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Steelers vs. Eagles final score: Chase Claypool's record performance propels Pittsburgh to 4-0 start
Claypool's four-touchdown performance helped Pittsburgh stay perfect
Four touchdowns by rookie Chase Claypool propelled the Steelers to a 38-29 victory over the visiting Eagles. Claypool, a second-round pick out of Notre Dame, became the first rookie in franchise history to score four touchdowns in a game and the first Steeler to do so since Roy Jefferson in 1968. His final score, a 35-yard reception with under three minutes left, helped the Steelers hold off the Eagles, who cut Pittsburgh's lead to two points after falling behind 31-14 in the opening minutes of the second half.
Claypool's two first-half touchdowns helped propel Pittsburgh to a 17-14 halftime lead. After both teams traded punts, the Steelers scored first after Claypool's two-yard touchdown run capped off a 14-play drive. Less than a minute after Claypool's score, the Eagles tied the game on Miles Sanders' 74-yard run, the longest run by an Eagles player in 20 years.
Claypool gave Pittsburgh a 14-7 lead after catching Ben Roethlisberger's 32-yard pass on the Steelers' ensuing possession. Philadelphia quickly tied the score again on a one-yard touchdown run by Sanders. Pittsburgh regained the lead on their next possession, as a 17-yard completion from Big Ben to tight end Eric Ebron set up Chris Boswell's 41-yard field goal.
A 58-yard run by Ray-Ray McCloud at the start of the third quarter set up Claypool's third touchdown of the day on a five-yard reception. An interception by Pittsburgh cornerback Steven Nelson moments later set up James Conner's one-yard touchdown run, as Pittsburgh stretched its lead to 17 points.
The Eagles would not go away, however, as quarterback Carson Wentz hit Greg Ward for an eight-yard touchdown pass on the Eagles' next possession. Philadelphia further cut its deficit after Wentz hit receiver John Hightower on a two-point conversion. The Eagles then cut it to two points when Wentz hit Travis Fulgham for a four-yard score less than four minutes into the fourth quarter. Fulgham, a 2019 sixth-round pick who had just two regular season receptions prior to Sunday, caught 10 passes for 152 yards.
But after forcing a turnover on Pittsburgh's next possession, Philadelphia was unable to capitalize after Joe Haden broke up Wentz's third-down pass to Fulgham. Haden's breakup forced the Eagles to try a 57-yard field goal by Jake Elliott, whose kick sailed short and wide right with 3:10 remaining. Less than 20 seconds after the missed field goal, Roethlisberger found a wide open Claypool, who caught Big Ben's pass in stride for a 35-yard score. Pittsburgh then iced the game when Nelson picked off Wentz's desperation heave with just over two minutes left.
Here's a closer look at how the Steelers were able to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1979.
Why the Steelers won
The Steelers' offense did not miss a beat despite last week's unexpected bye. On Sunday, the Steelers' offense topped 30 points for the first time since 2018, as Pittsburgh received an historic effort from rookie Claypool, who led Pittsburgh with 110 receiving yards on seven receptions. Claypool also contributed to a Steelers' rushing attack that churned out 136 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. The Steelers' depth at the skill positions also played a factor, as Roethlisberger completed passes to eight different teammates.
While they allowed the Eagles to convert on 10 of their 14 third down opportunities, the Steelers' defense was able to come up with two late stops that included Nelson's second interception on the Eagles' final possession. Pittsburgh also sacked Wentz five times while holding Philadelphia to under 100 yards rushing. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt's 1.5 sacks paced the Steelers, while outside linebacker T.J. Watt recorded a sack while also leading Pittsburgh with three tackles for loss.
Why the Eagles lost
While Fulgham helped make up for the absences of receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, no other Philadelphia player had more than 37 receiving yards on Sunday. The Eagles' offense, despite Sanders' early success, attempted just 16 runs while becoming one-dimensional.
Philadelphia's pass rush, which led the NFL in sacks heading into Sunday's game, sacked Roethlisberger just once despite Pittsburgh losing Pro Bowl right guard David DeCastro in the first half. The Eagles' defense also allowed the Steelers to go 11 of 15 on third down and a perfect three-of-three in the red zone.
After cutting their deficit to two points, cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc's forced fumble of Ebron gave the Eagles the ball at their own 45-yard-line with 6:19 left. But after crossing midfield, Wentz was sacked by Tuitt before failing to connect with Fulgham on third down. The Eagles then tried -- and missed -- a 57-yard attempt which would have been the longest field goal ever made at Heinz Field. Four plays later, Claypool scored his fourth touchdown of the game, as Pittsburgh stretched its lead to nine points.
Play of the game
There are several to pick from in this game, so we'll settle for a tie between Sanders' long touchdown run and Claypool's final score, which made him the first Steelers player to score four touchdowns in a game in over 50 years. Sanders, a Pittsburgh native, ripped off the Eagles' longest run since Brian Mitchell's 85-yard run against the Falcons in Week 5 of the 2000 season.
"JuJu [Smith-Schuster] might still be up ahead of him, but I'm glad that they were here. They were excited. I'll bet any amount of money that when I get home, they're going to want to play catch, so I better get my arm ready." -- Roethlisberger, during his postgame interview with FOX, on whether or not his three children will want a Claypool jersey after Sunday's performance. Big Ben's family was part of the 5,500 fans in attendance during Sunday's game.
The Steelers will host the Browns next Sunday in what will be Pittsburgh's first game of the season against an NFC North opponent. Pittsburgh split their two games against Cleveland in 2019. Speaking of the AFC North, the Eagles will host Lamar Jackson and the 4-1 Ravens next Sunday.
To relive Sunday's action in real time, check out our live blog below to see all the highlights and analysis from the Steelers' win.
Claypool is now the first rookie in franchise history to score four touchdowns in a game and the first Steeler to do so since Roy Jefferson in 1968. He's scored a touchdown in each quarter, as the Steelers are now two minutes away from being 4-0 to start a season for the first time since 1979.
Officials ruled Eric Ebron's drop an interception, but the ball hit the ground. The play is now under review and should be reversed as the ball clearly hit the ground. Now, if the officials said Ebron fumbled it, that would be a different story, as he did possess the ball for a while before it came out.
Some crazy nuggets with seven minutes left.
Miles Sanders has 80 yards on 11 carries, but 74 of that came on his first half touchdown run.
Ray-Ray McCloud leads the Steelers in rushing with 63 yards, 58 of those coming on one play.
Chase Claypool is the second rookie since the merger to have two receiving touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in one game.
Travis Fulgham, a 2019 six-round pick who had two career catches entering the game, has 10 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown.
Eagles have responded exceptionally well after Wentz's pick, as Philadelphia has cut Pittsburgh's lead to 31-29 with 11:27 left. Wentz is now 18-of-28 with two touchdowns. Travis Fulgham is having a monster game, with 152 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions.
The decision to overturn Claypool's 33-yard catch could be a big turning point in the game. Instead of having the ball in Eagles territory, Pittsburgh punted, and the Eagles are now in scoring position and with plenty of time left.
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