FINAL GRADE: B-
They didn't make stops on key plays in the second half, and they consistently allowed the Eagles to get first downs and drive the field. Third downs were again an issue, and they surrendered the lead in the fourth quarter.
However, they did pitch a shutout in the first half, even though that was largely the result of Michael Vick's key fumble at the goal line in the first quarter. Likewise, they successfully engineered the appropriate gameplan for beating Vick and crew: getting pressure, hitting the Eagles' passer, and forcing turnovers.
Also, nobody should confuse the fact that giving up 14 points to the Eagles has to be considered a successful Sunday.
4TH QTR: D
If first and second down won and lost games defensively, the Men of Steel would have had an amazing fourth quarter. Instead, minus Troy Polamalu, Ryan Mundy missed a tackle in the open field on LeSean McCoy, causing fans to wonder if the absence of No. 43 was having an impact in the second half.
Failing again to stop the opponent on key downs in the second half, the defense surrendered a second touchdown on three second half drives.
Two third down conversions and two FOURTH down conversions allowed Philadelphia to take the lead on a march that covered 79 yards on a whopping 17 plays that ate up over eight minutes. With multiple shots to make the key play, the Steelers defense allowed four critical conversions. Twice, the unit had penetration in the backfield, only for LeSean McCoy to evade a drive-killing tackle.
Indeed, the Eagles took the lead on the back of No. 25!
3RD QTR: C
The second half has been a horror show for the Steelers defense this season, particularly in Oakland. Things went awry again after halftime, the result of personal fouls by the two Ryan’s.
On the first Eagles’ play of the second half, Ryan Clark was called for a personal foul, hitting Brent Celek after the whistle was blown. Clark is a smart player who doesn’t often cost his team.
Ryan Mundy, however, has no excuse. A personal foul (helmet-to-helmet hit) against Jeremy Kerley put the ball into field goal territory for Philly. While it was debatable whether the contact was truly illegal, Mundy certainly entered the game on the league’s radar after his hit on Darrius Heyward-Bey two weeks ago.
The 30 extra yards aided Philly; a 15-yard pass from Vick to McCoy cut the lead to 10-7.
On their second drive of the third quarter, James Harrison got pressure on Vick up the middle, and the passer skipped a pass that appeared to slip out of his fingers. Then, on third down, Brett Keisel came uncontested up the middle- a huge issue for the Eagles on the drive- and Vick was unable to roll left and find an open target.
Isn’t it amazing how much more effective the defense can be when it doesn’t give up free yardage?
2ND QTR: A+
Initially, the second quarter continued the Lawrence Timmons Show. He played a significant role in stopping the Eagles first possession of the quarter, getting into the backfield and pressuring Vick. No. 7 would be sacked, ending Philly’s drive.
Like the first quarter, the defense allowed the Eagles to drive but stiffened when it had to. Vick fired to a wide open DeSean Jackson on a short cross, bringing the ball into Pittsburgh territory. However, the unit forced a 3rd-and-12, and Jason Worilds finished off the Eagles' second drive with a sack.
1ST QTR: A-
They had trouble containing the edge, gave up third down conversions, and allowed the Eagles to drive... but came through when it counted!
Is there any doubt that the heroes of the first quarter were Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Clark? In a “bend but don’t break” quarter, the defense allowed the Philly offense to drive, but they came through with clutch plays when the Eagles got into scoring position!
One week after failing to make a single stop in the second half, the Steelers stopped the Eagles on their opening drive. Initially, there was concern, as the unit surrendered a key third down conversion to Jason Avant.
However, the Steelers’ demeanor changed after the Eagles got past midfield. Second down featured a deceptive blitz that resulted in pressure on Michael Vick, who narrowly avoided a sack by Lawrence Timmons. Then, at long last, a third down stop saw an incomplete pass attempt to Jeremy Maclin.
The defense’s second showing was more wild than the first!
After getting pressure on Vick again (Lawrence Timmons), Lamarr Woodley had great containment on the edge, forcing the quarterback to throw an ill-advised floater down the sideline. Next, Timmons flew to the edge to stop a 9-yard run by “Shady” McCOy. One play later, Vick scrambled up the middle, but instead of sliding feet-first, he dove. The ball popped loose, and it was initially ruled a fumble. However, he was called down by contact as his feet got tangled during the run.
Vick drove his team to the 3-yard line. Then, on first and goal, Vick scrambled up the middle and dove for the goal line. This time, Ryan Clark got his shoulder on the football, jarring it loose. The Steelers recovered in the end zone, and Vick wouldn’t be saved by replay this time!
On their third and final drive of the opening act, the Eagles suffered at the hands of Lawrence Timmons. A rush attempt up the middle by VIck saw Timmons strip the ball from his grasp, and Larry Foote recovered!
LAWRENCE! LAWRENCE! LAWRENCE!