NFL News & Analysis

NE-PIT grades: Brady, Gronkowski continue hot streak against Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks with Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots before the game at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

New England Patriots 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 16

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Patriots' Week 7 road win over the Steelers.

New England Patriots

Quarterback grade: Tom Brady, 85.9

Brady outstanding again in Patriots win

Tom Brady was again one of the top New England players on the field. As usual, Brady was surgical on short passes, hitting 11 of 13 attempts from 0-9 yards, and one of those incompletions was a drop. If you remove throwaways, batted passes, and drops, Brady was 19-of-23 on the day. Brady did all of this with all of his offensive linemen besides Marcus Cannon earning below-average pass-blocking grades.

Brady vs pressure

Top offensive performances

TE Rob Gronkowski, 89.1

QB Tom Brady, 85.9

OT Marcus Cannon, 84.2

FB James Devlin, 80.2

G Joe Thuney, 78.7

Complete performance from Gronk highlights Pats' offense

Julian Edelman (60.2 grade) was targeted 10 times against the Steelers, with nine completions and a drop. The real star, however, was Rob Gronkowski, who caught all four balls thrown to him for 94 yards and a touchdown. Most of the Patriots' success in the rushing game came when running to the edges; Gronkowski was a big part of that, with an 82.3 run-blocking grade.

Top defensive grades:

CB Malcolm Butler, 92.0

LB Jamie Collins, 87.6

S Patrick Chung, 84.7

S Duron Harmon, 81.0

LB Don’t’a Hightower, 79.1

Butler key in slowing Brown down

The Patriots' defense played a strong game, as they where able to force the Steelers to throw the ball on 50 snaps. The star of the secondary was cornerback Malcolm Butler, who was assigned to Antonio Brown; outside of a 51-yard play, Butler was able to restrict Brown most of the game. Butler knocked down three passes and intercepted another, as he is showing the past two weeks that when he is at his best, he should be in the discussion for one of the top corners in the league.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Quarterback grade: Landry Jones, 49.6

Jones struggles to beat Patriots' secondary downfield

When Ben Roethlisberger was officially listed as out for the week, everyone knew this would be a tough ask of Landry Jones to beat the Patriots; through the first quarter and early parts of the second, however, everything looked to be going according to plan. The Steelers' offense was able make a few plays to make the game competitive. Jones' play did slip in the second half, though, as the Steelers had to play catch-up; New England was giving Jones' the short options, but when the QB attempted a pass over 10 yards, he only completed 43 percent of his targets for 132 yards.

Landry Jones vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

G David DeCastro, 79.0

G Ramon Foster, 78.9

C Maurkice Pouncey, 78.5

WR Antonio Brown, 74.3

T Alejandro Villanueva, 73.4

Steelers' offensive line solid in pass protection

The Steelers' offensive line was good in pass protection, allowing just five total pressures in 50 pass-blocking snaps. Landry Jones himself was charged with four more pressures, as he would move into pressure from a clean pocket. However, when the Steelers needed to run the ball, they struggled to open up many holes for Le’Veon Bell, as the Patriots where able to slow down the Pittsburgh RB for most of the game.

Top defensive performances

ED Jarvis Jones, 82.4

CB William Gay, 81.7

CB Ross Cockrell, 81.0

LB Ryan Shazier, 75.8

DI Daniel McCullers, 75.4

Center of Steelers' defense exposed through the air

The Patriots made a concerted effort form the beginning of the game to attack Pittsburgh's linebackers and safeties. Lawrence Timmons was tested early against Edelman, allowing eight receptions on nine attempts for 68 yards. Robert Golden was in coverage on both of Gronkowski’s huge catches—one for a 36-yard TD, the other for a 37-yard gain. Lawrence Timmons and Robert Golden earned coverage grades of 38.5 and 37.9, respectively, and were the lowest-graded players in the game.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Patriots CB Malcolm Butler

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.


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