PFF’s ReFocused series features immediate takeaways from the two analysts who graded the game live. The two offer a detailed breakdown of the game’s most notable performances before the grades and advanced stats are reviewed and finalized by Senior Analysts.
All of PFF’s grades and advanced stats from this game and the other games played this week will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle. ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats.
PFF’s ELITE subscribers can also preview NFL and NCAA games in PFF Greenline, an online dashboard with projections for the spread, totals and moneyline.
After a few misses early in the contest, Tom Brady found his groove against Pittsburgh’s defense, connecting with Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman and five others on his way to a 373-yard, three-touchdown performance.
The WR group was meant to be a weakness of the New England Patriots, but even before the addition of Antonio Brown, the group of Gordon, Edleman and Phillip Dorsett gave the Steelers’ secondary fits all game long. All three receivers had more than 60 receiving yards on the night.
The Patriots’ secondary and linebackers did an excellent job in coverage. They kept everything in front of them and contested a lot of the passes thrown deep down the field.
New England was not all that effective at rushing the passer. Ben Roethlisberger had plenty of time to throw on the majority of his dropbacks, and there were even times where there was late pressure because no one could get open downfield. They sacked Roethlisberger just once on the night, and new addition Michael Bennett went unnoticed for much of the game.
Chase Winovich struggled to create pressure on Big Ben all game long. He made a nice tackle near the line of scrimmage in coverage, but his impact as a pass-rusher was minimal.
T.J. Watt was the best player for the Steelers’ defense. While he didn’t have a great game in run defense, he was a constant in the backfield on passing downs, giving Brady fits early and often.
After playing just 20 snaps in the preseason, Ben Roethlisberger seemed rusty in Pittsburgh’s season opener. He completed a ton of short passes, but he struggled with accuracy down the field, completing just two of 12 passes targeted over 10 yards downfield prior to their final two drives. He forced the ball on multiple occasions, made a horrible misread that should have resulted in an easy interception but was dropped, and fumbled once, too.
Typically one of the better left tackles in the league, Alejandro Villanueva had far more issues than normal against New England. While he never gave up a sack, he did allow a handful of pressures on the night. He also was called for two holding penalties, half as many as he had all of 2018.
Starter Devin Bush made a few plays in coverage running sideline to sideline as Pittsburgh’s top off-ball linebacker, but he really struggled against the run.