Thursday, August 12th, was the first preseason game of 2021 for the Philadelphia Eagles and it was not your typical run of the mill preseason game. The preseason opener at Lincoln Financial Field was the first glimpse Eagles fans got of rookie head coach Nick Sirianni and the new look of the Philadelphia Eagles led by the newly named starter Jalen Hurts.
On the opening series, Hurts started 2/4 for 41 yards, but his receivers dropped two balls and Philly was forced to kick a Field Goal. On the first drop, Hurts slightly under threw Reagor on the sideline, resulting in a drop. On the previous play however, Hurts found Goedert downfield for a beautiful 34 yard completion, showcasing his pinpoint accuracy. On the second series, the Eagles were backed up in their own end zone, and Hurts threw a deep ball to a wide open Quez Watkins with nothing but daylight ahead, but he overshot Watkins by a few yards. After two drives, the majority of the first team offense came out of the game, and Jalen Hurts finished 3/7 with 64 yards passing and had 1 carry for 4 yards. In the limited snaps from Hurts, he showed the ability to stay calm in the pocket, which he struggled with last year, and Hurts also made the right read on all of his pass attempts.
Joe Flacco and the second team offense got the nod for the rest of the first half, and the veteran quarterback finished 10/17 for 178 yards and 1 touchdown. Flacco checked it down to Watkins on a screen pass, and Watkins took it to the house for 79 yards as he blew by the Steelers secondary. Tyree Jackson shined with the backups, as he caught 2 balls for 34 yards, and had another catch that was erased because of an offensive holding call. Reagor also had some flashes on offense, as he made a spectacular double move on starting corner Cameron Sutton, and he finished the play with a nice catch on the sideline. Kenny Gainwell was the featured back with the second team offense, as he had 3 touches for 21 yards and broke a couple of tackles.
On the defensive side of the ball, the majority of the starters only played the first series before being taken out of the game. Throughout the first several drives of the first half, the secondary coverage was outstanding and the defensive line was creating pressure. Josh Sweat made a few plays on the edge to force Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph to get rid of the ball early. T.Y. McGill and Milton Williams both beat their man instantly off the line of scrimmage on the same play, creating a sack. Early in the second quarter, Michael Jacquet got beat one a deep ball by Dionte Johnson, but followed it up with a tackle for loss on the next play showing that he was not rattled by his mistake. Late in the half, the Steelers put together a consistent touchdown drive as the Eagles defensive line started to get tired, cutting the Eagles lead down to 16-7 heading into the half.
Nick Mullens started the whole second half with the third stringers, and the Eagles had a forgettable half. On offense, Mullens was 1/5 for 4 yards, and threw 2 interceptions. Mullens did not look accurate and looked extremely rattled in the pocket. Jason Huntley had an electric run down the sideline, but it was called back due to an offensive hold. Overall, the Eagles third string offense looked lost in the second half, and was unable to create anything.
The defensive side of the ball was not much better, as they surrendered 2 touchdowns in the third quarter, erasing their halftime lead. The Eagles third string defensive line was unable to create any pressure, and the secondary looked lost in coverage. Elijah Riley made a nice play on an interception in the middle of the field, and linebacker Patrick Johnson made a couple nice defensive stops. Other than a few nice plays in the second half, the defense was abysmal. The Steelers were able to run the ball up the gut of the Eagles defense throughout the entire second half, finishing with 152 yards on the ground. The Steelers turned a halftime deficit into a 24-16 win, as they outscored the Eagles 17-0 in the second half.
Throughout the course of the game, the Eagles were 0/8 on third down, while the Steelers were 11/17.