Offense makes progress in the win 17-14

Offense makes progress in the win 17-14

Patriots-Steelers takeaway: Signs of progress for Patrick’s offense? appeared first on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots didn’t earn any style points, but they got what they got Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.

The Patriots edged the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-14 on Sunday to earn their first win of the 2022 NFL season and bounce back from their season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers carried the load for New England’s offense, which accounted for 205 of quarterback Mac Jones’ 252 passing yards. Running back Damien Harris added 71 yards and a touchdown, and the Patriots’ defense held Mitchell Trubisky and the Steelers’ offense to just 243 yards of total offense.

What did the Patriots do right in Week 2, and what do they still need to work on? Here are five instant takeaways from Sunday’s win, featuring real-time analysis from Patriots Insiders Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry.

1. Back to basics for the Patriots offense?

Although the bar is very low, the arrow seems to be aimed at Matt Patricia’s group.

After mustering just seven points for 271 yards in a season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots put together more positive plays on Sunday in Pittsburgh, totaling 376 yards while picking up nine first downs and scoring a pair touchdowns.

The Patriots kept things simple with their personnel groups, against Perry, with Jones consistently targeting Meyers and Agholor on intermediate throws early in the game.

Late in the game, New England relied on a power running attack to seal the win, moving away from the “wide area” concepts the team struggled with throughout the season.

The Patriots still have plenty of questions to address on offense, and 17 points isn’t going to get the job done against more powerful opponents. But they took a step in the right direction on Sunday with a largely conservative approach that resulted in victory.

2. The Patriots defense takes advantage of Trubisky’s shortcomings

For all the offensive growing pains the Patriots have, they are still in better shape than Mitchell Trubisky and the Steelers.

Trubisky had a terrible day under center in Pittsburgh, completing 21 of 33 passes for 168 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His pick was a drive-killer late in the first quarter, because he failed to see Patriots linebacker Mack Wilson, who tipped the ball into the hands of Jalen Mills to intercept the corner first as a Patriot.

Although the Steelers converted six of the first seven third downs, they couldn’t sustain a drive against the Patriots’ defense, which used a “bend but don’t break” strategy against Trubisky and Co.

New England’s defense has allowed just 26 offensive points through two games.

3. Nelson Agholor makes his case as New England’s deep threat

The Patriots brought in DeVante Parker to win 50-50 balls, but it was Agholor who took over that department on Sunday.

Agholor made his best play in a Patriots uniform late in the second quarter, leaping over Steelers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon to complete a 44-yard pass from Mac Jones.

Meanwhile, Jones’ deep ball to Parker was intercepted in the first quarter by Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, making it two straight games with an interception on a deep shot for Parker. The former Miami Dolphins wide receiver also had a miscommunication with Jones on New England’s first drive.

It may take time for Parker to adjust to New England’s offense, but in the meantime, Agholor looks like Jones’ No. 1 target. 2 behind Jakobi Meyers.

4. Kendrick Bourne sees (slightly) more playing time

All signs pointed to Kendrick Bourne getting more runs in Week 2 after effectively being benched in Week 1. That was the case Sunday in Pittsburgh — but Bourne wasn’t exactly a staple in the offense.

The veteran receiver played just one snap in the first quarter and didn’t catch his first pass until the 1:22 mark of the second quarter. Bourne had two catches for 16 yards and at least one count in the game, but he still seems to be well down on the Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart.

5. Gunner Olszewski gives his former team a gift

Gunner Olszewski’s revenge game didn’t go exactly as planned.

The Steelers’ return man, who spent his first three seasons with the Patriots, made a critical error in the third quarter when he fumbled a punt by New England’s Brenden Schooler.

Olszewski’s gaffe gave the Patriots the ball at the Pittsburgh 10-yard line after an unnecessary roughness penalty by the Steelers, and the Patriots broke through three plays later with a Damien Harris touchdown plunge.

The Patriots needed all the help they could get to win this one, and Olszewski certainly obliged.

New England will face a much tougher challenge next Sunday against a motivated Baltimore Ravens team looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to the Dolphins in Week 2.

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