Ten Takeaways as Patriots Take Down Steelers in Week 2

Typically known for his ability to pressure the quarterback, the Pats Pro Bowler made a fantastic “instinctual” play to force a Steelers punt in the fourth quarter. Judon sniffed out Steelers running back Najee Harris releasing on a wheel route, and jumped out of the rush to take Harris in man coverage. Judon’s coverage forced an incomplete pass, and Pittsburgh’s drive was cut short. Judon also added a nice chase-down sack of Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky earlier in the game. Once again, an all-around solid performance by the veteran.

7. Patriots Offensive Line Bounces Back With Improved Performance

Was the Patriots offensive line perfect in Sunday’s game? No, and it will never be flawless. Still, outside of a bad sequence of plays on a first-half drive and a few pre-snap penalties, this was a step in the right direction. The Steelers didn’t bring pressure as often as expected, which played a factor, but the pass protection wasn’t an issue sans one free runner at Mac in the aforementioned sequence. We’ll see how it looks on the film, but our live viewing saw plenty of clean pockets for the quarterback. The Pats were lucky that the officials only called two false starts, though.

8. Patriots Return to Power/Gap Running Game, Success on the Ground Follows

The Patriots had two good run-game plans to start the season, and attacking the Steelers 3-4 front with downhill running schemes and a sprinkle of zone runs was highly successful. New England closed out the game on the ground with a 50 percent success rate on their 24 rush attempts by running backs (78th percentile). The pulling guards returned and hit a nice clip on power, trap, and counter schemes. Plus, Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris ran the ball well with good patience behind their blockers. More power/gap, less zone. That formula has worked for this offense for 20-plus years and since the beginning of camp this season.

9. Pats WR Kendrick Bourne Plays 21 Snaps in Increased Role

After playing only two snaps in the opener, Bourne was on the field for 21 plays in the win over the Steelers and was open quite a bit. The Pats wideout made plays on in-breaking routes against man coverage and continued to create separation for quarterback Mac Jones.

In the post-game locker room, Bourne called last week “not a big deal” and said it was a “situational thing” more than anything. Bourne added that he doesn’t like that the story has become about him. The Patriots will take this Kendrick Bourne.

10. Patriots Suffer Three Notable Injuries on Defense

The only disappointing takeaway from the Patriots win was that three key players on defense 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 did spot Dugger in good spirits in the post-game locker room.

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