Roller coaster game ends in defeat for Eagles
The optimist does have some material to work with following the Eagles 38-29 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Despite being underdogs, the Birds were trading punches with the undefeated Steelers and with just three minutes left, they had a chance to take the lead with a Jake Elliott field goal from 57 yards out. He missed wide right and the Steelers took over with terrific field position and little time left. The kick was close, but no cigar.
Unfortunately, the pessimist has long manifestos of material for every paragraph the optimist may produce as it relates to the Eagles play this 2020 season. After some quick stops to begin the game, the Eagles defense had immense trouble slowing down the Steelers offense, ultimately surrendering 38 points. This was the first time the Steelers had scored more than 30 points in more than a full season’s worth of games. Had Jake Elliott made that kick and put the Eagles ahead, even so late in the game, it is doubtful whether the Eagles’ defense could have protected the lead.
Oh, and Carson Wentz now has a league-leading nine interceptions. He was soundly outplayed by opposing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (see below) and has yet to put together a mistake-free game. Let’s dive into three more takeaways from Sunday’s game.
Fulgham emerges as top receiving option
Travis Fulgham was cut by not one, but two different NFL teams over the offseason (the Lions and Packers). Oh how he must be laughing now. Last week, he flashed what he was capable of with a go-ahead 42 yard touchdown. This week he was even more impressive, totalling 152 yards and a touchdown on ten receptions. Wentz peppered him with target after target as the Steelers appeared incapable of locating him in the secondary. Even when he was closely shadowed, Fulgham displayed his ability to make contested catches in the air.
The Birds are still anticipating the return of wideouts DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, but even so, Travis Fulgham, through his exceptional play, has earned his role in the Eagles’ offense.
Claypool explodes for 4 touchdowns
The Steelers also got a breakout game from a young receiver. One of their 2020 rookie selections, Chase Claypool, scored a full four touchdowns (three through the air, one on the ground) while torching the Eagles’ secondary with ease. He caught seven passes for 110 yards as the Birds chose to focus their secondary resources to defend fellow Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Claypool’s performance resulted in the most touchdowns all time by a Steelers rookie. For the fantasy football crowd out there, it was also a historic day. Claypool had the most PPR fantasy points by a rookie wide receiver since 1996 (Eddie Kennison).
I noted last week that Carson Wentz would likely need to play on par with Ben Roethlisberger for the Eagles to win this game. That did not happen. During stretches, Wentz did look good during this game. However, he once again failed to achieve consistent play for four quarters and his final statline (20/35 for 258 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions) is once again in the territory of mediocre to subpar.
Meanwhile, Roethlisberger’s stellar season rolls on. The Steelers quarterback flirted with perfection completing 27 of 34 passes for 239 yards, three touchdowns, and zero picks. Granted, he has a greater quantity and quality of weapons surrounding him.
Eagles cornerback Darius Slay jr. suffered an undisclosed injury during the fourth quarter of the game. He didn’t return to the contest. Additionally, offensive lineman Lane Johnson was carted to the locker room with an ankle injury. The status of these players moving forward is currently unknown, but expect a further injury update later this week.
The Birds week 6 matchup gets no easier as they do battle with the Baltimore Ravens led by last year’s sensation quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Ravens had little trouble with their week 5 matchup, rolling over the Bengals 27-3. While this is not an encouraging result for the Eagles (they tied the Bengals just a few weeks back), every week is wildly different in today’s NFL.