Eagles vs. Steelers: Final Grades, Analysis for Philadelphia
FINAL SCORE: Pittsburgh 16, Philadelphia 14
The Eagles drop to 3-2 on the season while the Steelers are now 2-2. Turnovers were once again the story for the Eagles, as they couldn't stop fumbling the football and simultaneously didn't record a single interception or fumble recovery on defense.
With the two-point outcome, the Eagles become the first team ever to have four of their first five contests decided by two or fewer points.
You'll find complete player grades and evaluations in this article, breaking down the Eagles' devastating loss.
Michael Vick: B-
Michael Vick played his third consecutive interception-free game, throwing two touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his passes. His yards per attempt (5.8) was really low, and the Philadelphia Eagles haven't seemed to have the deep ball capability they have had in previous years.
Vick again got the ball in the fourth quarter with the team losing and came up huge, marching the team 79 yards in 17 plays, taking over eight minutes off the play clock, and culminating in a touchdown pass to Brent Celek. That gives him four huge game-winning/go-ahead drives in the fourth quarter, just in a span of five weeks.
Vick's turnovers continued though, as he fumbled the ball three times (a fourth one didn't count) and lost two of them. His fumble at the goal line is what really cost the Eagles the game.
LeSean McCoy: B+
Sixteen rushes for 53 yards and no touchdowns is not a game LeSean McCoy will put on his resume, and it doesn't look particularly good when you glance at the numbers.
But I thought McCoy played well, considering the offensive line was subpar in the run blocking game. McCoy converted two huge fourth downs on the Philadelphia Eagles' go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, and he had to make many of the plays happen by himself.
As a receiver, McCoy caught four passes for 27 yards and a touchdown, giving him 80 total yards on 20 touches, plus a score.
Bryce Brown: B
Bryce Brown carried one time for four yards, picking up a first down on the play. He still isn't talented enough to be a complement to McCoy, but the Eagles' coaching staff seems to be very high on Brown.
Stanley Havili: B
Stanley Havili didn't have quite as strong of a game blocking for McCoy as he did last week against the New York Giants, but he still did a fine job and contributed with a carry for five yards (very rare for an Andy Reid fullback not named Leonard Weaver).
DeSean Jackson: B
I'm puzzled by the Philadelphia Eagles' refusal to throw the ball deep to DeSean Jackson like they did in 2009 or 2010. I'm not sure if it is because Jackson isn't beating defenders deep or the Eagles want to go with a more conservative approach, but when you consider Michael Vick's rocket arm and Jackson's speed, it doesn't add up. Jackson did finish with four catches for 58 yards though, including a big 24-yarder late in the game, and there was a blatant no-call defensive pass interference on a deep ball to him which could have given Jackson 40 more yards had he not been interfered with.
Jeremy Maclin: B-
Jeremy Maclin was a reliable receiver in this game, finishing with five catches for 39 yards. He didn't score a touchdown, but it was a big improvement after last week when he had just one catch.
Jason Avant: B
It seems that you can almost put Jason Avant in the books for a game similar to the one he had today. His numbers today were three receptions for 34 yards, a pace that puts him on track for about 50 catches and 500 yards for the season, and he had a big third down reception early in the game.
Damaris Johnson: D
Damaris Johnson didn't have a catch for the first time in his brief NFL career and was again a non-factor on punt returns.
Brent Celek: B
Nine total receiving yards is a very subpar effort in the passing game from Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek, but he did come up big with a touchdown pass at the end that gave the Eagles a one-point lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is now third all-time among Eagles tight ends in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Celek also spent much of the game staying back to block.
Clay Harbor: C+
Clay Harbor caught one total pass for eight yards, breaking it down to the Pittsburgh Steelers' two yard line and almost into the end zone for a touchdown. He spent most of the game blocking the Steelers' tough 3-4 linebackers. Harbor did get called for a false start, which docks his grade a little.
Demetress Bell: C+
Demetress Bell played much more like the Demetrius Bell the Philadelphia Eagles thought he was when they acquired him from Buffalo. He did commit a holding penalty but I thought he held up well enough in the passing game, giving Michael Vick much more time to throw than he's had recently.
