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MORSE: Honest Observations from Patriots’ Week 2 Victory over the Steelers

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
2 weeks ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Honest Observations from Patriots’ Week 2 Victory over the SteelersCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots didn’t exactly jump into the win column but played well enough to win.  They for the most part avoided the crucial mistakes that prevented them from winning the week before.  The execution was much better, especially along the offensive line.  The same can’t be said for Mac Jones who played perhaps his worst game in a Patriots uniform.

  • The Offensive line played great. They gave up no sacks to a team that had 7 the week before.  Granted, TJ Watt was out and his absence could have been the difference in the game, he is that good.  I can’t wait for the Pro Football Focus grades to come out this week.  They should be outstanding led by Cole Strange.  How many times did you hear Craig Heyward’s name mentioned about making a play?  He ended up with 5 Tackles of which 3 were solo as he moved all over the line.  I loved how they ran the ball to close out the game.  What was especially satisfying was that three of those close-out runs were zone blocking, stretch plays.  Trent Brown had a strong game.  He got away with a false start whereas Isaiah Wynn didn’t.  David Andrews got called for a hold that wasn’t, more on this later.
  • Mac Jones had a very poor game. He had a clean pocket all day, yet he felt the pressure.  His throws off his back foot were very noticeable as those sailed.  His decision-making was very questionable.  He missed several wide-open receivers, Jakobi Meyers three times, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Hunter Henry another time.  Why did he throw deep to Davante Parker?  That was a throw that was begging to be picked off.  He nearly threw an Interception to Cameron Sutton, who should have made the catch.
  • Jakobi Meyers was clutch this week going over the middle. Pittsburgh stuck to their two high safety look.  The TEs took the seams and forced the safeties to respect the deep ball and Meyers worked underneath, often taking big hits.  He was 9 rec on 13 targets for 95 yards.  Remember he was overthrown three times.  He had one drop he should have caught.
  • Running backs Damien Harris 15/95 1TD, 4.7 ypc (6th in the league before Sunday Night) and Rhamondre Stevenson 9/47, 5.2 ypc were both tremendous as the team ran for 127 yards.
  • Kendrick Bourne was credited with 2 catches on 3 targets. He actually had another catch for 10 yards called back on the absolute bogus holding call on David Andrews.
  • Andrews had pancaked the D-lineman and was lying on top of him. The D-lineman tried to go low on Andrews and he just pancaked him … terrible call on what was a pretty good job by this officiating crew.
  • Congrats to Josh Uche for playing to the whistle on his scoop and score. He was smart and since he didn’t hear a whistle, continued with the ball into the end zone.  I appreciated the fact the official let the play run out and then went back to the review.  All turnovers are automatically reviewed and they reversed the call, which was the correct call.
  • Brenden Schooler’s recovery of the muffed punt by Gunner Olszewski was the turning point of the game and may have won it for the Patriots. Olszewski let the ball hit him in the face mask for the turnover.
  • Mack Wilson gets kudos for tipping a Trubisky pass that was intercepted by Jalen Mills. I had questioned why JuWhuan Bentley was in the Miami game on 4th and 7 just before the half.  He can’t cover.  Waddle zoomed past Bentley and split the safeties for the backbreaking 42-yard TD pass.  If Mack had been in, that play wouldn’t have happened.
  • Myles Bryant was lucky on the booming 69-yard punt by Pressley Harvin that took him into the endzone. He muffed the punt and it rolled into the endzone.  He recovered it and I thought it would have been a safety.  However the official immediately indicated it was a touchback.  The ruling was explained to Mike Tomlin and he was satisfied.  Anytime a punt travels inside the 10-yard line you have to let it go.  Pierre Strong made an ill-advised return of a kickoff 5 yards deep in the endzone and only got out to the 17.
  • What a weapon Pittsburgh punter Pressley Harvin was. He was 4/207 yards 50+ avg.
  • Chris Boswell is a great kicker, especially in Acrisure Stadium. It is not an easy place to kick as the wind is always swirling.   Nick Folk didn’t play the wind well enough and his 52-yard kick sailed wide right.  If you noticed the flags at the top of the goalposts, they were swinging wildly to the right.
  • I loved Ian Eagles’ throw-away line after Charles Davis made a Seinfeld reference after Nelson Agholor’s TD snatch. Eagle said, “they’re real and they’re spectacular”.  Perhaps that was an inappropriate reference but it was fun anyways.  It really had nothing to do with the play but it was a Seinfeld reference.
  • Where were the TEs? No catches for either TE.  Jones missed Henry on one play and forced it to Smith on an ill-advised pass.  Smith was targeted 3 times and Henry once.
  • Why is Davante Parker on this team? He was targeted twice on 53 snaps.  He needs to go!  He has given up 2 INTs on his few targets.  I would rather have 33 yo, Cole Beasley, as a true slot receiver.  Parker was being covered by Linebacker Robert Spillane and Mac Jones didn’t see the two high safeties, who baited him into throwing the pass.
  • Perhaps the Patriots’ Defense is better than we thought. Look at what Miami did in Baltimore today in their comeback win.  Tua Tagoviola threw for 469 yards on 36/50 and 6 TD passes.  They put up 547 yards of total offense.  The Patriots’ Defense only gave up one play of over 20 yards and that was a 23-yard pass to George Pickens.
  • Why didn’t the Patriots challenge a 3-17 completion to Diontae Johnson? It was clearly not the first down.  Steelers Radio broadcast claimed that Belichick was distracted talking to offensive players
  • The Patriots’ streak of not starting the season 0-2 dates back to 2000.
  • They forced Pitt into a long drive of 16 plays and they settle for a 48-yard FG. The next score was another FG (25 yards) off the missed 52-yard FG which gave Pitt excellent field position.  The big drive was a 75-yard, 9-play drive that resulted in a TD and 2-point conversion.
  • The patriots’ defense has allowed 13 and 14 points in two road games.
  • TJ Watt was the difference in this game. When I made my pre-season prediction and had this as a Patriots loss, a healthy Defensive Player of the Year was a key factor for Pitt.  Without him, I actually bet the Patriots to win (-2.5) and won.
  • Why didn’t Pittsburgh exploit the Chase Claypool /Myles Bryant mismatch? Claypool had 4 catches in 6 targets for 26 yards.  Bryant led the Patriots with 8 tackles, 5 solo, and a Pass Breakup.
  • The Patriots did their job on defense to end the game as they held Pitts burgh to 2 Three and Outs in their last two possessions. Then the Patriots’ offense took over with 6:33 left in the game and Pittsburgh never got the ball back.  They ran the ball when they needed to run the ball and they used zone blocking, and stretch play to do it.  That 13-play drive was 9 runs, one pass (to Lil’Jordan Humphrey for 11 yards), and 3 kneel-downs.  Only one pass was over 20 yards (23 to George Pickens).
  • A disturbing report came out after the game that the Patriots didn’t challenge a 3-17 pass to Dionte Johnson, which was obviously short of the line to gain. The football never crossed that line.  The Pittsburgh radio broadcast was reported saying that Belichick was distracted coaching the offense and didn’t make the challenge.  Pittsburgh hurried to the line and ran a play.
  • Too many delays of game penalties or wasted timeouts. At one point Mac Jones was seen yelling at the sideline.  Makes me think the coach calling the plays (Matt Patricia) was getting the plays in late.

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