It was his fourth touchdown that hurt the Eagles the most. When Chase Claypool beat Nate Gerry and broke free for a 35-yard scamper, it was officially done. Game over, Steelers 38, Eagles 29.
Claypool, the second-round pick out of Notre Dame, enjoyed a career day. He was selected four picks ahead of Jalen Hurts. The rookie receiver hauled in seven balls for 110 yards and four scores (three catching, one rushing), none bigger than the game-sealer. He caught it on 3rd-and-8 with 2:49 left in the fourth quarter.
“It was a great route,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson told reporters after the game. “It was a double move with a receiver obviously on a linebacker and they caught us in a two deep look at that point. It was a tough call but it was well executed by them for the score.”
The Eagles know a thing or two about biting on double moves. It’s been a struggle for their cornerbacks — most notably Jalen Mills — over the years. The latest mental lapse from Gerry is extra troubling considering the increasing scrutiny he’s been under. Safety Rodney McLeod raced over to follow Claypool … too late.
“We just didn’t execute well,” McLeod said. “That was a point of emphasis coming into this game, and every game, honestly.”
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Jim Schwartz Eviscerated on FOX Broadcast
The FOX broadcast team eviscerated defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz for not switching up his personnel on the final Claypool dagger. Everyone knew what was coming as evidenced by the grin on Ben Roethlisberger’s face.
Former Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma called the game and demanded to know why the Eagles didn’t double team Claypool or bring safety help over. Philly didn’t even take a timeout to adjust their alignment, something Vilma pointed out before predicting the exact play.
He wasn’t the only one. Roethlisberger played Nostradamus when he later revealed that he had correctly read the pre-snap defense and changed the play on the fly.
“We expected them on that particular play to kind of go with an all-out blitz,” Roethlisberger said. “We had a play called to get the ball out quick and hopefully try and beat the blitz. They sat back in a cover-two zone, and it just wasn’t what we expected. I saw that, and I changed the play.”
It looked like Gerry’s fault but Schwartz should have known better. He defended Gerry earlier in the week for not always being out of position when people think he is. On this one, he was overmatched by the 6-foot-4 rookie.
Pederson Defends 57-Yard Field Goal Attempt
Perhaps the most head-scratching moment of the afternoon came late in the fourth quarter — 3 minutes, 18 seconds left in the game — when Pederson opted to attempt a 57-yard field goal on a crucial 4th-and-5.
Kicker Jake Elliott sailed it wide right and the Steelers took over near midfield. Why not go for it there?
“Felt comfortable where we were on the field, obviously,” Pederson said. “It was a tough situation to be in that fourth-and-long situation there, and well within Jake’s range to kick the field goal.”
It was quite the reversal for the insanely aggressive head coach who river-boated his way to a gutsy win last week. That was one week after Pederson declined to send Elliott out for a 64-yarder in the infamous tie game.
The Eagles are now 1-3-1 and fell to second place in the NFC East following an improbable Cowboys’ win against the Giants. Andy Dalton relieved Dak Prescott following a gruesome ankle injury. The Dallas quarterback is done for the season.
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