Eagles waste breakout performance by Travis Fulgham in loss to Steelers | Observations

Laveta Brigham

The Eagles (1-3-1) lost their third game of the season agonizingly Sunday, falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 38-29. The Eagles fought back from a 31-14 deficit and had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but Jake Elliott missed a 57-yard field goal with 3:18 remaining that […]

The Eagles (1-3-1) lost their third game of the season agonizingly Sunday, falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 38-29.

The Eagles fought back from a 31-14 deficit and had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but Jake Elliott missed a 57-yard field goal with 3:18 remaining that would’ve given them a lead.

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Here are 11 observations from Sunday’s loss to the Steelers:

Travis Fulgham’s emergence

Travis Fulgham is quickly becoming the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver with De Sean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery sidelined. Fulgham caught 10 of passes for 152 yards and a touchdown, including a 31-yard catch on third-and-12 that kept alive a drive that got the Eagles back in the game in the third quarter. Fulgham was called up from the practice squad last week.

Fulgham has earned Carson Wentz’s trust, with the quarterback looking Fulgham’s way 13 times and trusted him enough to target him on key downs in the fourth quarter. He also has done something that most of the Eagles receivers have not been able to do: Make contested catches down the field.

Ill-timed penalties by the Eagles defense

The Eagles defensive line has been lauded for the pressure they put on opposing offenses this season, but have committed costly penalties. On the fourth-quarter drive and the Eagles down by two, defensive end Brandon Graham was called for a facemask penalty that led to the touchdown that sealed the Steelers win. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson was called for a personal foul penalty in the first quarter that led to another Steelers touchdown.

Being aggressive is one thing. But not knowing the situation and committing these penalties are the mark of a team with a 1-3-1 record and are inexcusable. Offsides penalties, which also have hurt the Eagles, are mental lapses that shouldn’t happen, especially along the defensive line when the players have direct sight of the ball.

Eagles decision to kick the field goal

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson decided to try a 57-yard field goal with 3:13 left in the fourth quarter. Elliot pushed the kick wide right to give the ball back to the Steelers near midfield. The Steelers wound up taking valuable time off the clock. Pederson made the right decision to attempt the field goal, but the kick would have been the longest made in the history of Heinz Field.

Blocking downfield winds up paying off

On a first-quarter, 74-yard touchdown run by Miles Sanders, wide receivers Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside were still blocking about 40 yards away from the line of scrimmage. Effort plays like that go a long way in the run game.

Eagles linebackers played one of their better games Sunday

The Eagles linebackers played tackled much better on Sunday. Nate Gerry shifted to middle linebacker, replacing the injured T.J. Edwards. The Eagles also brought in Alex Singleton to start. Singleton did an ok job in pass coverage. All of the linebackers did a much better job with their tackling, something they had struggled with in the past few weeks. Gerry was in coverage against Chase Claypool on the Steelers’ final touchdown and should not have been covering the wide receiver.

Hightower takes the role of DeSean Jackson and is the deep threat

The Eagles used Hightower as the deep threat, throwing deep to him three times in the first half to try to put pressure on the Steelers secondary. Hightower would like to have the third attempt back if he could, as the pass looked like as if it were just behind him, but still within his catch radius. The play would have resulted in a touchdown. However, the drive ended with no points on the board.

The pressure and hits on Carson Wentz began to take their toll

The offensive line gave up five sacks against the Steelers. After right tackle Lane Johnson went out, Jack Driscoll came in to replace him. The Steelers have one of the best defensive lines in the league and it showed. Two of the sacks were “coverage sacks,” when Eagles receivers failed to get open in the first half.

Wentz-Ertz mix up leading to an interception is inexcusable

Wentz threw another interception, his eighth of the season. On the play, Ertz was bumped down the field but recovered and ran the route outside. The only problem was he slowed up, and Wentz threw in his direction. The two have looked out of sync lately. Ertz has been Wentz’s safety blanket for the past few seasons. One has to wonder if Ertz’s contract situation is beginning to distract the Pro Bowl tight end.

Eagles get beat on the misdirection once again

In what seemingly has been happening every week, the Eagles here hurt again by the misdirection. Steelers Ray-Ray McCloud ran an end-around for 58 yards that would later set up a Pittsburgh touchdown. The backside defensive ends have been overly aggressive coming off the edge and have not kept contain, allowing the big plays to happen and immediately give up momentum.

Kickoff returns put the offense in bad field position

Steelers kicker Chris Boswell looked as if he intentionally did not kick the ball into the endzone for a touchback. Boston Scott, who was the kick returner, was not able to get the ball back to the 25 twice, putting the offense in bad position to start drives.

Eagles go for two again

Doug Pederson decided to go for two after the Fulgham touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Wentz converted the attempt by finding Hightower in the back of the end zone to get the two points.

Pederson went for two last week and converted on that attempt. Pederson is trying to be aggressive and keep his team in games.

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