Steelers defeat Eagles 31-14 in NFL Preseason opener

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 09: Eagles TE Dallas Goedert (88) is upended by Steelers Safety Nat Berhe (31) on a reception during the NFL Preseason game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA — The stars stayed on the sidelines for the most part, but the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers opened the NFL Preseason with an exhibition game Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Steelers, riding solid efforts from backup quarterbacks Landry Jones and Josh Dobbs, who each threw a touchdown pass, rolled to a 31-14 victory.

The game’s biggest storyline might have happened before the opening kickoff, as Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins demonstrated during the National Anthem by raising his fist, while teammate Chris Long again put his arm around Jenkins’ shoulder in a show of solidarity.

Jenkins had stopped demonstrating during the anthem late last season, but resumed the protest after the National Anthem controversy spilled into this past offseason, thanks in part to President Donald Trump’s tweeting and the league’s attempt to make new rules curtailing player demonstrations.

“Everybody is waiting for what the league is going to do,” Jenkins told the Associated Press. “We won’t let it stop what we stand for. I was very encouraged last year with the direction and that obviously took a different turn.

“I think it’s important to utilize the platform as we can because for whatever reason, we have framed this demonstration in a negative light and often players have to defend why we feel the need to fight for everyday Americans and in actuality we’re doing the right thing.”

The NFL initially ordered everyone to either stand on the sideline while the Anthem was played, or remain in the locker room. That policy was rescinded after the NFL Players Union balked. Now the league and the union are attempting to reach a compromise.

In on-the-field news, the Eagles rested quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Nick Foles and several other starters on both sides of the ball. Third-string QB Nate Sudfeld threw a 63-yard TD pass to Shelton Gibson and a 15-yard TD strike to rookie tight end Dallas Goedert, but also threw two interceptions. Sudfeld went 10-for-14 for 140 yards before giving way to fourth-stringer Joe Callahan in the second half.

Goedert, a second-round pick, had four catches for 66 yards and one TD. Starting tight end Zach Ertz did not play.

The Steelers played without QB Ben Roethlisberger and top receiver Antonio Brown, while running back Le’Veon Bell missed the game as his contract holdout continued.

Jones went 4-for-4 for 83 yards, including a 71-yard TD bomb to JuJu Smith-Schuster. It was the first of two touchdowns allowed by Eagles cornerback Rasoul Douglas, who had a rough outing.

Dobbs hit Damoun Patterson with a 29-yard TD pass in the second quarter.

Rookie Mason Rudolph, the Steelers’ third -round pick, went 7-of-12 for 101 yards in his first NFL action.