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It was only an exhibition. Yet, in a game against two preseason conference favorites, the Steelers won the vast majority of individual matchups and made their intrastate rivals look pedestrian.
Bringing together great talent to play on a team does not a champion make; bringing together talent that plays as a great team does!
If a Pennsylvania Super Bowl were to occur, it would be the dream of many, a personal feud that would see many college campuses in central Pennsylvania burn. I'm not advocating. Behave, future professionals of PA!
However, as it stands, the new-look Eagles have not won a playoff game. The comparably talented Steelers (whose key players are already in place) have won and lost in their multiple Super Bowl appearances.
On prerequisite measures, the Steelers are already the state's best team.
Beyond accomplishments, many wonder who will have the best team in 2011. By season's end, it's difficult to determine which side of the Keystone State will boast the superior club. Right now, it's the Steelers.
It was just the preseason, but both teams lined up with the same stakes and only one performed near the level of expectations. It's critical not to overreact to exhibition results, but ignoring them is equally foolhardy.
The Eagles run defense was battered, and their defensive front lost most of their individual matches. The pass defense highlighted one potential area of concern. Announcers noted that the presence of Nnamdi Asomugha would force throws to the other side of the field, and Asante Samuel was very overaggressive on a play where he was burnt badly for a touchdown by Antonio Brown.
These are issues of polish, however. Philadelphia annually fields a fine squad, and they will refine their roster with the skills necessary to be successful.
The biggest area of concern is at quarterback. After such a disparity in the performances of both men, the notion of Michael Vick being ranked ahead of the Super Bowl-winning Roethlisberger on so many polls is further proof of the degradation of young football minds by fantasy games.
Ben Roethlisberger did what he almost always does. He used his mobility to set up opportunities downfield, made excellent decisions and threw touchdowns.
Michael Vick entered the game with high grades. A torrid stretch of great passing in 2010 apparently erased the career concerns that revolved around his inadequate passing numbers. Ultimately, Vick's sizzle fizzled, and his late interception secured the Eagles' exit from the 2011 playoffs.
Yes, the full playbooks were not on display for either team. Sure, it was only an exhibition.
But, if perfect practice makes perfect, Vick's preparation on Thursday was decidedly imperfect. As if back in his old Atlanta uniform, Vick was clearly frustrated with being unable to consistently get outside the pocket. The quarterbacking athlete has stated a commitment to focusing on the pass as his primary weapon.
The focus is fine, but not without execution. Vick made poor decisions all night long, including throwing into coverage and missing the safety support on his worst interception of the evening.
If these were new incidents, there would be no cause for alarm, but costing his teams in the air has been a Vick trademark.
Ben did better with utilizing his athleticism than did Vick. And, frankly, he normally does. With one of the largest yards-per-pass statistics in NFL history, Roethlisberger's uncanny ability to set up downfield opportunities with his mobility is well documented.
The Eagles, on the other hand, haven't won a playoff game with Vick at the helm.
Until the dream team wins in mid-January, placing them ahead of proven champions seems silly, as demonstrated by a dominant Steelers performance this past Thursday.