When the gun sounded on the first half of the third preseason game, the Philadelphia Eagles—having outgained their opponent 251 yards to 96—led the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-0. When the Birds came back out for the third quarter, the second-team offense and defense ran the lead to 24-0 against Pittsburgh’s top units before the black and gold finally mustered a response.
As NFL dress rehearsals go, this was a great one. The Eagles mounted touchdown drives of 80 and 77 yards while holding the Steelers off of the scoreboard until 4:07 remained in third quarter. The execution wasn’t always perfect, but the 31-21 victory should be enough to ease concerns heading into the regular season opener versus the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field on September 7.
As is the case with any preseason performance good or bad, we don’t want to read too deeply into the results. That being said, there’s no denying the third game is the most important. It’s the final tune-up for the majority of these players until the regular season kicks off—and the Eagles were firing on all cylinders.
Nick Foles completed 19 of 29 passes for 179 yards, one touchdown and one interception. LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey and Kenjon Barner combined to carry the football 31 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns, with McCoy adding a 22-yard catch-and-run. Jeremy Maclin hauled in six receptions for 43 yards and re-entered the game after a scary-looking injury.
Mychal Kendricks led the way for the starters with four tackles in addition to recording a pass breakup. Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham each registered a sack on Pittsburgh starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In his first action of the preseason, Nolan Carroll came up with an interception against Roethlisberger.
The only real hitch was Alex Henery pushing a 31-yard field goal wide late in the contest.
Again, there’s no reason to get overly-excited over the preseason. However, if you were excited about the Eagles’ prospects for 2014 prior to Thursday's win, you really must be feeling confident now. There’s still one more exhibition game to go, but this team looks like it's ready for the real thing.