7 Key Points from Steelers @ Patriots

With game 1 in the bag, I thought I’d look at a few of the key factors that came together for an ‘eventful’ game, without breaking it down fully. So I loaded up the game on game pass to watch a 2nd time and these are the key points I noticed. Agree, disagree? Hit us up here.

Let’s look at game 1!

Gronk! In this game we saw a perfect storm of a defence not knowing what to do with potentially the most dominant tight end of all time. The plan was apparently to just jam Gronk on the line of scrimmage, to which I ask, “Keith Butler, did you watch any tape?” Gronk was handed some great opportunities and took full advantage of them, regularly being left open. The 1st touchdown saw him left wide open; the 2nd however was an attempted jam on the line from Will Allen, which failed miserably. It is sometimes forgotten just how good this guy is. Gronk should be talked about in the same breath as Watt and Rodgers as being one of the most dominant players to ever play the position.

Steelers Defence: Not a good look that goes hand in hand with the first point. Shy of a few individual plays from some of the more dynamic line-backers, this was a poorly managed game from the Steelers defence. It was in coverage the unit really struggled. In an interview during the week, Ryan Shazier talked about how they planned to “jam Gronk and focus on double teaming Edelman”. Edelman was targeted 12 times and caught 11 of them. So not only did they not stop Gronk, they also didn’t stop Edelman. In fact of 32 pass attempts by Brady, 25 hit their target. This unit needs to get their head in the game for next week. The biggest concern for me is simply that the defence simply didn’t seem to know what they were doing. Not a good look for a new defensive coordinator, especially against a team like the Patriots.

Missed Opportunities: As bad as the Steelers defence (and it was awful), the Steelers would have still been in the game if they’d have capitalised on just a few missed opportunities they’d have still been in the game. For starters the 2 missed field goals from 44 and 46 yards gave the Patriots decent field position, which they took full advantage of both times, converting missed field goals by the Steelers into touchdowns for the Patriots essentially creating a 20pt turn around for the Steelers. Then there was the Heyward-Bey catch in the end zone that should have been a TD but wasn’t thanks to a serious lack of awareness from the wide receiver, not noticing that he completely unnecessarily had a foot out of bounds. Finally the gadget play which saw Antonio Brown set up to make a pass felt completely unnecessary, especially when it means taking out of the play the Steelers top target. Really bad decision. Had the Steelers capitalised on these chances, the score line might have been very different.

No Bell, No Blount… No Problems: There was no doubt that the Pats missing Blount and probably more so, the Steelers missing Bell was always going to be a big deal, but their stand ins out performed anyone’s expectations. Dion Lewis hasn’t played a snap for 2 years and was widely considered to be a bust. In one game for the Patriots, he finds his feet and gains nearly as many yards as he has had previously in his entire career. Lewis looks like he’ll fit in as a Shane Vereen replacement, rather than an every down back. For the Steelers, DeAngelo Williams was up against it filling the rather large shoes of LeVeon Bell. Williams however excelled last night, running for 127 yards on 21 attempts, averaging out at a respectable 6 yards per carry. Both running backs should give the teams some confidence that when their starters come back, they’ve got some excellent backups.

Tom Brady: Not a great deal to say. Tom Brady looked like the best version of Tom Brady. Brady capitalised on the many mistakes made by the Steelers, seemingly effortlessly marching the team downfield with his usual regularity. Brady did a good job using Dion Lewis in the passing game, with catching the ball out of the backfield being a strength of his. If Brady can keep this pace up, we could see a very similar season to that of Peyton Manning a couple years ago.

Steelers Offensive Line: They looked pretty good. For run plays they seemed to recognise what Pouncey brings to the run game and for these occasions brought in Matt Spaeth as an extra tight end, who performed excellently. In passing plays they performed well too, at one point giving Ben 5 seconds in the pocket to make a play. A good performance despite having no Pouncey.

Antonio Brown: It will be forgotten because he’s on the losing team, but Brown played very well, making the odd catch that just didn’t possible. Brown provided a ‘welcome to the NFL’ performance for Malcolm Butler, who did well but still couldn’t keep up with Brown. My one issue however… Why is he returning punts? That seems a little foolhardy. Get Dri Archer in.

Faulty Headsets: I can’t talk about this for too long without rolling my eyes, but I’ve got to mention it. The Steelers claimed that they were picking up the Patriots play by play radio in their headsets, which meant they couldn’t use them. The rules of the NFL state that if one team’s headphones don’t work, then the other team can’t use them too. It was at this point that the headsets then started working. I’m going to simply provide my opinion. This isn’t the Pats cheating. It’s just one of those things. The headsets are provided by the NFL for both teams. These things just happen. There, hopefully I’ll never have to talk about this again.

A great start to the Season! Enjoy the bulk of it on Sunday!