PHILADELPHIA – On the occasion of a similarly disappointing performance by the Steelers a few days before a mandatory roster cut-down, Chuck Noll was asked whether what he had just seen would make the paring of the roster more difficult.
In the preseason game most closely resembling a dress rehearsal for the upcoming regular season, the Steelers turned in their worst performance of the summer. It was difficult to watch – because of the overall sloppiness and the 27 accepted penalties – and it was disappointing in that it represented a regression in their play that was frightening to behold.
The final score was 31-21, but don’t let those numbers fool you. Fourteen of those Steelers points came in garbage time. When the Steelers’ first units called it a night, the Eagles had a 31-7 lead late in the third quarter. That’s a more accurate portrayal of what happened last night at Lincoln Financial Field.
And that’s the image General Manager Kevin Colbert and Coach Mike Tomlin will have when they begin the process of cutting down the roster to the mandatory limit of 75 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 26. And what they saw on Thursday night here makes Noll’s statement easy to understand.
The Steelers lost the coin toss, and then they couldn’t match the Eagles intensity early. They made some mistakes and lost the battle on third downs both offensively and defensively. Throw in some timely and costly penalties, and the deficit began to mount. What started at 7-0 became 14-0 and then 17-0 by halftime.
“I’m not going to predict the future whether we are ready (for the regular season) or not,” said
It’s certainly dangerous to put too much stock into the results of preseason games, but it was disappointing that the Steelers played their worst against what was the best team they had faced so far. It was disappointing that they weren’t as ready to play as their opponent.
It was disappointing that they failed so miserably to give Tomlin what he was seeking this week, which was a team effort in which all three phases worked in harmony toward a victory. In fact, the case can be made that all three phases worked in harmony to create what turned into a decisive defeat.
A lot of attention will be paid to the incident involving Le’Veon Bell and
But using that to explain the game’s outcome, that would be giving them the easy way out. This loss wasn’t because of some distraction. It was because the Steelers got handled on both sides of the ball.