By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — There’s plenty to break down/comb through/pore over/whatever other cliche you might want to use on the Patriots’ Week 1 destruction of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. And we’ll do all of that.
But because that particular game was so thoroughly noncompetitive (way to show up in Week 1 on national TV, Stillllllllers), it’s best to first whip around the NFL to spotlight the big winners and huge losers from Week 1.
–Lamar Jackson has to be the biggest winner. After a dreadful playoff performance, we all wondered aloud if he was capable of playing quarterback in the NFL. Even against a bad Miami team, going 17-for-20 (!!!!!) for 324 yards and five touchdowns (!!!!!!) was a pretty good indication that he knows how to throw a football. “Not bad for a running back,” was a solid postgame flex, too.
–The Miami Dolphins are huge, tremendous losers. That one goes hand in hand with point No. 1. If they’re going to allow opponents to put up almost a 60-burger every week, it’s going to be a very long year for one Mr. Brian Flores. Doesn’t get any easier for Miami, either; Tom Brady’s coming to town in six short days.
–Melvin Gordon was a loser, unfortunately. While there are those of us who always like to see the players get paid more millions from the owners’ billions, Gordon lost any leverage he might have hoped to gain when Austin Ekeler rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown and also caught six passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns in a Chargers victory.
–The Jaguars’ season is over after some people thought they’d make a real run in the AFC. Their quarterback is undergoing surgery, their defensive captain got ejected for punching a helmet like a genius, their defense didn’t know Sammy Watkins was on the Chiefs, and their head coach has no control (or clue, possibly). Losers.
–The Titans were winners, having thumped the Browns (LOSERS) 43-13. But then I saw Delanie Walker boasting to the media about how “they sleep on us every year.” Yeah, man. You’re the Titans. You are the definition of the team that should be slept on. A Week 1 win over Cleveland does not change that. Your insistence that it should change that is exactly why we will continue to “sleep on” the Titans, year in, year out, in perpetuity.
–The Jets are massive, massive losers. They led the turnover battle 4-0 (until the final play). They led 16-0 at one point. They lost, 17-16. Losers.
–The Browns might be the biggest losers ever. Jarvis Landry telling reporters what questions they are allowed to ask him was a cherry on top of a loser sundae. I’m sure Freddie Kitchens will get it all under control though.
–Vernon Davis: Winner.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 8, 2019
–The Cardinals are almost winners. The Lions are definitely losers. Technically, because they tied, they’re tie-ers? But Matt Patricia’s team allowed 21 straight Cardinals points from the fourth quarter into OT. That’s loser football right there.
–Christian McCaffrey is a huge winner, because the world was reminded that he works out. Must be cool. Two-hundred-and-nine yards from scrimmage for that young fellow.
–DeSean Jackson is likewise a winner because he’s been running past defenses for what feels like 45 years at this point.
–Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers are all tremendous losers.
Let’s get into that, shall we? Leftover thoughts from the Patriots’ 33-3 win in Foxboro on Sunday night, coming right up.
–Josh Gordon did a thing that I’ve never seen anybody else do. I feel like people aren’t talking enough about that.
I still can’t properly describe what he did to Joe Haden. Or Terrell Edmunds. Or the laws of physics.
The Patriots’ Instagram story had the best angle on the Josh Gordon touchdown. I still don’t fully comprehend what happened, but I haven’t seen The Matrix in at least 15 years. pic.twitter.com/WXdEtuwO7x
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) September 9, 2019
What the heck, fella?
–The Patriots’ social media team has more important things to do than to create a nickname and a graphic for a relatively meaningless regular-season play. Fortunately, I can’t say the same for myself.
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) September 9, 2019
–The Max Kellermans/Noodle Arm/Overcooked Fettucine Bozos out there must have been absolutely frothing at the mouth upon seeing Tom Brady’s third-down pass to a wide-open Julian Edelman flutter and die well short of the intended target on the opening drive. Oh, their blood must have surged, their brains must have floated in glee, as the takes were writing themselves regarding the rapid deterioriation of the arm strength of No. 12 in blue.
“SEE?!” they all envisioned saying, in unison, on this lovely Monday morning. “TOLD YOU HE WAS COOKED. FOREVER. TOM BRADY IS OFFICIALLY OVER. THE FILM DOES NOT LIE.”
That same collection of clowns had to be just devastated to see Brady deliver an absolute bullet to Phillip Dorsett for a touchdown in the second quarter, over the corner, beating the safety, and hitting the intended target in the chest at the goal line.
— thesharp (@thesharpc) September 9, 2019
Dead, old, broken, flaccid arms can’t do that.
One day, they’ll all have their moment in the sun.
–This is a picture, folks.
It is indeed a photograph. There is no debate on that.
–The Patriots were far from perfect on this night. They settled for too many field goals. Brady missed a few throws. The running game didn’t really do what it set out to do. A couple of Pittsburgh deep shots could have connected with some better execution. Penalties were an issue.
