Eagles coach Doug Pederson faced a barrage of questions Monday about the audible Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger called Sunday that led to an easy touchdown pass to wide receiver Chase Claypool. Claypool ran away from linebacker Nate Gerry and was wide open for his fourth TD of the game, with 2 minutes and 59 seconds remaining, setting the 38-29 final score.
As Roethlisberger explained after the game, he saw the defense the Eagles were in and audibled out of the original play to one the Steelers hadn’t ever run in a game, a play that would isolate Claypool on Gerry. It was an obvious mismatch that became even more glaring when Gerry seemed to be caught flatfooted, stumbled getting started, and immediately fell several steps behind the rookie wideout.
Pederson eventually got exasperated at the questioning. Basically, it seems the only way the Eagles could have avoided the mismatch was to call timeout, down 31-29, and hoping to get the ball back for a winning touchdown drive that presumably would require timeouts.
“I didn’t want to burn a timeout in that situation,” Pederson said. He said the problem wasn’t so much Gerry or the defensive call, that it was “all about them making a play. ... It’s great execution by the Steelers. I don’t know what else to tell you guys.”
With the 4-1 Baltimore Ravens coming to the Linc this weekend, it might be more relevant that right tackle Lane Johnson is getting a second opinion on his ankle, Pederson said. Johnson missed the opener after undergoing “tightrope” surgery in August to stabilize a high ankle sprain while ligaments healed that hadn’t gotten better in the offseason, presumably because bones connecting them were not in alignment after the December 2019 injury.
This didn’t come up until Johnson started practicing in training camp. He had the surgery and returned for the second game, but has been in and out of the lineup the past few weeks. He said he had a cyst drained last Monday. Johnson left Sunday’s loss on a cart after playing 39 snaps, replaced by rookie Jack Driscoll, who played 27. The offensive line that finished the game comprised Jason Kelce and four backups.
Pederson said corner Darius Slay, who left the game in the fourth quarter, is in the NFL concussion protocol.
Pederson also empathized with the Dallas Cowboys over the loss of quarterback Dak Prescott to an apparent compound ankle fracture. “They’ll rally behind Andy Dalton just like we did with Nick Foles” in 2017 and 2018, Pederson said.