For the fourth time in five games, Michael Vick led the offense on a long scoring drive to put the Eagles ahead in the fourth quarter. For the first time this season, it was not enough to get the job done.
In their longest drive of 2012, the Eagles finally reached paydirt on play number 17, capping an eight-plus minute drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek for their first lead of the afternoon. They left the Steelers far too much time to work though, and Pittsburgh used all of their six-and-a-half minutes to methodically march down the field, then kick a 34-yard field goal to deliver a 16-14 victory as the clock expired.
While the end result was different from previous weeks, the loss serves as a reminder of how difficult it can be to win in the NFL. We should look back on those earlier one- and two-point wins with a new appreciation, as games often will come to one play.
For that reason, it will be equally difficult not to look back on Pittsburgh as a missed opportunity for Philadelphia. Vick's two lost fumbles, and in particular the one right before he could cross the goal line, were enough to tilt the scales in the opponent's favor. Instead of going in for the decisive score on that final possession, as it very well could have been, the Eagles were only able to shut a door while leaving a window open.
That was enough for the Steelers, who pounded the rock into Philly territory to set up the three-point try. Juan Castillo's defense struggled to shut down the rushing attack all day, surrendering 131 yards for a 4.4 average on the ground. Rashard Mendenhall looked 100% in his return from an ACL, gaining 81 by himself and a touchdown.
Ultimately they couldn't get off the field in the end, but otherwise it was a solid defensive effort to hold Pittsburgh to 16 points. The inability of the offense to light the scoreboard continued to be the top story, and the lack of ball protection finally proved costly in a tight game, dropping the Birds' record to 3-2 on the year. More to come ahead.