Check out final grades and analysis below.
Pittsburgh - 31
New England - 55
|Position Unit||1st Half Grade||Final Grade|
Game analysis for the New England Patriots
Pass Offense: So much for Handgate. Brady had his best game of the year, finishing 23-for-33 with 432 yards and four touchdowns. Say what you will about Aaron Dobson’s drops, but his two touchdowns were both beautiful exhibitions of why New England drafted him. The best news for the Pats: After a heart-stopping injury scare, Gronk came back and moved just fine.
Run Offense: Ridley’s fumble got the rock rolling on another rough third quarter, but he made up for it with the game-sealing touchdown in the fourth. Ridley ran hard and well after the fumble, rewarding Bill Belichick for not sending him back to the doghouse. LeGarrette Blount also ran well in limited carries.
Run Defense: After a good start, things got a lot rougher for the Pats in the second half. Pittsburgh ended up averaging 5.5 yards per rush, but because New England built up a big lead, the Steelers were unable to turn to the ground in the fourth. The Pats still need to put forth a 60-minute effort here.
Pass Defense: It appears the losses are finally starting to pile up in the secondary, as the Pats hemorrhaged yards through the air, especially following Steve Gregory’s injury. Give them credit for holding a couple times after Pittsburgh tied it, but this unit badly needs the bye for rest and reinforcements.
Special Teams: The Patriots have not enjoyed many explosive returns this year, but Julian Edelman’s 43-yard punt return set up a touchdown when the game was still in doubt. Blount also had a few nice kick returns to around the 30-yard line.
Coaching: As alluded to above, one of the primary reasons the Pats won tonight was because of Belichick’s trust in Ridley. If the Patriots play more two-tight end packages and less of the three-receiver personnel we’ve seen for most of the year, Ridley should see the field more often. Fumbling bugaboo aside, that is undoubtedly a good thing for the New England offense.
First-half analysis for the New England Patriots
Pass Offense: It’s like old times on offense, with lots of two-tight end sets and Tom Brady slicing up the opposition. Brady has diffused the week-long hoopla surrounding his swollen hand, going 13-for-18 with 252 yards. Brady has thrown a pair of beautiful touchdowns to Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski, and has already targeted the latter eight times.
Run Offense: After some questioned his sporadic playing, Stevan Ridley has taken the majority of the snaps so far. Ridley’s had his share of ups-and-downs so far, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry and failing to punch it in on 4th-and-goal from inches out, but he also redeemed himself with a one-yard touchdown to end the half.
Run Defense: The Patriots won the battle at the line of scrimmage in the first half, and got a critical 4th-and-1 stop in the second quarter. New acquisition Isaac Sopoaga held the point on that stop, and along with Steve Gregory, has stood out in this department thus far.
Pass Defense: The pass rush was hot early on, with Rob Ninkovich causing a strip-sack and Chandler Jones getting home, but Pittsburgh went to a no-huddle in the second quarter, and once the rush dried up, the holes in New England’s secondary showed. Both Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard got burned on big plays, with Dennard conceding a 27-yard touchdown to Antonio Brown.
Special Teams: There's not much to speak of here so far. There have been a few minor negatives with Felix Jones’ opening 40-yard kick return and Ryan Allen booming yet another punt deep into the end zone, but nothing particularly costly.
Coaching: The switch back to the two-tight end package has paid dividends for the offense, particularly through the air. Defensively, might we see a repeat of last week when rookie Logan Ryan took the second-half snaps from a struggling Arrington?