More tough grades after Eagles’ Week 5 los to Steelers originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles were in Sunday’s game at Heinz Field in the fourth quarter, pulling to within a couple points before the Steelers tacked another touchdown to win 38-29.
On the season, the Eagles fell to 1-3-1 and into second place in the NFC East.
Carson Wentz: 20/35, 258 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 75.7 rating
After a really rough start to his season, I thought Wentz had his best game yet. He wasn’t perfect and there are still some kinks to be worked out, but behind a makeshift line and without key receivers, he still played really well and gave the Eagles a chance to win. I can’t even fault him for those two interceptions. On the first, he threw to a spot and a penalty wasn’t called as Zach Ertz was bumped off his route. And on the second, it was late in the game and he was heaving it downfield in desperation. If Wentz plays like this, the Eagles have a chance to win games.
Miles Sanders: 11 carries, 80 yards, 2 TDs
The good news is that Sanders ripped off a 74-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The bad news is that he had just six more yards than that by the end of the game. The Eagles had trouble getting the running game going consistently. The only other back with a touch was Boston Scott who got three yards on one carry.
Travis Fulgham: 10 catches, 152 yards, 1 TD
What an amazing game for Fulgham in his second game with the Eagles. A huge breakout performance from the former sixth-rounder out of Old Dominion, who didn’t even arrive to the Eagles until Aug. 20. Fulgham alone gets an A. And Greg Ward made a nice touchdown catch too. But rookie John Hightower had two forgettable plays. On one, he failed to get out of bounds in the 2-minute drill to end the first half. And Hightower had a chance to catch a long touchdown pass from Wentz even later in the first half and couldn’t come down with it. Hightower, J.J. Arceg-Whiteside and Quez Watkins combined for three catches. At least JJAW and Ward were blocking downfield on that long TD run.
Zach Ertz: 6 targets, 1 catch, 6 yards
It’s not a good day for the tight ends when Richard Rodgers has a bigger day than Ertz, especially when Rodgers had just one catch for 18 yards. I know Ertz gets a ton of attention but one catch for six yards simply isn’t good enough.
It wasn’t a perfect performance but the young offensive line held up for most of the afternoon. Sure, Jordan Mailata was overmatched against Bud Dupree and Matt Pryor was definitely overmatched at right guard. But it wasn’t too bad, even after Lane Johnson was forced out of action again. Wentz was sacked five times but the OL gave him enough time to have a sold day and put up 29 points.
Javon Hargrave: 4 tackles, 1/2 sack, 1 QB hit
Coming into Sunday’s game, this was billed as a battle between two of the best defensive lines in football. The Eagles lost that battle. With Ben Roethlisberger getting the ball out of his hand so quickly, the Eagles couldn’t get to him. The bright spot was that the Eagles held James Conner to 44 yards on 15 carries.
Duke Riley: 12 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FF
The fact that Riley forced that one fumble saved the group from another F, which has become a weekly occurrence. That takeaway counts but the rest wasn’t very good. The Steelers’ success on third downs — 11/15 — belongs largely to the linebackers and secondary. Nate Gerry in coverage against Chase Claypool with the game on the line didn’t go well, but that’s a really tough assignment.
Jalen Mills didn’t have a good game at corner and, surprisingly, neither did Darius Slay. While Slay had one huge hit early in the game, he got called for a couple DPIs (one was bad) and had his worst game since getting traded to the Eagles. Roethlisberger threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns as Claypool caught all three and had another on the ground.
Jake Elliott: 0/1 on field goals; 3/3 on PATs
Elliott had a chance to try a 57-yard field goal, which would have been a record at Heinz Field, but pushed it wide right. It was a tough kick but he had the leg and it would’ve given the Eagles a lead in the fourth quarter. Cam Johnston punted twice for 100 yards. The Eagles didn’t get anything going in the return game. Three kick returns for 48 yards and one punt return for 1.
I thought Doug Pederson probably got away from the run more than he should have but the offense clicked against the Steelers. Pederson also won a big challenge in the third quarter. On defense, Jim Schwartz’s call on that third down when Claypool lined up against Gerry left a lot to be desired. And that was far from his only questionable call.