Ben Roethlisberger basically told the Eagles what the Steelers were going to do to them on the final touchdown on Sunday.
And the Eagles still couldn’t stop it.
On that 3rd-and-8 that went a 35-yard touchdown to rookie Chase Claypool, Roethlisberger checked to a play he knew would beat the Eagles’ quarters zone coverage. He made the check out loud right in front of the Eagles’ defense.
“The last touchdown, I also have never been in that spot,” Claypool said after the game. “It’s usually (tight end Eric) Ebron so I actually had to ask him what I was doing because I had one thing in mind and I wanted to make sure that was the right thing because that was a crucial point in the game.
“And he just told me, and he kind of told the whole defense, which was my fault. But it worked out."
That put the game out of reach for the Eagles.
On the replay of that crucial play, you can see Roethlisberger telling his receivers which routes to run. It looks like Nickell Robey-Coleman noticed the check and tried to warn Nate Gerry what was coming, but by then it was too late.
Check out this breakdown from former Eagle Emmanuel Acho:
Later on Twitter, Acho was asked what would have happened if Malcolm Jenkins was still on the team. Acho said Jenkins might have had the power to check to a different play but Gerry “doesn’t have that pull.” So the Eagles were left with their struggling linebacker against a dynamic receiver in his breakout game.
After the game, safety Rodney McLeod said the Eagles were in man coverage on the two plays before that final touchdown and switched to zone for third down. He also admitted it wasn’t ideal to have Gerry in coverage on a receiver who already had three touchdowns in the game.
It’s worth noting that the Eagles had a couple timeouts left at that point in the game. But they were down and were probably thinking that they’d need them if they got a chance to get the ball back and score.
“If you really look at that play, go back and look at it,” Doug Pederson said on the WIP Morning Show. “Look at what Ben Roethlisberger did. He recognized the defense. He did something and you see him communicating with Claypool. I sometimes you have to give credit where credit’s due. They made a play in that situation.”