10 takeaways as Patriots knock out Steelers in Week 2
Generally known for his ability to pressure the quarterback, the Pats Pro Bowler made a fantastic “instinctive” play to force a Steelers punt in the fourth quarter. Judon sniffed out Steelers running back Najee Harris on a wheel road and jumped from the rush to take Harris into men’s coverage. Judon’s coverage forced an incomplete pass and Pittsburgh’s drive was cut short. Judon also added a nice chase sack from Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky earlier in the game. Again, a strong all-round performance from the veteran.
7. Patriots offensive line rebounds with improved performance
Was the Patriots offensive line perfect in Sunday’s game? No, and it will never be perfect. Still, apart from a bad streak of plays in first-half training and a few penalties before the break, it was a step in the right direction. The Steelers didn’t press as often as expected, which played a part, but pass protection wasn’t an issue without a free runner at Mac in the aforementioned streak. We’ll see what that looks like on film, but our live viewing saw plenty of clean pockets for the quarterback. The Pats were lucky officials called only two false starts.
8. Patriots Return to Power/Gap Running Game, on-field success follows
The Patriots had two good running plans to start the season, and attacking the Steelers 3-4 front with downhill running patterns and a sprinkle of zone runs was very successful. New England closed the game on the ground with a 50% success rate on their 24 running attempts by running backs (78th percentile). The shooting guards came back and hit a nice clip on the power, trap, and counter patterns. Also, Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris handled the ball well with good patience behind their blockers. More power/spread, less area. This formula has worked for this offense for over 20 years and since the start of camp this season.
9. Pats WR Kendrick Bourne plays 21 snaps in an expanded role
After playing just two snaps in Game 1, Bourne was on the court for 21 plays in the win over the Steelers and was pretty open. The Pats made plays on breaking routes against men’s coverage and continued to create separation for quarterback Mac Jones.
In the post-game locker room, Bourne last week called “it’s no big deal” and said it was more of a “situational thing” than anything. Bourne added that he didn’t like the story about him. The Patriots will take this Kendrick Bourne.
10. Patriots suffer three notable injuries in defense
The only disappointing takeaway from the Patriots’ win is that three key defense players were injured during the game. Patriots DT Davon Godchaux (back), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (back) and safety Kyle Dugger (knee) left the game due to injury. We spotted Dugger in high spirits in the post-game locker room.