Eagles sack Ben Roethlisberger, drop Steelers 15-6

The Eagles bounced back from their Monday night defeat in Dallas by shutting down Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers 15-6 in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Ben RoethlisbergerIt was over when …
Steelers backup QB Byron Leftwich threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-10 with 35 seconds remaining to end their slim chances of pulling off an improbable comeback. The Eagles took over on downs and kneeled down to run out the clock.

Game ball
This contest featured a dominant performance by the Eagles’ front-seven on defense, but not to be overlooked was the sensational effort from Philadelphia punter Sav Rocca. Rocca punted the ball three times in the fourth quarter and all were pivotal in the victory. In the Eagles’ first possession of the quarter, they were forced to punt from their own 11-yard line. The Steelers expected to get the ball back in good field position, but Rocca boomed a 64-yarder that Santonio Holmes was only able to return for 5 yards because of its hang time. On his next effort, Rocca blasted another 54-yarder that went out of bounds and pinned the Steelers at their own 6-yard line. Finally, Rocca used his touch to kick a 37-yarder that bounced out at the Steelers’ 7-yard line. Without those punts, the Eagles may not have gotten the win.

Key stat
The Eagles recorded nine sacks and a safety during the game and had at least twice that many knock-downs. Even more amazing, is that the stat is somewhat deceiving because Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger barely escaped four other times and was credited with 6 rushing yards on those plays. If Roethlisberger was less elusive, the Eagles very easily could have tallied 15 sacks or more.

Noteworthy
Eagles RB Brian Westbrook left in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. … Roethlisberger left late in the fourth quarter with a hand injury and did not return. … The Steelers did not have a play of 20-yards or more until Heath Miller’s 21-yard grab with less than two minutes left. … In one eight-play stretch of the second quarter, the Steelers gave up five sacks, committed a false start penalty and threw an interception. … Pittsburgh did not get into the red zone until its final drive. … Donovan McNabb set a new Eagles franchise record with his 176th career touchdown pass..

I think Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Johnson took out his frustrations from Monday night on the Steelers today because he was absolutely relentless in blitzing his defenders (even more than he usually is). And had RB Brian Westbrook not suffer an injury early in the game, it’s likely the Eagles would have won by more than nine points.

It was clear Big Ben’s shoulder dramatically affected his play today. Several times throughout the game he set up to throw long and checked down to his running back instead. And while he normally has issues holding on to the ball too long in the pocket, it was a major problem today. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the Steelers choose to rest Roethlisberger over the next couple weeks with tough defenses in Baltimore and Jacksonville coming up.

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