PITTSBURGH -- Instant replay challenges, penalties, rain and lightning made it a long night for the Philadelphia Eagles. The way his team played made it feel even longer for Steelers coach Bill Cowher.
Donovan McNabb and A.J. Feeley directed long first-half drives and the Eagles benefited from an instant replay reversal that took away a Pittsburgh touchdown in beating the Steelers 21-16 Saturday night.
The slow-moving game, delayed by replay reviews and 147 yards of penalties just in the first half, was halted by lightning for 31 minutes in the third quarter and didn't end until more than four hours after starting.
"And we've still got a long ways to go," Steelers safety Brent Alexander said. "Coach didn't say very much because he's probably saving it up for Monday. I'm sure we'll hear about it then."
The Eagles went three-and-out on their first two possessions before putting together drives of 66 and 87 yards to open a 14-3 lead on Correll Buckhalter's 1-yard run and Feeley's 1-yard completion to Kori Dickerson. Just before halftime, Freddie Milons' 82-yard kickoff return set up Feeley's second 1-yard scoring pass, to Billy McMullen.
The Eagles had a substantial edge in yardage when only starters were on the field, though some regulars played for both teams for most of the first half.
McNabb, playing only the first quarter, was nearly as sharp as he was in going 5-for-5 for 58 yards on a 75-yard scoring drive in a 27-17 victory Monday at New Orleans.
"You have to remember we're still in camp," McNabb said. "Our legs aren't as fresh as we want them to be. We're not showing everything in our offense, we're just staying with the basics and trying to get better."
McNabb was 8-of-10 on the 66-yard drive, with completions of 13 and 11 yards to James Thrash a 19-yard throw to Chad Lewis at the 2. On third-and-1, Buckhalter was spun around by Kendrell Bell's hit and looked to be stopped short of the goal line, but his touchdown was upheld on review.
Cowher was visibly upset with that call, twice arguing with referee Walt Anderson, but was at full regular-season rage after Antwaan Randle El's apparent 14-yard touchdown catch was overturned in the second quarter.
Randle El, who had just completed a 12-yard pass while lining up at quarterback, caught Tommy Maddox's pass in the left corner of the end zone and got both feet down before hitting the chalk line. However, Anderson decided following a lengthy review that Randle El was juggling the ball.
"We were able to keep them out of the end zone with a pretty good call by the refs," Eagles safety Brian Dawkins.
Maddox couldn't believe it when the call was reversed, saying one of the other officials on the field - he didn't name him - said it was a "no-brainer call."
"I've never seen anything like that," Maddox said. "I thought he got two feet down, then got one of those feet down again. That was unfortunate."
The call forced the Steelers to settle for the first of Jeff Reed's two field goals, and Philadelphia responded by going on a second consecutive touchdown drive after Feeley replaced McNabb.
Chad Scott was twice called for pass interference on that drive, including a 29-yard infraction for tugging at McMullen's arm that gave the Eagles a first down at the 12.
The Steelers brought back Scott and Dewayne Washington as their cornerbacks despite repeated coverage problems last season that saw the NFL's top defense in 2001 slip to 20th in pass defense. Reserve cornerback Chidi Iwuoma also drew a 12-yard interference penalty on the drive that started with Milons' return.
Despite the help from the penalties, Eagles coach Andy Reid was pleased with Feeley, though not enough to designate him as the No. 2 quarterback ahead of Koy Detmer.
Feeley was 9-of-17 for 41 yards before giving way to Tim Hasselbeck late in the third quarter.
"I thought he did a real good job in there with our No. 1 offensive line," Reid said. "I like the way we moved the ball with him in there."
With the Steelers' work-in-progress offensive line still struggling, Maddox didn't complete a pass until midway through the second quarter. Maddox was 6-of-13 for 46 yards, mostly during a 75-yard drive ended by Jerome Bettis' 4-yard run.
Bettis, coming off a second straight injury-interrupted season, carried three times for five yards and has only 24 yards on 11 carries through two preseason games. Charlie Batch replaced Maddox and was 10 of 18 for 94 yards.
It didn't help Bettis that center Jeff Hartings sat out with a knee injury and right guard Kendall Simmons, who missed nearly three weeks of camp because of diabetes, played only briefly.
The only scoring during a steady rain that followed the lightning delay came on Steelers rookie Jonathan Ruffin's 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
The Associated Press News Service
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