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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson

EAGLES FINALLY PLAY A COMPLETE GAME IN VICTORY OVER STEELERS


Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown hauls in one of his three touchdown passes during the Eagles 35-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo by Andy Lewis

The Philadelphia Eagles came off their bye week and took care of business knocking off the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers 35-14 at the Linc to remain unbeaten and keep their NFC East rivals at arm’s length heading into the middle leg of the season.


The one thing the Birds (7-0) were missing was that balanced, all-around game. The Steelers were the ideal opponent to accomplish that.


The Eagles scored in all four quarters for the first time this season, the defense continued to come up with turnovers and special teams had a positive impact on the outcome of the game.


Quarterback Jalen Hurts and his receivers put on a show Sunday afternoon. Wide receiver

A.J. Brown caught touchdown passes of 39, 27 and 29 yards. Hurts found Zach Pascal for a 34-yard strike and tight end Dallas Goedert looked like a Pro Bowler.


“We’ve been talking about playing a complete game for a while now as far as offense, defense and special teams,” Pascal said at this locker after the game. “Today we came out…defense had a couple turnovers, offense was making plays and special teams was hoopin.’ I was glad to see the whole team come out, and I feel when we play as a team, we can’t be beat.”


The Birds set the tone early and never really looked back.


The Eagles and Steelers (2-6) traded touchdowns in the first quarter. On the Eagles first drive, Hurts hit A.J. Brown with a 39-yard strike in the end zone.



Eagles defender administers one the Birds six sacks on the day. Photo by Andy Lewis

On the Steelers second drive, Chase Claypool passed to Derek Watt for a one-yard touchdown.


The Eagles had the drive stopped at the two and appeared to have forced Pittsburgh to settle for a field goal


But Brandon Graham committed a costly delay of game penalty, costing the Eagles four points. The score was 7-7.


But the Eagles struck back, driving 79 yards on 11 plays ending with a 27-yard thread-the-needle pass from Hurts to Brown. The Birds were back in the lead, 14-7.


A 27-yard return by Steven Sims was negated by a ten-yard penalty by Tre Norwood.

The Steelers were now starting at their own 17. It got worse.


A five-yard illegal formation penalty pushed the visitors back to their own 12-yard line.


The drive fizzled and the Birds got the ball back at their own 39.


A bone-headed catch-and-retreat play by DeVonta Smith blew up the drive.


But a Steelers three-and-out, gave the ball back to Hurts and company at their own 40.

Three plays later Brown completed his hat trick catching a 29-yard touchdown pass from Hurts.


The Eagles' lead stretched to 21-7.


The Steelers hit a 38-yard Nick Sciba field goal to make the score at the half 21-10.


Birds needed just over two-minutes to go up 28-10 when Hurts passed to Zach Pascal for a 34-yard touchdown. He was wide open…how did that happen?


“When people see me, they think screen,” said Pascal, who finished with two catches for 57 yards. “So, I was able to fake screen and go up the sideline…I was wide open and was able to make a play.”


The Steelers were not going to lie down. On their first drive of the second half they drove 15 plays, 64-yards that took up over six minutes producing 29-yard Sciba field goal to make the score 28-13.


That was it for Pittsburgh for the day.


The Eagles would strike one more time on a sequence that was the definition of complimentary football.


On the next drive, the Eagles couldn’t move the ball and punted. The much-maligned special teams' unit was spot on downing the ball inside the one-yard line with 1:47 left in the third quarter.



Zach Pascal scores on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Hurts during the Eagles 35-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Photo by Andy Lewis

On third down, the Eagles defense breathed life into what should have been a doomed drive when James Bradberry committed a 14-yard interference penalty.


Pickett moved the Steelers to the Eagles 36-yard line when on a first-down play, the Steelers rookie signal caller was sacked by Javon Hargrave.


Pickett fumbled and the ball was recovered by cornerback Avonte Maddox and returned it to the Philadelphia 46.


It took just two plays to go 54 yards when Mile Sanders punched it in from 11 yards out.


