"For them to go down and get that field goal was a little disappointing."
A year ago at this time, you expected the Eagles' defense to blow fourth-quarter leads because, well, they did it with regularity. Blew an NFL-record five fourth-quarter leads in their first nine games before everybody finally figured out which way was up.
This year, though, it has been different. This is a defense that has exuded confidence. This is a defense that has held three of its first five opponents, including the Steelers, to 17 points or less.
This is a defense that held Roethlisberger to a .568 completion percentage, a puny 5.6 yards per attempt and no touchdown passes. This is a defense that held him 27 points under his season passer rating.
But just as Michael Vick has frequently stunk up the joint for the better part of four quarters only to find his groove late in the game, so did Big Ben on Sunday, leading the Steelers on a 14-play, 64-yard, 6 1/2-minute march that ended with a 34-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham with no time left to give the Steelers a 16-14 win.
Twenty minutes after the game, Castillo still was sitting in a folding chair in his game clothes, the loss and the failed defensive stand burning a hole in his belly.
"We've done it before," he said of the defense's ability to protect leads. "We just didn't do it today."
The Eagles, who had trailed most of the game, took a 14-13 lead with 6:33 left when Vick hit tight end Brent Celek with a 2-yard touchdown pass to cap an impressive 17-play, 79-yard drive that ate more than 8 minutes off the clock.
But they still had to stop Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offense one more time, and they couldn't quite get it done.
Roethlisberger, who was 17-for-32 to that point, completed four of five passes for 50 yards on the Steelers' game-winning drive, including a 20-yarder to wide receiver Antonio Brown on a critical third-and-12 with 4 1/2 minutes left, a 15-yard screen pass to running back Rashard Mendenhall on a second-and-7, and a 7-yard completion to slot receiver Emmanuel Sanders on a third-and-7 at the Philadelphia 38.
In the Eagles' first four games, they had allowed opponents to convert just three of 22 third downs of 9 yards or more. Before the completion to Brown, the Steelers had been 0-for-3 on third-and-long against the Eagles.
The Eagles' pass rush had done a good job most of the game of preventing Roethlisberger from extending plays. But on the third-and-12, he was able to step up and avoid an outside rush by defensive end Jason Babin and hit Brown over the middle in the vicinity of the man Brown had called "candy bar" earlier in the week, rookie corner Brandon Boykin.
"We ran that play earlier in the game, and I ended up hitting [tight end] Heath [Miller] out of the backfield because they got a little bit of pressure and I didn't have time [to get it to Brown]," Roethlisberger said.
"I saw Antonio was open in the first quarter when we ran it. So [when] we came back to it. 'Same coverage, same route, maybe I can get him.' The offensive line did a good job of pushing the defense around me. I stepped up and A.B. just made a play."
The Eagles were in a zone coverage on the play. Boykin said Brown found a seam in the zone.
"They're going to catch balls," said Boykin. "When somebody catches a ball, it isn't necessarily somebody's fault. It's a collective effort. Everybody's got to do their job.
"When we're out there, we've got to stop them. That's our job. That's what we're supposed to do. It didn't happen. But we all stick together.
"We have each other's back. It's early in the season. We know we have the potential to be a great team."
The Eagles were in a man coverage five plays later, with Boykin on Sanders, when Sanders picked up a first down on third-and-4 to move the Steelers into field-goal position.
"He ran an out route," Boykin said. "He was open and made the play."
From there, the Steelers kept it on the ground, picking up another first down on back-to-back runs by Mendenhall and then chewing up the clock before bringing out Suisham to kick the game-winning field goal.
"It was a good call," Asomugha said of the zone coverage the Eagles were in on the third-and-12 pass to Brown. "It just wasn't executed the way it needed to be executed. Third-and-long, we've been doing pretty well with those. We had success with it most of the game."
Said Castillo: "That's a coverage that had gotten them off the field [earlier]. We're pretty good with that. But Ben scrambled a little bit and made a play. Ben's good at extending plays. It doesn't matter who the DBs are."
Said Coleman: "It's not the end of our season. We've just got to go back and watch the film and get better. We held them to 16 points. We did a lot of good things against them. They were able to just make one more play than we were."
"We've been in this situation a few times and we've been able to have success with it," Asomugha said. "Anytime you don't have success, it stays with you and you remember it. Them driving on that last drive obviously is going to be something we're going to remember. Obviously, it's something we can't let happen again."
Contact Paul Domowitch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Pdomo. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' blog at eagletarian.com.