NFL News & Analysis

NFL Preseason Week 1 Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Philadelphia Eagles 16

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) carries the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers extend their 2021 preseason record to 2-0 with a 24-16 win over in-state competitor Philadelphia Eagles. And that, of course, means the first over of the 2021 NFL preseason has hit!

Plenty of rookies and other unproven veterans got their opportunity to showcase their talent tonight. Here are the key things you need to know.

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Harris to be force-fed?Najee Harris logged five snaps on the Steelers’ first drive of the game. And to no surprise, he was the featured player on the field on those reps, seeing two carries and two targets. The former Bama back may have mistimed a hurdle attempt, but he did shed a couple of tackles on the night, something he failed to do in the Hall of Fame Game. The closer we get to the season, the clearer it gets that Pittsburgh is obsessed with its first-round pick. 

Quez Szn?Quez Watkins was known for his lightning-quick speed coming out of Southern Miss in 2020. He clocked a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, the third-best regardless of position in his class. The sixth-round pick saw some action down the stretch of his rookie campaign and flashed the after-the-catch ability on screens. Tonight, he flashed again as he took a screen 79 yards to the house. Watkins still has to show he’s more than just a “speed guy,” but he could eventually carve out a nice role within this depleted receiving unit.

High-and-Low Night from Green — In college, Kendrick Green established himself as one of the country's most explosive and impactful run-blocking interior linemen. Tonight, he came up with a couple of blocks that reminded us of his days with the Illini. It wasn't all good, though, as the Steelers center had a “welcome to the NFL” moment when journeyman T.Y. McGill walked him back like it was nothing, right into a sack. 

Philly Rookies Sparkled Milton Williams established himself as one of the 2021 NFL Draft’s athletic freaks thanks to an unreal pro-day performance. The third-round pick showed off his explosiveness and power this evening with a won rep as a pass-rusher. Meanwhile, sixth-round rookie Tarron Jackson made a couple of impact plays. He forced quarterback Dwayne Haskins out of the pocket into a third-down incompletion with an inside spin move. Jackson then shed a block in the run game with ease and came up with a tackle for loss.

Efficient Night from Dwayne Haskins — The 2019 first-round pick comes to Pittsburgh with the hope of reviving his NFL career. While he went up against backups, Haskins did his part on the field for the Steelers tonight, leading an ultra-efficient passing offense that generated 0.57 expected points added (EPA) per pass play. Haskins completed 16-of-21 clean-pocket passes for 161 yards and one score. There weren’t many high-level plays made, but there weren’t many glaring mistakes, either.

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