The Eagles won the game, but the players who won it probably won’t even be on the roster in a couple of weeks. As for the players who will be here, they’re fortunate this game didn’t count.
The Eagles’ starters struggled in their 24-23 victory over the Steelers in their preseason opener on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field, and that’s on both sides of the ball.
The defense allowed the Steelers to hold the ball for almost 10 minutes on their first possession of the game and the offense went three-and-out in its only two series.
So, it was up to the deep reserves to outplay their Steelers counterparts and they did, and several of the young players looked good against other third- and fourth-stringers.
Here’s a look back at the preseason opener:

The return game: One of the Eagles’ primary goals in training camp is to find a couple of young returners who can help them win the battle for field position, which they lost most of the time last season. Two rookies showed encouraging flashes, CB Brandon Boykin and WR Damaris Johnson.
Boykin returned a kickoff 46 yards, which is seven yards longer than any Eagles KO return last season. And Johnson showed some flashy moves returning a punt 39 yards, which would have been the second longest punt return last season.
“They were fast, quick, and there was no hesitation," Andy Reid said of Boykin and Johnson. "They were hitting it, and I thought that was a positive.”
The young quarterback: Rookie Nick Foles played the third quarter and threw two touchdown passes to give the Eagles a lead. On the first, he stepped up into the pocket and hit Johnson for 70 yards and on the other he connected with rookie WR Mardy Gilyard for 44 yards down the left sideline.
“I thought he did a pretty good job,’’ Reid said. “He was a little bit slow and hesitant on his first couple of throws, but then he just picked it up and went from there. Keeping his eyes down the field on the throw to Damaris was a big-time play right there. He got flushed to the right, and he maintained his eyes downfield. That’s something you’re always trying to teach quarterbacks to do, and it looked like it was pretty natural for him.”
The young kicker: OK, it doesn’t really count, but second-year man Alex Henery kicked a game-winning, 51-yard field goal with 12 seconds left to play. Henery had a terrific rookie season, but he was never called on to deliver in the clutch. So, even though it was just a preseason game, it was a positive sign to see him bang it through the uprights.
“Every kicker I think looks to get those,’’ Henery said, “so it’s good to get practice in and I’ll know how to handle a situation like that.”
The starting offense: Maybe it’s because the Steelers offense held the ball for the first 10 minutes of the game and the Eagles offense feel asleep, but the home team did absolutely nothing when they finally got their hands on the ball. They were on the field for two possessions; the first lasted just three plays and lost five yards and the second lasted three plays and gained two yards. That’s a total of three yards on two possessions.
“Honestly, I was kind of frustrated,’’ WR DeSean Jackson said. “The first quarter went by kind of fast. It was kind of unfortunate.’’
Said running back LeSean McCoy: “I think everybody was a little bit nervous today, with everything going around, and finally getting out here. We just need to settle down a little bit and get into our rhythm. We’ll be fine.”
The starting defense: They allowed the Steelers to hold onto the ball for almost all of the first quarter and some of the problems they had last year resurfaced, including poor tacking. The defense did stiffen near the goal line, but it hardly looked like a dominating unit.
“We obviously still have to work on things and get better,’’ linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. “And we had some missed tackles, so we have to tackle better.”
The No. 2 (for now) quarterback: The backup QB job is Mike Kafka’s to lose, and he took a step in that direction against the Steelers. Kafka completed 5 of 9 passes for 31 yards and he threw a bone-headed interception that was almost returned for a TD. His QB rating for the game was just 23.1, whereas Foles’ QB rating was 143.8.
Reid was noncommittal when asked about Kafka’s performance.
“I’ve got to look at the tape,’’ he said. “I’ll see what we can do there for him, and see where the mistakes were.”
Still, it’s clear Kafka will have to play much better or the Eagles will go shopping for a veteran QB to back up Michael Vick.
Injury report: The most important one is Vick’s bruised thumb. X-rays at halftime were negative and Vick later said he doesn’t think the injury is serious. He initially lost feeling in the thumb, but that returned later in the night and he was able to grip a football.
Other injuries included three hamstring pulls, to DT Cullen Jenkins, RB Dion Lewis and WR Jeremy Maclin, who strained his during pregame warm-ups. Reid said Jenkins’ injury doesn’t appear serious and Lewis was scheduled to have an MRI on Friday.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Philadelphia Eagles from blogger Kevin Noonan, follow him on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLPHI.