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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ben Roethlisberger Getting Sharp, But Eagles Top Steelers 16-7

Akers, Eagles defeat Steelers 16-7

NFL.com wire reports

PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 25, 2006) -- David Akers ' transition to a new holder is going well.

Akers kicked field goals of 40, 49 and 52 yards to help make Donovan McNabb's brief appearance a productive one, and Jeff Garcia connected with Greg Lewis on a 61-yard touchdown pass to lead the Philadelphia Eagles over the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-7.

McNabb led the Eagles to a pair of field goals before going to the bench. Meanwhile, the Steelers didn't get any points during the two series Ben Roethlisberger played. Charlie Batch threw a 23-yard TD pass to Cedric Wilson for Pittsburgh's only score. Kicker Jeff Reed missed field goals of 50 and 47 yards.

Akers made all three of his kicks with punter Dirk Johnson holding. For years, backup quarterback Koy Detmer held for Akers. However, Detmer figures to be the No. 3 quarterback behind McNabb and Garcia, so he likely will be inactive on game days.

"The 52-yarder was the best operation so far between me and Dirk, the most rhythmic," Akers said. "I'm going to learn from him and he's going to learn from me. We'll be good either way."

Roethlisberger finished 9-of-14 for 52 yards and one interception. McNabb was 7-of-9 for 79 yards, though he was sacked three times.

Kicker David Akers and holder Dirk Johnson are gelling at the right time.
The Eagles took a 9-7 halftime lead after Garcia drove the offense 35 yards on six plays in 38 seconds to set up Akers' 52-yarder just before the second quarter ended. Garcia completed passes of 15 and 18 yards to Reggie Brown on the drive.

Garcia's TD pass to Lewis put the Eagles ahead 16-7 in the third quarter. Lewis, fighting for one of the final wideout spots on Philadelphia's roster, beat cornerback Ricardo Colclough on a deep middle route, caught Garcia's pass in stride and streaked into the end zone. Lewis had his first two catches of the preseason for 91 yards.

"It was good to be able to do something positive," Lewis said.

The Steelers, 0-3 for the first time since going 0-4 in the 1987 preseason, remember that their starters didn't score a touchdown on offense last preseason -- but the team went on to win the franchise's first Super Bowl in 26 years.

Roethlisberger, whose June 12 motorcycle accident left him with a broken jaw, broken nose and a concussion, played two series in the first two games, leading the offense on one drive that ended in a missed field goal and one touchdown while mostly using a no-huddle.

Roethlisberger didn't speak to reporters, but coach Bill Cowher said he's pleased with his quarterback.

"I like where he's at," Cowher said. "I like his mindset. I like the way he's operating the offense and I like where he's at -- not just in games, but in practices."

McNabb, who missed the final seven games last year following surgery for a sports hernia, has played well for the Eagles. He's led the offense to two touchdowns, four field goals and 26 points on nine drives. Overall, McNabb is 23-of-31 for 283 yards, one TD and no interceptions in four games.

"If you look back to last year, we had about 19 or 22 guys injured. You just can't win any sport like that," McNabb said. "All of us are healthy. All of us are playing well together."

Roethlisberger looked sharp while driving the Steelers to the Eagles 35 on the opening drive. But he took an intentional grounding penalty, was sacked by Darren Howard on the next play, and his pass was picked off by Brian Dawkins on third-and-38.

The Eagles' first drive almost ended when Ike Taylor stepped in front of McNabb's pass to Brown and appeared to make an interception, but the play was overturned after Philadelphia challenged just before the Steelers' offense snapped the ball.

Akers then kicked a 40-yarder for a 3-0 lead, and hit one from 49 yards out on the next drive.

Eagles wideout Todd Pinkston, who missed all of last season after tearing his right Achilles tendon in training camp, played in his first game since the Super Bowl 18 1/2 months ago. He had one catch for 4 yards.

Philadelphia running back Correll Buckhalter, who has missed three of the last four seasons with knee injuries, looked strong in his second game. Buckhalter ran for 31 yards on seven carries and had four catches for 16 yards.


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