If the third preseason game is the dress rehearsal for the regular season, then the Philadelphia Eagles are ready to raise the curtain. The Eagles first team offense and defense dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night, cruising to a convincing win. This will be the last time the Eagles starters see extended time this preseason and they made the most out it.
Quarterback Nick Foles led Philadelphia on two touchdown drives in the first half. Foles was not as sharp as he could have been, but was efficient enough to keep the offense moving to the tune of 251 first half yards. He finished the game 19-29 passing for 179 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Mark Sanchez relieved Foles after halftime and craved up the Steelers first team defense completing 7-9 for 85 yards and leading the Eagles on two more touchdown drives.
LeSean McCoy put in his first extended work of the preseason and looked good. He scored on a 22 yard screen pass that was executed beautifully. He left the game with a thumb injury and did not return. The results of his MRI were negative on that thumb and he should be ready for the regular season opener.
There was much to be determined coming into the Steelers game for the Eagles' running backs. Once McCoy left the game, Darren Sproles and Matthew Tucker took over. Sproles punched in a one yard touchdown and finished with six carries for 33 yards. Tucker may be the favorite to land the Eagles third running back spot as he scored two touchdowns against Pittsburgh, upping his total to four this preseason. He received the most carries in the game with 10 for 46 yards. Recently acquired Kenjon Barner saw his first action with the Eagles, carrying seven times for 32 yards and contributing on kickoff returns.
The Eagles had a scary moment when wide receiver Jeremy Maclin hyper extended his knee in the second quarter. It looked bad, but Maclin returned to action on the next series. He caught six passes for 43 yards in the game. Riley Cooper saw his first action of the preseason and caught three passes for 25 yards, but did have a few drops.
Philadelphia imposed their will in the trenches against the Steelers. The first team offensive line pass protected well for Foles, giving him plenty of time to go through his reads. Center Jason Kelce and guard Todd Herremans threw key blocks on the McCoy touchdown. The second team offensive line picked up where the first team left off, dominating the Steelers' first team defense. They were instrumental in both scoring drives capped off by Tucker touchdowns.
The Eagles first team defense was as impressive as the offense. They were able to shut the Steelers out in the first half. Cornerback Nolan Carroll returned from a groin injury and made an interception in his first preseason action of the year. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks showed off his speed, racing around the field and making four tackles. Pass rushers Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham continue their terrific preseason as both recorded sacks. The team's third down defense was also improved considerably from the first two weeks.
Philadelphia has one more preseason game before the regular season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Eagles proved they are ready for the opener with a strong performance against the Steelers. The final preseason game will feature very little from the starters and focus on the players trying to make the final roster.
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