Sanders, who finished 78 yards on nine carries was asked about playing complimentary football.


“I think every game has been pretty complimentary,” Sanders said. “I think that’s reason why we’re winning…all aspects of the game, special teams are playing a heck of a level right now too. Zach was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week…We’ve got that going every week.”


HURTS AND HIS OFFENSE SEEM TO BE GETTING BETTER WEEK


Hurts finished 19 of 28 for 285 yards, four touchdown passes, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 140.6. He was sacked three times.


A.J. Brown had a Hall of Fame after noon torching the Steelers secondary for 156 yards on 11 catches and three touchdowns.


Dallas Goedert recorded six receptions for 64 yards. Zach Pascal grabbed two passes for 57 yards including a 34-yard touchdown.


Hurts was asked about his performance today and what it says about his development.


“I think it’s bigger than the overall development of one part of my game,” the 24-year-old said. “I think it’s about being able to be a threat in many different ways. That’s something that a guy like me has the ability to do. Naturally being able to run, we’ll call it a dual-threat, but I like to call it a triple-threat.

“You have to be able to kill them with your legs at times, make the throws when you need to in the passing game, and kill them with your mind and with what you see and how you react. Because you get to a point where you get different looks and they try and get you but, you have to be ready for all of those looks and have an answer for it. That’s a testament to the preparation and the people that I have around me.


“It’s an uphill climb. That’s what we always talk about, it’s just an uphill climb. I honestly feel that there is no arrival, there is no arrival. You’ll never get to a point to where you say ‘I’ve arrived’. There is no arrival, there’s only the journey, and I’ve embraced that journey and I’ll continue to do that and take it day by day and just try and climb.”


Hurts was asked if today’s performance was more of his arm or his mind.


“It was everything, it was everything,” he said. “It was the whole triple threat. I think it’s a testament to the whole preparation like I said and the guys around me. A.J. making big time plays, Zach Pascal coming in and making big time plays, well deserved. It’s important, the preparation.”


Hurts says once he launches the ball, he is in the stands with the fans.


“I have fun with it because, I’ve seen all of these guys do amazing things,” Hurts said with a smile. “I’ve seen DeVonta Smith do crazy things in college. I’ve seen A.J. as a friend and as a fan take slants 70 yards. I’ve seen Dallas Goedert make the craziest catches in the game and in practice.


“So, when I see them make those plays in the game, better yet when I’m playing with them in the game, I’m like, I got my popcorn ready after I throw them the ball. I want to make sure I do my job to get them the ball and then I can be a fan and watch them go to work.

“I think that’s just a testament to them. I think for us, it looks differently by the day but we always prepare together, and we always go onto the field and go into a game and try and be on the same page and I think that’s allowed us to be productive. We just want to continue to build on that.”



Eagles receivers clown around in the end zone after A.J. Brown's first touchdown pass. Photo by Andy Lewis.

STEELERS ARE STRUGLING WITH A NEW QUARTERBACK--THE EAGLES DEFENSE HELP THEM STRUGGLE

Kenny Pickett was 25 of 38 for 191 yards, no touchdown passes, an interception and two fumbles (one lost). He had seven of his passes deflected. He was sacked six times.


Linebacker T.J. Edwards led the Eagles again with 13 tackles (nine solo) plus a quarterback hurry and two deflected passes.


Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson was all over the field recording eight tackles (seven solo), a sack, quarterback hurry, interception and a deflected pass.


“They were making those plays and we were not,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game. “We have to own that. We have to see that with clearer eyes. And make no mistake, we do. It’s nothing comfortable about it but we see it with clear eyes. We got to make those plays. We have to break those balls up or catch them on defense. Finish them legally on offense in bounds or otherwise.”


ON TO HOUSTON

Usually after games you see players getting ready to go out and maybe relax with teammates or friends and family. Not today.


The locker room was filled with stationary bikes, massage tables and orthopedic – looking stuff players were being put through.

It’s wheels up in about 72 hours.


“You see the guys recovering now,” Pascal said. “I think that’s kind of the focus right now, we’re getting ready for Thursday.” *

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