- How great is it to have Mendenhall back in the lineup? 81 yards on 14 carries. If not for an illegal formation penalty, he probably would've gone over 100.
- Lawrence Timmons played his best game since the season opener in Baltimore last year. It was the first time since then he recorded more than 7 tackles in a game. Huge performance.
- Not to be outdone, Larry Foote recovered two fumbles today. On the day, the Eagles coughed it up 5 times - 2 were recovered and 1 was overturned by review.
- James Harrison just makes everyone around him better. He didn't record a sack, but he got pressure or drew away blockers on all 3 of the sacks that we recorded.
- We're going to be in some trouble down the line if Woodley and Polamalu both have to miss time with injury.
- Ben wasn't at his best today, but he finished the game with his 21st career 4th quarter comeback and 27th career game winning drive.
- On top of that, Ben wasn't sacked for the first time since the last game of the 2010 regular season.
- While Heath Miller didn't have a great statistical day, Haley put a great plan together to use tight ends to help neutralize the Eagles "Wide Nine" approach.
- Mike Wallace did not have a good day at all. He was targeted 8 times and only had 2 catches. He had a few balls bounce off his arms and didn't show much effort on the 4th down jump ball. If he wants Fitz money, he's going to have to make catches in coverage.
- For as poor as Wallace played, Willie Colon played even worse. The Colonoscopy accounted for 3 holding penalties, including one at the beginning of the last drive.
- The Steelers once again were able to control the clock with their running game in the 4th quarter. This time it was a 6:33 drive that concluded with Suisham kicking the game winner. Ben was 4 of 5 on the drive and converted some big 3rd downs.
- Short week this week with the Thursday Night game in Tennessee. Buckle up.