Evan Mathis: B
As a whole, I think the Eagles' offensive line played their best collective effort. They gave Vick much more time to throw, and Mathis did a fine job blocking the Pittsburgh Steelers' interior defensive linemen. He also didn't make any penalties, which has been a season-long problem for Mathis.
Dallas Reynolds: C+
Dallas Reynolds did a fair job on giving the Philadelphia Eagles the edge on both fourth and shorts they attempted, although one of them was much more the result of LeSean McCoy's stellar second effort. I still think the Eagles could use an upgrade but that's not going to happen unless Andy Reid decides Steve Vallos is suddenly the answer.
Danny Watkins: B+
Now that he's officially played one full season's worth of games for the Philadelphia Eagles, Danny Watkins is looking much better as an overall blocker. I thought the Eagles on the whole struggled in run blocking today but they put up a strong enough performance pass blocking. And Watkins came up strong when he recovered one of Vick's fumbles by putting his firefighting training into work—he stopped, dropped, and rolled onto the ball.
Todd Herremans: B-
Todd Herremans certainly played better than he did last week against the New York Giants, but then again, if he didn't, the Eagles may have to look into keeping a tight end back full-time to help out Herremans.
Trent Cole: C
Did Trent Cole play today? The picture above shows he obviously did because he was trying to recover the bad snap by Maurkice Pouncey. And the stat sheet shows he had a tackle. Other than that, I didn't see him. I think a lot of it was because Cole was double teamed by left tackle Max Starks and Heath Miller, but still, I expected Cole to make some plays and he didn't.
Derek Landri: B
Derek Landri had just two tackles, which isn't a great effort. And the run defense was really subpar, allowing Rashard Mendenhall to have his way with them. I do give Landri for breaking right through the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line late in the game and almost picking up a sack but forcing Ben Roethlisberger to throw the ball away.
Cullen Jenkins: C
The Philadelphia Eagles' defensive has played very well this year, even though they haven't gotten a lot of sacks. But no one played well today, and Cullen Jenkins was among the majority that underachieved as pass rushers. Jenkins also had just one tackle.
Jason Babin: B
I thought Jason Babin was the only Eagles' defensive linemen with a decent game. He had a tackle, a tackle for a loss, and he was 30 yards downfield tackling Mendenhall on an early run that was then called back because of a penalty. Babin gave it his all today, although it would have been nice if he had been able to wrap up Roethlisberger on a 3rd and 12 late in the game.
Fletcher Cox: C
I didn't think Fletcher Cox had a particularly strong game today. He was lined up against a two-time All-Pro center in Maurkice Pouncey, but Cox came up with just one tackle and no sacks.
Brandon Graham: B
Brandon Graham has been making the most of his limited snaps so far this season. Today, he didn't do much, picking up just one tackle, but I thought he was one of the few pass rushers the Eagles had against Ben Roethlisberger.
Phillip Hunt: C+
I'm really disappointed in Phillip Hunt this season. At this point, I expected him to have three sacks and really pushing for playing time behind Trent Cole and Jason Babin. That's not been the case. Hunt had just one play of note today, when he and Landri were right in Roethlisberger's face in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
Darryl Tapp: D
Darryl Tapp was a zero as a pass rusher today and he committed an absolutely inexcusable penalty when he was flagged early for unnecessary roughness for a blatant cheap, late hit.
Cedric Thornton: B-
Three tackles in limited snaps for the fourth defensive tackle is not a bad day's work for Cedric Thornton.
Mychal Kendricks: C-
It certainly was not the best of days for Philadelphia Eagles rookie outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks, as he played probably his worst day as a pro so far. Kendricks whiffed badly on Rashard Mendenhall's early 13-yard touchdown run. He let up four receptions for 41 yards to tight end Heath Miller, even though Miller stayed in to block much of the game. And Kendricks temporarily had to leave the game for an ankle injury.
DeMeco Ryans: A-
I can't remember the last time a Philadelphia Eagles linebacker registered 12 tackles in a single game like DeMeco Ryans did today. It never would have happened last year with Moise Fokou or Keenan Clayton. As good as Ryans' day was though in terms of the tackles, a sack or interception or fumble recovery would have gone a long way to helping the Eagles win.
