The New England Patriots Earned the winning column for the first time this season by defeating Pittsburgh Steelers 17-14 on Sunday. Throughout the game, here’s who stood out, and who didn’t, for the Patriots.
Loser: QB Mac Jones. It wasn’t bad for Jones on Sunday, but his sophomore decision-making in the middle was once again shaky. The results were interceptions and dropped ones, while Jones also missed some chances elsewhere.
In the first interception, Jones called out a prayer to DeVante Parker despite a high-security appearance in Pittsburgh. In the process, Jones missed Jacoby Myers open to a third potential negative diversion. Jones also missed Myers later in the apartment open game for an easy turn, instead forcing Juno Smith not to complete. He also had Lil’Jordan Humphrey open the field earlier in the competition but failed to see him.
As he works through offensive changes with new coaches, Jones’ decline on the field in two weeks could become worrisome.
Winner: WR Jakobi Meyers. Speaking of Myers, it was an impressive day for Jones’ man. Myers led New England’s pass catchers in goals (13) and receptions (9) for the second week in a row, while 95 yards represented the fourth-highest total of his career. It was just another day in the office for “Mr. Clutch,” as Damien Harris-Myers nicknamed after the match.
Winner: WR Nelson Agulor. Sticking to wide receivers, Agholor was perhaps best played in a Patriot outfit, breaking the 100-yard mark for his first in New England. The highlight of the day came at a 44-yard touchdown reception when the Patriots desperately needed a big play.
Agholor was able to hit the ball high and keep his balance on the way to the end zone. He finished with six receptions for 110 yards and that’s the result.
The Losers: T. E. Juno Smith and Hunter Henry. The no-show was a tight duo of the Patriots on Sunday, with neither Smith nor Henry scoring any of their four goals combined. The duo also saw less time on the field together as the Patriots relied on their 11-man pack rather than the two narrow-ended groups they used extensively in the first week.
Winner: offensive line. It wasn’t a perfect day for New England’s offensive line as it was a handful of penalty shootouts and one poor set of play in the first half. But, Mac Jones had significant time in his pocket and was not fired once. The unit also opened up some qualitative loopholes in the running game as it put the clocks back into the gap/energy system, helping them set the time in the game grab campaign.
“The offensive line played amazing, didn’t really get hurt,” Mac Jones He said. “Hats off to them. Playing the game, passing the game, they made it work. That’s something I was really proud of.”
It’s interesting to note that the unit’s strong gameplay came with a change of tactics from the coaching staff. Assistant offensive line coach Billy Yates was on the sidelines throughout the game after spending the first half of matches in the booth throughout pre-season and into Week 1. Whether or not the change contributed to the performance, it was a noteworthy switch.
Also, rookie Cole Strange’s play against Cameron Hayward was impressive.
Winner: LB Matthew Goodon. Godon scored a cleaning sack near the end of the first half, but his best play of the day came in passing coverage. Guarding the dynamic second year in a row back Nagy Harris from the back on the road of a wheel, Godon stuck with him and managed to force a non-completion. It would be best for the Patriots to let Godon do what he does best as a rushing pass forward, but he made the play when it mattered on Sunday.
Honor mentions: While the offensive line opened up some quality holes throughout the day, both Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris ran hard, averaging just under 5.0 yards per carry.
Linebacker Mack Wilson Sr. put on an impressive pass coverage display, reading Mitchell Trubesky’s eyes and making a pass in the air that Jalen Mills was able to intercept.
Gabriel Peppers hasn’t played a major role in defense – likely because he continues to work back up for pace after rupturing his ACL last year – but he admired his work. He made a strong pair of open field interventions in one of the Pittsburgh engines.
For the second game in a row, DeVante Parker was a no-show for the Patriots offense. He didn’t pull any of his goals—one was a poor throw by McJones—but he now has one nine-yard catch on four in his Patriots career. Two of these goals resulted in objections.
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