The Philadelphia Eagles will visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in what should be a rugged non-conference game against an intra-state rival at Heinz Field. The Eagles (3-1) are coming off a huge 19-17 victory over NFC East rival and defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
The Steelers (1-2) are looking for a win. Pittsburgh has one victory over the New York Jets (27-10). They’ve dropped two decisions to the Denver Broncos (31-19) and most recently to the Oakland Raiders (34-31). Pittsburgh has just completed its bye week.
The Eagles will carry some momentum into this contest. Michael Vick, Eagles quarterback, had a solid performance in the victory over the Giants. He completed 19-of-30 passes for 241 yards and one touchdown pass. He had six carries for 49 yards.
Moreover, Vick had zero turnovers.
“That’s a good thing, and we’re making progress in the right direction,” said Andy Reid, Eagles head coach. “He’s been knocking the rust off from not playing. This game is so stinking fast that if you have no snaps in the preseason and you’re asked to come out and play at a high level against the football teams we’re playing against, particularly against the defenses we’re playing against, it’s tough. It’s tough for anybody. As great of a player as he is, it’s tough. He found himself, and he did a nice job with it.”
The Eagles did a good job of mixing the run with the pass against the Giants. LeSean McCoy, Eagles running back, had 23 carries for 123 yards. McCoy averaged 5.3 yards a carry. DeSean Jackson was the Eagles leading receiver. Jackson had six receptions for 99 yards including a 19-yard TD catch from Vick.
Defensively, the Steelers are led by linebacker Larry Foote (18 solo tackles, one sack) and safeties Ryan Clark (13 solo, one interception) and Ryan Mundy (10 solo tackles).
On offense, Pittsburgh could be a handful with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is having another good year. Roethlisberger has completed 80-of-120 passes for 904 yards with 8 TD passes and just one interception. Isaac Redman, former Paulsboro High and Bowie State star, is the Steelers leading rusher. Redman has 32 carries for 72 yards and one TD. The ex-South Jersey standout has six receptions for 42 yards.
Roethlisberger has a prolific passing attack with wide receivers Antonio Brown (18 receptions for 240 yards and one TD), Mike Wallace (17 receptions for 234 yards and 3 TDs) and tight end Heath Miller (15 receptions for 129 yards and 4 TDs). These receivers will test the Eagles secondary. Kurt Coleman, Eagles safety, had four solo tackles against the Giants. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eagles defensive back, had four solo tackles and one interception. Brandon Boykin, rookie defensive back, also had four solo tackles.
Vick knows how difficult it is to win in this league. That’s why the victory over the Giants has great significance in the NFC East.
“It means a lot,” Vick said. “It means a lot to be 3-1. It means a lot to be at the top of the division. We still have a lot of tough games ahead of us but that’s what it’s all about. This is the NFL and this is why we play this game.”
NOTES: The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its list of nominees for 2013, including a number of former Eagles: Randall Cunningham, Ron Jaworski, Brian Mitchell, Herschel Walker, Ricky Watters, Cris Carter, Jimmy Smith, Carl Hairston, Eric Allen, Troy Vincent, Gary Anderson, Sean Landeta, Dick Vermeil, Bud Carson, Bill Cowher, Leo Carlin and Otho Davis.