NFL News Update
The Pittsburgh Steelers laid a long, methodical beating on the down-trodden Houston Texans and got the reward they sought – a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. The Philadelphia Eagles (at least offensively) stumbled around like overserved bar patrons but somehow managed to slip past the Oakland Raiders and secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC bracket in the second half of the NFL’s Christmas Day doubleheader.
Pittsburgh’s 34-6 win was a foregone conclusion at halftime. A couple of Houston turnovers led to a 20-0 lead at halftime. The Steelers sacked a pair of Houston quarterbacks seven times, three by defensive back Mike Nelson.
The Eagles couldn’t generate a thing in the second half, as the football bounced repeatedly off the hands of receivers. But a late, long field goal by Jake Elliott after an interception produced a victory inflated to 19-10 by a fumble return for a score on the final play.
If you’re a Steelers fan, you are nothing but encouraged. They just keep handling their business. They’re 12-3, 7-1 on the road. If you’re an Eagles fan, you’re more than little worried how this offense will fare with Nick Foles at quarterback for the injured Carson Wentz.
Foles was 19 of 38 for 163 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His passer rating: 59.4. Uh-uh. Not good enough at home against a Raiders team that is now 6-9.
The Eagles (13-2) don’t have to worry much about their season-ender against the Dallas Cowboys (8-7), who are out of playoff contention. Resting starters could be a good idea. And then the Eagles have two additional weeks to get Foles more in sync.
No point lavishing too much praise on Pittsburgh for beating the stripped-down Texans (4-11), who have lost five straight. But the focus they brought on the road and their ferocity speak of a team ready to do some damage in the playoffs.
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