The Pittsburgh Steelers came into week 5 fresh off a bye week in need of a win to get their season back on track. With 3 seconds remaining on the clock, kicker Shaun Suisham made that a reality. Suisham nailed a 34 yard field goal as time expired to give the Steelers a huge win against the cross state rival Philadelphia Eagles.
The Steelers moved to 2-2 on the season and looked impressive at times during the game.
The Steelers got their season back on track after a disappointing 1-2 start to the season. The Steelers play again in just 4 days against the Tennessee Titans. The Steelers should be able to win that game against a struggling Titans team and move to 3-2 before their first divisional matchup against the Bengals 10 days later.
The Steelers got back starters Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall for this game. Polamalu reinjured his calf in the first half and did not return to action. Starting linebacker Lamarr Woodley injured his hamstring during the game and did not return. I anticipate both Woodley and Polamalu to miss the game against the Titans later this week giving them 2 full weeks to recover. The extent of their injuries has not been accessed at this point. Starting running back Rashard Mendenhall missed the entire season to this point and made his first game action against the Eagles. Mendenhall was fantastic in his return from an ACL injury. He gave a noticeable boost to the Steelers 32nd ranked running game. Mendenhall finished the game with 14 carries, 81 yards and 1 touchdown. He looked strong, fast and well prepared for his return to game action. His only mistake was a fumble on a long run that bounced out of bounds that fortunately did not hurt the Steelers. Mendenhall averaged 5.8 yards per carry after 3 weeks of fellow running backs Redman and Dwyer averaging below 3 yards per carry.
The Steelers defense was outstanding for most of the game. The unit that allowed 13 unanswered points in the 4th quarter of the Oakland Raiders game, allowed only 14 points to an explosive Eagles offense. James Harrison was able to apply pressure on several occasions and looked healthy. He needs to do a better job of setting the edge on stretch run plays as Eagles running back Lesean McCoy was able to turn the corner on Harrison’s side on several occasions. Harrison is high in game miles but is still an impact player that gives the Steelers an advantage over their opponents. Fellow linebacker Lawrence Timmons was outstanding against the Eagles. Timmons has struggled at the middle linebacker spot this season, however today he showed why the Steelers gave him a new long-term contract last year. Timmons racked up 9 tackles to go along with a forced fumble. He put pressure in Michael Vick’s face all day with middle cross fire blitzes that the Steelers are known for. As has been the Steelers luck in recent years, they cannot keep all of their stars on the field at one time so the backups will continue to get work with the injuries to Polamalu and Woodley. If the Steelers defense can continue to improve, they will be hard to beat as the season goes on.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not have the huge numbers today but was efficient and made plays all day when necessary. The offensive line was able to hold at bay the strong Eagles pass rush and Ben stayed clean all day. The stat line shows Roethlisberger passing for only 21/37 and 207 yards, but he was able to drive the Steelers down the field late in the 4th quarter to set up the Suisham game winning field goal. Antonio Brown led the way for the Steelers receivers with 7 catches for 86 yards. The Steelers came up with big plays on both sides of the ball when they needed them in a huge game that could have dictated the direction of their season. After one fourth of their games are complete, they stand at 2-2 with some work to do to get back in the AFC North race. Nonetheless, they came up with a huge win against the Eagles and will now prepare for a Thursday Night clash against the Tennessee Titans.
-Tony DelSignore Jr.
(Follow me on twitter @TonyD_12)