Patriots 33, Steelers 3: 10 quick thoughts on dominating win

Ryan Hannable
September 08, 2019 - 11:21 pm

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots kicked off the 2019 season in style, and they weren’t even working with their full complement of players.

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New England dominated the Steelers, 33-3, on Sunday Night Football and it was without Demaryius Thomas (hamstring), Kyle Van Noy (birth of baby), and Antonio Brown (not officially on roster).

They led 20-0 at the half and never looked back.

Here are 10 quick observations.

1. The story of this one was the Patriots defense, which absolutely dominated the Steelers offense. Even without Brown, Pittsburgh's offense is one of the best in the NFL. It finished with just three points, was 3-for-12 on third down and only had 32 rushing yards. For Pittsburgh, it tied its fewest points scored since Sept. 25, 2016 when it also scored three points. This seems to be a sign of things to come for the unit, which won’t face another great offense for weeks.

2. Tom Brady picked apart the Steelers defense, finishing 24-for-36 passing with 341 yards and three touchdowns. To be honest, it wasn’t a vintage performance by any means, as the 42-year-old missed a good amount of throws in the first half, and didn’t appear to be on the same page as Julian Edelman for most of the night. It's pretty scary what will happen when they are.

3. Josh McDaniels threw a lot of different formations at the Steelers and used almost his entire offensive personnel. This included a number of misdirection plays that gained easy yards at times. One of the signature plays was a double pass, which had Julian Edelman find James White with a number of blockers ahead of him for 30 yards in the opening quarter. It seems like this was just the beginning for McDaniels and his creativity this season.

4. Stephon Gilmore shadowed JuJu Smith-Schuster virtually the entire game and did a nice job limited the wide out to six catches for 78 yards. With the exception of a 45-yard catch allowed by Jason McCourty to James Washington, all of New England’s cornerbacks played well. A number of them played, as there were some sets that had six and seven defensive backs on the field.

5. Phillip Dorsett had the best game of his NFL career, finishing with four catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. It was his first career multiple touchdown game. Also, dating back to last season he’s caught the last 20 passes thrown his way in the regular season.

6. Dont’a Hightower had a monster game on defense and was active from the start. The linebacker finished with six tackles, but that wasn't a true indication of just how good he was, especially in the first half. He may have had a more expansive role with Van Noy missing the game due to his wife being in labor.

7. Marcus Cannon suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter. The right tackle was in obvious pain on the field and then he threw his helmet in frustration upon reaching the sideline and going into the blue medical tent. Joe Thuney slid over to right tackle to end the game, but that doesn't seem to be the best option if Cannon is out for multiple weeks.

8. Perhaps the biggest problem of the game was center Ted Karras’ shotgun snaps floating a bit before getting to Brady. Yes, this says how the game went that this was considered the biggest issue. It didn’t really impact things, but perhaps could at some point relating to timing.

9. As for who called the defensive plays? It was pretty clear it was Jerod Mayo. While all the defensive coaches were on the headsets, Mayo was the only coach to have a play sheet. It seems his continuing the aggressive style from last season. 

10. The Patriots will travel to Miami next weekend and it will be Brown’s highly anticipated debut. The line has opened at 14.5, which honestly feels very low. This game has the chance to be a bloodbath, but it’s worth noting Bill Belichick may not run up the score on Flores, a former assistant.

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