So just how awful were things for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday?
The number of players who left the game with injuries and did not return surpassed the number of points the Steelers scored as they were trounced 34-3 by the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (shin) was injured in the first half and taken to a hospital for evaluation. Strong safety Robert Golden (hamstring) and left guard Ramon Foster (chest) were also knocked out of the game in the first half, while free safety Mike Mitchell (knee) and wide receiver Eli Rogers (toe) joined them on the sidelines in the second half.
However, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t using injuries as any excuse as his team fell hard from the ranks of the unbeaten, dropping to 2-1 following victories over the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals.
“Those injuries aren’t the reason why we performed the way we did,” Tomlin in his postgame news conference. “We had 11 on the grass on every snap. The 11 on the grass didn’t get it done. We accept responsibility for that.”
The Steelers’ 11 were certainly outperformed by the 11 from the team on the other side of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“They got after us,” Tomlin said. “We have to have a better plan and we have to execute the plan better. They had a better plan and they executed their plan better. It’s simple, really.”
Carson Wentz burned the defense for 301 yards and two touchdowns, marking just the third time in 22 games the Steelers have lost to a rookie quarterback since 2004. Philadelphia added another 125 yards rushing to finish with 426 in total offense.
Meanwhile, the Steelers could manage only a field goal against the surprising Eagles (3-0) after averaging 31 points in their first two games and fell behind so far that they had to abandon the running game, finishing with only 10 rushes compared to 44 passes. Wide receiver Antonio Brown had 12 receptions for 140 yards, most of those numbers coming after the game had been decided.
For good measure, the Steelers were penalized 10 times for 99 yards and had a field goal attempt blocked.
“We got our butt kicked,” Brown said. “We couldn’t put any points up and we couldn’t get any stops. We got blown out.”
The Steelers will now have to take stock of their injuries as they get to host the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) next Sunday night at Heinz Field.
L.J. Fort replaced Timmons, Shamarko Thomas took over for Golden, rookie Sean Davis filled in for Mitchell, and B.J. Finney replaced Foster. Though a reserve, Rogers has become a valuable member of the offense in his first season as a slot receiver.
The potentially biggest loss would be that of Foster, a veteran presence on the offensive line while playing next to second-year left tackle Alejandro Villanueva.
Finney was invited to the Steelers’ rookie minicamp last year after going undrafted following his senior season at Kansas State. He made a good enough showing to get an invitation to training camp and, though he didn’t make the season-opening roster, he was signed to the practice squad.
The Steelers were so intrigued by Finney that they bumped his salary up to the NFL minimum late in the season when other teams showed interest in signing him. He made his debut in this year’s opener by playing five snaps against the Redskins but did not see action in Week 2 against the Bengals.
Finney drew praise from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for his work in subbing for Foster on a day where there weren’t many plaudits being handed out by the Steelers.
“I thought B.J. came in and did some really good things,” Roethlisberger said. “You lose experience. You lose a guy that has played a lot of football games that (center Maurkice) Pouncey knows, that Al (Villanueva) knows. But we say next guy up and B.J. did that.”