Jamar Chaney: C+
I like Jamar Chaney at weakside linebacker much better than Akeem Jordan or Brian Rolle because Chaney has some speed to actually move around the field a little. Chaney finished with three tackles today, which isn't a bad output for a guy who was replaced by nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin on a lot of snaps.
Casey Matthews: C
The official stat sheet shows me Casey Matthews had two tackles. That qualifies as a game ball type of game for Matthews, who probably won't still be on the roster by the end of the year.
Nnamdi Asomugha: C
Nnamdi Asomugha probably won't ever be the corner in Philadelphia that he was in Oakland, simply because I think a lot of his success in Oakland came from the fact that he was so talented quarterback stopped challenging him and Asomugha grew not to expect it. He's being targeted here in Philly, and he's giving up some plays. Today was a subpar game against Antonio Brown, although he finished with eight tackles. The defensive holding penalty didn't help though, and that now gives Asomugha four penalties, tied with his teammate Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for the most by a cornerback in the NFL.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: B+
DRC had a pretty solid game against Mike Wallace, allowing just two catches for little yards all game. DRC did miss what could have been a huge interception in the first quarter and another one late in the game by the end zone.
Brandon Boykin: C-
I think Brandon Boykin will be a very promising player but he has been experiencing some growing pains as of late, and today was not his finest NFL performance. He did finish with four tackles, which is a respectable total for a nickel cornerback.
Nate Allen: B
Nate Allen had eight tackles today and came up with some nice pass knockdowns, notably a great deflection on a deep ball from Ben Roethlisberger on an early 4th and 10 attempt.
Kurt Coleman: B-
Kurt Coleman was a big contributor in the passing game, as Roethlisberger didn't throw any touchdowns. Coleman also finished with five tackles.
Alex Henery: A
Alex Henery didn't get the opportunity to attempt a single field goal today but he made both extra points and came up big late in the game with just his fifth touchback of the season when the Philadelphia Eagles really needed it the most.
Mat McBriar: B-
Mat McBriar has a workmanlike job as a punter, kicking four times for an average of 44 yards per punt. His first punt wasn't great, as he kicked a 25-yarder with the Eagles already at the Steelers' 43, putting the Steelers at their own 18. But he later boomed a deep 56-yarder and his overall average yards per punt is on par with his career average.
Brandon Boykin: C+
Three kick returns for an average of 21.7 yards per return is nothing to brag about but that's a relatively good day for Brandon Boykin, which shows you how bad he's been as a returner.
Damaris Johnson: C+
Damaris Johnson's final game line of one punt return for 13 yards is a career day for him, which tells you he hasn't quite been the answer as a punt returner that the Eagles thought he would be.
Jon Dorenbos: C
For maybe the first time that I can ever recall, I saw a shaky snap from Jon Dorenbos on a punt by McBriar. McBriar fielded it inches above the ground, and you can bet Dorenbos will work his tail off this week to make sure that is a thing of the past.
Andy Reid: D
Andy Reid is notorious for telling the media that he needs to put his players in a better position to win the game, and he will tell you himself to grade him on the outcome of the game. So I give him a less than respectable grade. He called just 16 carries for LeSean McCoy and 18 overall for the team compared to 38 rushes and he had burned through two of his three timeouts by the 10-minute mark in the fourth quarter.
Juan Castillo: D+
The Philadelphia Eagles defense didn't give up any touchdown passes but Rashard Mendenhall ran all over him and the fact that the Eagles' stellar defensive line didn't pick up a single sack against the Pittsburgh Steelers' subpar offensive line really bothered me. I thought Castillo could have done a better job of dialing up any sort of a surprise blitz to put some pressure on Ben Roethlisberger.
Bobby April: C-
Well, Bobby April got better results from his returners today, but Brandon Boykin and Damaris Johnson are both far less than what I thought they would be. The kick return coverage team lucked out the one time Chris Rainey ran a kick out from halfway in his own end zone but then the Eagles allowed a big 44-yarder that seems to be a regular occurrence for this unit.