It looks like the Pittsburgh Steelers have their work cut out for them if they want to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
The Philadelphia Eagles starters dominated their Pittsburgh counterparts Thursday night in a 31-21 preseason victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
Perhaps the Steelers starters should buy lunch for their understudies, because the backups made the final score look less lopsided than the game really was.
The Steelers (1-2) trailed 17-0 at halftime. Then the first-team defense, which stayed in the game for three quarters, allowed a touchdown after Mark Sanchez had replaced Nick Foles at quarterback for the Eagles (1-2).
Philadelphia cranked out 482 yards of offense and moved the chains for a staggering 36 first downs.
Running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, despite getting busted for marijuana on Wednesday, were among the Steelers' few bright spots. They combined to run for 55 yards on 16 carries, although their yards-per-carry average was hurt when they were put back in late in the game and forced to run behind backup offensive linemen.
Tomlin said he deemed playing Bell, Blount late into game as part of punishment. Said not playing wouldn't have been punishment #Steelers— Dale Lolley (@dlolleyor) August 22, 2014
Defensive end Cameron Heyward and linebackers Jason Worilds and Sean Spence were injured in the game.
Tomlin says Cam Heyward has an ankle sprain and that Worilds has a knee injury of "some sort."— Scott Brown (@ScottBrown_ESPN) August 22, 2014
Tomlin says Spence has a PCL injury. Worilds has knee injury of some type #Steelers— Dale Lolley (@dlolleyor) August 22, 2014
Those injuries, as well as the conduct of their top two running backs, are among the many problems the Steelers face with one preseason game remaining before they play real games.