Steelers fall to Eagles

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Eagles recorded nine sacks – including eight on Ben Roethlisberger – sending the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 15-6 defeat here at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday.

As a result, the Steelers fall to 2-1 and now face a critical early-season AFC North matchup next Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens, who improved to 2-0 Sunday with a 28-10 win over Cleveland.

The victory was costly for the Eagles (2-1).

Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook suffered a sprained ankle in the first half and did not return. Quarterback Donovan McNabb was also banged up, suffering a rib injury in the first half that kept him in the locker room until Philadelphia's second possession of the third quarter.

But while Philadelphia's offense struggled after a strong start – McNabb completed his first 15 passes for 141 yards – it was the Eagles defense that stole the show. McNabb finished 24 of 35 for 196 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

After the Steelers drive 56 yards on their opening possession of the game to take a 3-0 lead, they gained just 124 yards the rest of the game, 51 of which came on their final series with the Eagles playing a prevent defense.

Roethlisberger, who entered the game as the NFL's top-rated passer, completed 13 of 25 passes for 131 yards and one interception, but was hit more than a dozen times in addition to the eight sacks he took.

He left with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter with an injury to his right hand after being sacked and stripped of the ball by safety Brian Dawkins.

Without Westbrook, however, the Eagles couldn't get a lot of offense going, either.

Westbrook was injured on the first play of the second quarter and did not return.

The Eagles finished off that possession with their only touchdown of the game, a 20-yard pass from McNabb to Correll Buckhalter, but struggled moving the ball after that.

The Eagles defenders seemed to respond to the loss of their top offensive weapon by turning up the pressure. After failing to get to Roethlisberger in the first quarter, Philadelphia recorded six sacks in the second, with the third one setting up a 31-yard David Akers field goal.

On third-and-three from the Philadelphia 49, Roethlisberger was taken down by Juqua Parker and lost the ball. Broderick Bunkley recovered and the Eagles drove to the Pittsburgh 13 before settling for a 10-3 lead.

Bryant McFadden's interception of McNabb at the Philadelphia 49 set up a 53-yard Jeff Reed field goal – his career long – late in the first half as the Steelers trailed just 10-6 despite Philadelphia's second quarter onslaught.

That's the way the game stayed until the Steelers were pinned deep in their own territory by a 54-yard punt by Sav Rocca.

After back-to-back carries by Willie Parker – who gained just 20 yards on 13 carries – and Carey Davis netted a loss of one yard, Roethlisberger dropped back to pass on third down from his own 5.

Defensive end Trent Cole chased Roethlisberger to his left and dove on the quarterback's legs. Roethlisberger attempted to throw the ball out of his end zone while going down, but was penalized for intentional grounding, giving the Eagles a safety.

Tomlin attempted to argue that there was a receiver in the area Roethlisberger threw to, but replays showed the quarterback's knee touched the ground before he released the ball, so the safety would have been recorded either way.

Dawkins' sack and forced fumble gave Philadelphia the ball back at the Pittsburgh 18 on the Steelers' next possession and Akers booted a 31-yard field goal to put the game out of reach.

Byron Leftwich replaced Roethlisberger on Pittsburgh's final possession and moved the Steelers to the Philadelphia 13 before the drive stalled and they turned the ball over on downs.

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