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Eagles Make Strong Statement With Dominating Win Over Steelers

Philadelphia tops Pittsburgh 34-3




Through the first two weeks of the NFL season, the hot start of the Philadelphia Eagles and their rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has been chalked up more to the play of their inferior opponents than anything else. The naysayers will have to come up with something else, after the Eagles defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3 on Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.

On a day that was widely billed as when the wheels would come off on the Wentz bandwagon, the Eagles dominated in all facets of the game and instead gave the Steelers their worst loss since September 17, 1989. Wentz threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns in a game that spiraled out of control for the visitors by halftime. The freshman signal caller helped receiver Jordan Matthews find the end zone for the second time this year, connecting on a 12-yard touchdown.  Wentz’ best play came in the third quarter when he stepped up in the pocket, escaped pressure and hit running back Darren Sproles in stride for a 73-yard catch and carry, leaving LB Ryan Shazier in his dust.  It was an absolute thing of beauty, a trademark play of his young career and quite Roethlisberger-esque. The team can’t stop gushing about their new quarterback, who is basically Tim Tebow with actual NFL talent.

“He plays for God and that makes it that much easier on him,” Jordan Matthews said. “Once I knew that about him and that he has got the skill set, and he has got the body and he has got the arm, and he works his butt off every single day. He is detailed. He is always making checks.  I was up this morning at eight at the hotel getting breakfast and I saw him and he was heading to go watch some film this morning on game day. Everybody is thinking that it is a crazy thing, but that is his standard.”

“He has always talked to us, whether it is pregame or in practice,” WR Josh Huff said.  “He has always talked to us and makes sure we are good, make sure we are relaxed and make sure we are going to make the plays that we need to make. And if we don’t make the plays, he is going to come back to us and let us know. He is not going to come away from us, but he is going to come back to us and let us redeem ourselves.”

Late in the first quarter after a drop by WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Wentz gave a nod, embraced him in the huddle and on the very next play threw a 19-yard strike to him again. Confidence in young receivers can be shaky, but Wentz’ trust in his teammates is special. He continues to spread the ball around, with seven players having at least two receptions.

The Eagles running backs had themselves a game this week. RB Wendell Smallwood, a fifth round draft pick out of West Virginia, took advantage of RB Ryan Mathews’ lingering ankle issue with 17 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown. RB Kenjon Barner added 8 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown. Sproles was the true game breaker with six receptions for 128 yards and the aforementioned greatest touchdown in recorded history.

As good as the offense has been, it’s the defense that deserves even more credit. The fourth ranked defensive unit held the high-flying, potent Steelers offense to three points, 251 yards and just two visits to the red zone. They set the tone early with DT Bennie Logan blocking a 36-yard field goal on the Steelers first drive, and never looked back. The Eagles got pressure without blitzing most of the game with four sacks on QB Ben Roethlisberger, with two of them by DT Fletcher Cox.

“It’s a compliment,” Cox said.  “We know Coach Schwartz is not going to blitz. We know he likes to rush up. We have to have four, really eight guys that are ready to rush. I think we did a great job of getting to the quarterback.”

The defense is getting contributions across the board. Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod have been absolutely everywhere, with McLeod having an incredibly athletic interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. LB Nigel Bradham has been covering incredibly well. The craziest part is that despite yesterday’s beat down, there were several dropped interceptions.

“We still can be better. We can grow. We’re not comfortable,” Cox said. “That’s what I think about this team. Nobody is comfortable or patting themselves on the back. We know we can be better. We just have to take this bye week, take a little time off to come back and get ready for Detroit.”

In this space last week, it was strongly advised to secure tickets for the Super Bowl. Despite how tongue in cheek it was, a straight up dismantling of a team many considered one of the favorites to represent the AFC will open a ton of eyes. It was at the very least, a clear statement to Eagles fans across the country that may have still had this year’s team penciled in for only six or seven wins. The Eagles own the best point differential in the league with +65, the best time of possession (Eat your heart out, Chip!), and are second overall in turnover differential. The players are certainly buying in to what Coach Pederson is selling.

Suddenly, the Eagles are 3-0 going into the bye week, one of five teams to remain undefeated. The only other NFC team, former QB Sam Bradford’s Minnesota Vikings come to town October 23rd. The Eagles travel to face the Detroit Lions after the bye week.

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