The New England Patriots didn’t beat the Pittsburgh Steelers up in Foxboro last night. The Steelers beat themselves. They couldn’t capitalize on the 127 rushing yards by a revitalized DeAngelo Williams and 133 receiving yards by the mercurial Antonio Brown. Adding to their woes were 2 missed field goals by Josh Scobee. My good friend Warren Sharp commented that due to Scobee’s dismal performance, “Ravens futures just went up.” It was an astute observation given the fact that most Ravens/Steelers games come down to 3 points or less. The Ravens are in much better shape with Justin Tucker, who’s arguably the best kicker in the league.
Pittsburgh also couldn’t cash in when they had a first and goal on the one yard line. Combined with Ben Roethlisberger’s interception plus Scobee’s two missed field goals, all of these factors proved to be the differences in the game.
Steelers’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley contributed to the loss. On Pittsburgh’s opening drive, he decided to “get cute” and called for an end around pass-play by Antonio Brown. Fortunately for the Steelers, Brown took a sack versus heaving the ball up for grabs. The Steelers had momentum on that drive, with Roethlisberger methodically picking apart the Patriots’ weak secondary, and Williams running over and around their defense. That call was a momentum killer.
Tom Brady picked apart Pittsburgh’s secondary, throwing for 4 touchdowns – 3 of them to TE Rob Gronkowski. He was nearly unstoppable, as the Steelers did not have an answer for him.
Both team’s offensive line’s got the best of the other’s defensive lines, as both QBs had ample time to go through their progressions and complete passes. The Patriots linebackers did not stand out as a group, and the only Steeler linebacker that flashed was Ryan Shazier. Both secondaries were by and large weak. The Patriots picked off Roethlisberger on a very poorly thrown deep ball.
It’s only one game but the Ravens have to be encouraged by what they saw last night. Both teams are definitely beatable, and the Steelers are now 0-1. Plus the Steelers kicking game is off to a very rough start, to say the least. The Ravens should able to run and pass at will on both. They will definitely stop the run against the Patriots, and DeAngelo Williams will not get 127 yards on the Ravens defense. On the other hand, Le’Veon Bell can drop 200 rushing and 75 receiving on any defense, on any given night.
I twitted out prior to the start of the game that Bell’s absence would hurt the Steelers – and it did. They are a dramatically different team without him, and it was reflected in the game as well as the final score. A play here, a play there, and last night’s outcome could have been different, but that’s the NFL. I’m glad the Patriots won as – divisionally speaking – it helped the Ravens. I’m also glad that the NFL is back! It’s going to be a great season!