If anybody could relate to the ashen looks on the faces of the Dallas Cowboys' coaches and players Sunday while an air cast was applied to quarterback Dak Prescott’s compound ankle fracture and dislocation, it was Eagles coach Doug Pederson.
Pederson remembers what it was like coping with season-ending injuries to Carson Wentz in 2017 (knee) and 2018 (back). The injuries themselves were less dramatic, there was no circle of praying players, or an injury cart on the field, but the aftermath was much like what Dallas faced Monday, following surgery that presumably ended the season of a quarterback who was off to a prolific start.
“My heart goes out to Dak, and obviously, his family,” Pederson said Monday. “You never want to see ... anybody in the league suffer these types of injuries. We know that this game is hard enough. ... It’s terrible.”
Pederson said he expects the 2-3 Cowboys to react as the Eagles did when Wentz went down.
“They will rally and be behind [backup Andy] Dalton, and go get him prepared and ready to go, just like we did with Nick Foles,” he said.
Prescott has thrown for an amazing 1,856 yards in five games, completing 68% of his passes, with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He was playing under the franchise tag this year, so he might head into free agency while rehabbing the injury. It normally requires a four-to-six-month recovery period.
Developing story lines
Little things that lead to big things: Opening series of the second half, Steelers third-and-5, Cre’Von LeBlanc was right there and had a clear shot at Eric Ebron, as Ebron caught a pass at the line. LeBlanc overran his target and missed an arm-tackling attempt. Ebron converted the first down. The next play, which should have been a punt, instead was wideout Ray-Ray McCloud’s 58-yard run that set up Chase Claypool’s third touchdown.
Darius Slay, the Eagles’ top cornerback, left Sunday’s game after tackling James Conner in the fourth quarter. Doug Pederson said Slay is in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Carson Wentz compiled minus-3 net passing yards through the first 19 minutes of Sunday’s game, then he discovered Travis Fulgham (10 catches, 152 yards). Wentz finished with 224 net passing yards, 258 gross.
Yes, Ben Roethlisberger got the ball out quickly, but it’s still disappointing that the Eagles' pass rush managed only one sack, that coming on the first series, especially with Steelers right guard David DeCastro leaving the game in the first half with an abdominal injury.
The first crowd the Eagles have played in front of this season contained at least a smattering of Eagles fans, among the 4,708 people spread around Heinz Field. Crowd noise really didn’t amount to much. The Eagles are hoping to hear Tuesday from the city about hosting fans at the Linc this weekend against Baltimore.
Jalen Mills played well in his return to cornerback last week at San Francisco, but Roethlisberger knew how to exploit Mills better than Nick Mullens did, it turned out.
That giving up points on five successive Pittsburgh possessions would turn out to be problematic?
The longest passing gain of the day by either team was that 37-yard Carson Wentz heave to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside just before the half, when the Eagles didn’t have any timeouts left and couldn’t get lined up to spike the ball before the clock ran out. It wasn’t Arcega-Whiteside’s fault — John Hightower needed to get out of bounds on a catch earlier in the drive and didn’t — but it also was incredibly on brand for Arcega-Whiteside, the Eagles’ much-lamented 2019 second-round draft pick. This was the only time Arcega-Whiteside was targeted in the eight snaps he played.