Any time you start a season, there’s always a ton of excitement. When you get to unveil your sixth Super Bowl banner against the only other franchise with six Super Bowl wins, excitement doesn’t quite do it justice. Then, hanging 33 points on them makes it a great night. But the story of the games wasn’t about the points the New England Patriots scored, it’s about the points the Pittsburgh Steelers did not score.
We talked about it all summer. We said that the secondary was going to be one of the best in the league. We said that the front seven was insanely deep. We said that the defense was going to be hard to score on. But talking about it and actually seeing it in action are two very different things. The Patriots shut down the Steelers all night long. They weren’t able to run, pass, or convert third downs.
There wasn’t much pass rush on Roethlisberger, but it didn’t matter. The Steelers receivers weren’t open. Ben Roethlisberger could have had five minutes to throw and they may not have been open. Stephon Gilmore locked down JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jonathan Jones had a fantastic game, and J.C. Jackson played so well I don’t think I heard his name all night. Devin McCourty had a late pick in the end zone, and Jason McCourty played great too, except for one play when he thought Harmon was going to be able to make a play on a deep pass.
Then there’s the front seven. The Steelers had just 32 rushing yards in the game. Now, they only ran it 13 times, and maybe part of that was because the Patriots were leading most of the game, but holding them to 32 rushing yards is still fantastic.
The Steelers’ first red zone opportunity is the perfect example for what New England’s defense did to the Steelers tonight. The visitors had a 3rd and goal from the 1-yard line down 20 in the third quarter. They passed incomplete on third down and then kicked a field goal. That’s losing football, plain and simple. The Patriots simply took away the Steelers’ will to win.
It’s tough to have a better opening night than the one the Patriots had last night. They dominated on both sides of the ball, but by shutting down a pretty good Steelers offense, they sent a message to the league that the defense is going to be one of the best in the NFL, and that makes this team really scary.
Some other miscellaneous takeaways:
- I freaking love Chase Winovich. Not only does he never quit, but neither does his mouth. Opposing teams are going to hate this guy, and I’m going to love every second of it.
- Josh Gordon is not human. He flashed amazing balance and strength on the touchdown catch, and the catch down the middle where he got crushed as the ball arrived was ridiculous.
- Once Antonio Brown gets here, this receiving corps is going to be one of the best in the league.
- Don’t forget preseason darlings Jakobi Meyers making a tough catch, and Gunner Olszewski having a few solid punt returns.
- Isaiah Wynn looked fantastic at left tackle. Let’s hope that Marcus Cannon’s shoulder is ok, but the offensive line was solid, even though the shotgun snaps did float back to Brady pretty consistently.
Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast
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