While it wasn’t a thing of beauty most of the night, the Steelers walked out of preseason game number one with some good news, and some bad news. First the good news, and that is the team won, looking solid against what should be a good Eagles team 16-10. The first team offense was on the field for all of one drive, but what a drive it was, ending with QB Ben Roethlisberger throwing a 20-yard TD to Santonio Holmes.
Now the bad news. Backup QB Charlie Batch broke his collarbone on a busted play in the second quarter as the team was driving for a score. He took the snap and went for a handoff, but instead was left out to dry, and ended up gaining six yards but lowered his shoulder and took a hit. It was that hit that was believed to have broken the collarbone. The team used rookies Dennis Dixon and Mike Potts the rest of the night on offense.
The Eagles also showed solid signs of progress on offense when the starters were in there. They put up 10 points, three vs the Steelers first team defense on a long drive, and then a TD when QB Donovan McNabb hit fullabck Jason Davis for a three-yard TD that gave Philly a 10-7 lead. McNabb went 10-for-13 for 97 yards and a TD. Another bright spot for the Eagles was the play of rookie WR DeSean Jackson, who hauled in five passes for 51 yards in his first go at as a pro.
The Steelers showed off most of their new offensive weapons, as first round RB Rashard Mendenhall ran the ball 7 times for a team high 34 yards, putting up 4.9 yards per carry. First string RB Willie Parker, coming off a season ending broken leg in week 16 last year, ran the ball three times for 20 yards and looked good on an 11-yard run on the teams first drive. Roethlisberger went 2-for-2 for 38 yards with a score.
The offensive line, which was a main question mark entering camp for the Steelers, held up pretty well in their first test against another team. The team ran for 118 yards, and while the Steelers threw for just 71 net yards, the five up front only allowed one sack all night, a number that needs to continue if the Steelers plan on repeating as AFC North Champions.
Philly had a shot to win the game after the Steelers built a 16-10 lead after three Jeff Reed field goals, the last of which was a 50-yard bomb with 7:28 left. The Eagles got to the Steelers 17-yard-line with :33 seconds left, but A.J. Feeley was incomplete on three straight passes to end the game and perserve the win for the Steelers.