Philadelphia, PA - The Philadelphia Eagles finally can put a tally in the win column after a 25-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara. It was far from pretty or glamorous, but the Eagles did just enough to get the win. They’re even first place in the NFC East to boot, albeit with one win, but first place is first place.
Much of the game was spent with the two injury-riddled offenses trading three-and-outs. The Eagles were without their starting receivers, leaving a group of nobodies to fill the void. Players like Greg Ward (who has been playing well this season actually), 5th round pick John Hightower, and Travis Fulgham had to try and carry the load. This came with very mixed results.
Wentz often had to hold the ball for far too long or buy time in order to get receivers open. It was a showcase of Wentz’s athleticism and sneaky speed, but not in the way you want to see it. It felt like Wentz was running for his life, and you just had to hold your breath every time he extended a play. Wentz’s deep ball in the fourth quarter to Fulgham was a fantastic play, maybe the best all season. Perfect ball, a great catch, and great athleticism to reach the end zone. That’s Eagles football, and that’s what this team needs.
Defensively, the Eagles were solid. Although they were gashed by tight end George Kittle, and had a little trouble stopping running back Jerrick McKinnon, the Birds did well to hold San Fran to 20 points. A big reason why was the pressure. They terrorized Nick Mullens, and the back-up quarterback looked rattled, especially on the game-sealing pick-six to linebacker Alex Singleton. There was not a single 49er in the area, and while it was a dreadful decision by Mullens, it takes an opportunistic defense to capitalize on those moments.
The schedule gets a whole lot more difficult for the Eagles, as they get to play their in-state foes, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are coming off a COVID-induced bye week and were already one of the hottest teams in the league. Ben Roethlisberger looks refreshed after being sidelined most of last year, Juju Smith-Schuster leads an underrated receiving core, and running back James Conner has been great. The defense for the Steelers continues to be a strength, and they have a serious case for being called the best in football. On paper, Pittsburgh has the talent to run the table and make mincemeat of the Eagles.
That being said.. will they? I don’t think it’ll be as much of a blowout as some think it will be, but for the Eagles to win, they need to be better on offense. It’s so important to be able to run the football, because if we become one-dimensional, then the Steelers defensive backs can absolutely shut down our receivers. Our defense is decent but it can’t contain the Steelers for 60 minutes if our offense struggles. I think the Eagles will compete but fall short.
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PhillyBite sports contributor and Philadelphia Eagles Writer.
Final score: Eagles, 17. Steelers, 24.