2011 Record: 12-4
Overall Series Record: 47-27-3
Record at Heinz Field: 0-1
Last Meeting: September 21, 2008 – Eagles 15, Steelers 6
Game Recap: Correll Buckhalter's 20-yard touchdown reception proved decisive as the defense shut down the Steelers to the tune of 147 total yards. The lasting image came in the fourth quarter when the Eagles forced a safety as Ben Roethlisberger was called for intentional grounding in the end zone in the face of a fierce pass rush.
Key Offseason Moves
In: G David DeCastro, T Mike Adams, TE Leonard Pope, WR Mike Wallace
Out: LB James Farrior, DE Aaron Smith, G Chris Kemoeatu, WR Hines Ward, CB William Gay
The always interesting battleground game for Pennsylvania supremacy takes place this year in Pittsburgh on October 7. The last time these two teams met in the regular season, the Eagles defense did a number on the Steelers offense and gave Eagles fans bragging rights over their west-coast brethren. Of course, the Steelers finished that season as Super Bowl champions, so they got the last laugh.
This time around, it will be an early season litmus test sandwiched between two important NFC home games for the Eagles. As is their usual nature, the Steelers have been relatively quiet this offseason, with their tight cap space limiting them to cutting ties with some stalwarts, adding some promising talent in the NFL Draft and keeping standout wide receiver Mike Wallace.
A restricted free agent, Wallace received curiously little interest, because signing him would have, in addition to a new contract, require the forfeiture of a first-round pick. But Wallace is back in Black & Gold and will surely pose a threat to the Eagles defense after his scorching 2011 campaign of 1,193 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. And don't sleep on the emerging Antonio Brown, who quietly had 1,108 yards receiving himself and was voted by his teammates as the team's Most Valuable Player.
For their part, despite their 12-4 record and playoff appearance, the Steelers are coming off a bitterly disappointing end to their 2011 campaign. Their season ended, of course, on a walkoff 80-yard touchdown connection from Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas in the opening round of the playoffs. With little to no imported upgrades, the Steelers will look to continue their consistent success in the regular season. Consider that in each of Mike Tomlin's first five seasons as Steelers head coach, the team has gone 6-2 in their first eight games. Here's hoping that one of those two losses this year comes to the Eagles like it did in 2008.
The outside additions for the Steelers mostly came through April's NFL Draft, where they added two players in the first two rounds who are expected to start on the offensive line. First, highly rated Stanford guard David DeCastro fell to them with the 24th overall pick. Then, they selected Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams in the second round. DeCastro and Adams could be starting at right guard and left tackle respectively come this early October showdown; good news for an offense that ranked 23rd in sacks allowed per pass attempt in 2011.
Defensively, the Steelers were outstanding in 2011, leading the league in total defense, points allowed per game and in passing defense. Early season matchups with the Ravens, Giants and Steelers are sure to provide the explosive Eagles offense with a measuring stick, though rest assured that Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and crew won't be backing down from anyone.