After all the early games had ended, all eyes were on the Sunday night battle between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots had completely transformed their offense over the offseason and the Steelers had gotten rid of all the negativity in their locker room from last season. People were interested because this was going to be a measuring stick game for both teams. The end result left a lot to be desired for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers.
The Patriots rolled over the Steelers and won the game 33-3. They looked sharp on both sides of the ball and out-classed Pittsburgh from the first whistle. Tom Brady looked anything but a 42 year old quarterback. He torched the Steelers’ defense for 341 yards, three touchdowns, and had a passer rating of 124.9. Josh Gordon was able to find the end zone after an impressive run after catch and Phillip Dorsett had his best game as a Patriot, finding the end zone twice. The run game looked solid, but once Brady and McDaniels figured out what Pittsburgh was doing defensively, they decided that they were going to win this game through the air.
Defensively, New England looked very sound. Their secondary were the unsung heroes of this game. They held Ben Roethlisberger to 276 yards on 27/27 throws and were able to get an interception. They played a nearly perfect game of football. They all have amazing closing speed on the ball, they communicate well, and play the down and distance which forced Pittsburgh to punt five times. The defensive line only sacked Big Ben once, but the Steelers could not get anything going offensively. James Conner was held to 21 yards on 10 carries. He was completely neutralized, and the Steelers often found themselves in third-and-long situations because of that.
Despite the score being so lopsided, New England does have a few things to worry about moving forward. Marcus Cannon suffered what looked like a left arm injury after having his legs taken out from under him and trying to brace for impact. This should be a concern for New England because the offensive line is a very thin position group. They only have two other tackles on the roster outside of Cannon, and both will be forced to play if Cannon has to miss time with the injury. Ted Karras, who stepped in at center and will be the starting center all season, struggled getting shotgun snaps to Brady last night. A lot of his snaps floated and took a long time to get to Brady which in turn can throw his timing off. He was able to manage last night, but after the game coaches brought the issue up to Ted Karras who vowed to fix the snaps. I believe he will improve as the season progresses, but something like that can have a major effect on the team’s game plan if it continues to be an issue.
All things considered, I give the Patriots an A- for their performance last night. It was a dominant win and both sides of the ball looked in sync, but there is always room for improvement. If Cannon’s injury was more of a scare than an actual serious injury, I am confident in this team’s chances of making another super bowl run. If Cannon has to miss an extended amount of time, the Patriots will need to beef up the offensive line, and will need to do it fast. Next week, the Patriots head to Miami who suffered an embarrassing loss at home to the Baltimore Ravens. They open up as 16 point favorites in that game, but it’s no secret that New England has struggled in that stadium. It was a great win in week one, but we’re onto Miami.