And the Patriots won. By 30. In a game that was over before halftime.
As the kids might say, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
–The Patriots still are the masters of the little things. Take, for instance, the recognition, pursuit, angle and tackle by Patrick Chung on a second-and-3 completion, forcing Pittsburgh into a third-and-1. Then look (if you can see with that very bad low camera angle) at Danny Shelton holding his ground and Dont’a Hightower filling the would-be hole, as the rest of the defense swarmed the hole to stuff Pittsburgh on the ensuing third-and-1.
Pats defense stops the Steelers on 3rd & 1!!! pic.twitter.com/bku7muFBiX
— #BOOMIN (@ftbeard_17) September 9, 2019
There’s nothing special about those plays. It’s football 101. But all night long, the Patriots made them, and the Steelers didn’t.
–The Steelers also punted on that fourth-and-inches, and also kicked a field goal on fourth down from the 1-yard line. Some bolder decisions have been made in NFL history.
–Ted Karras seemingly did fine in his role filling in for captain David Andrews at center. But … his shotgun snaps need some work.
I half-jokingly made a comment about a couple of early floating shotgun snaps early in the game, but I figured it would improve quickly. Instead, it turned into a real problem. The snaps were slow and high, and you could see them affecting Brady’s timing just about every play out of the shotgun.
That part of the equation may not have been considered fully prior to Sunday. Karras might need to work on that one.
–In his first NFL game at age 42, Brady threw for 341 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Pretty good! The first question he faced at the postgame podium was about his early errant passes. (He started the night … 0-for-2, before leading the Patriots on scoring drive seven out of eight times.)
This stood out to me not because it was a bad question (I guess), but because Brady answered it thoroughly, saying there’s plenty of room to improve, that he can do a lot better, and that much work is required from him and his teammates. While no, Brady doesn’t need to be handed any honorary awards for behaving like a human being, the reality in the NFL is that not many star athletes take kindly to even the slightest mention of their miscues — especially after a 30-point win.
Go ask Ben “Whatever” Roethlisberger about his incompletions after a 30-point win over the Patriots. Go ask Jarvis Landry and Baker Mayfield about their mistakes after a huge win (if they ever actually win a big game). It will not go well.
Brady’s non-reaction is just yet another thing that tends to get taken for granted or overlooked around these parts.
(Antonio Brown, take notes.)
–The Patriots employ tough football players. That three-word sequence may seem like redundancy, but it really is remarkable how willing everyone on that roster is to absorbing massive hits, only to pop right back up and keep playing. (Brandon Lloyd likely couldn’t even watch some of those hits Sunday night.)
Brady took at least three heavy-duty shots. Edelman only knows how to get hit hard. (He added the front flip for a flourish on Sunday, which was nice.) Gordon held on to a deep lob when he likely knew he was going to get crunched by a speeding safety. All football players are obviously tough. But the Patriots tend to have a little something extra.
It really showed on a sequence in the second quarter. Brady got crushed by T.J. Watt and Anthony Chickillo, but managed to hang in long enough to complete a pass to Edelman, who also took a hard hit while picking up 16 yards.
On the next snap, Edelman dropped his head and somersaulted over an opponent.
Those two plays immediately preceded the 25-yard touchdown strike from Brady to Dorsett, the score that put this game out of reach for Pittsburgh with 33 minutes left to play.
–One more toughness sequence from the 42-year-old QB to share. He managed to complete a pass while getting clobbered by T.J. Watt:
Then he did this on the next snap.
Josh Gordon really held onto this 🤯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 9, 2019
Good football team. Smart football team. Tough football team.
–The Steelers, meanwhile, had linebacker Vince Williams covering Gordon on that bomb. Not smart.
–It’s a new season, so it’s probably worthwhile to introduce some weekly staples of the Leftover Thoughts column. One is the Ferocious Juke, and the other is the Zero Humans Defense. They’re both very complicated concepts.
A Ferocious Juke is when a guy jukes ferociously, generally leading to a comical result. We witnessed one on Sunday.
This was filthy. pic.twitter.com/uGr6rbacEH
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) September 9, 2019
We also witnessed the Steelers employing the Zero Humans Defense. You may not be a real X’s and O’s nerd. Maybe you’re not familiar with detailed play designs and play calls, and that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to break down and diagram the complicated aspects of this complicated sport. It’s not easy, but a big brain like me? I can handle it.
As a defense, any time a photo of an opponent’s touchdown can look like this …
… you just know you’re doing everything wrong, to an almost impressive degree.
If you’d like to see more examples of the Zero Humans Defense, feel free to go back and watch every game the Steelers have played in Foxboro under Mike Tomlin. Whether it’s leaving Rob Gronkowski completely uncovered (whoops!) or turning Chris Hogan into an All-Pro, the Steelers defense has a way of simply forgetting how to count to 11.
It’s pretty awesome.
–For all the issues the Patriots might have on the line (which might get worse if Marcus Cannon misses significant time) and at tight end, it really doesn’t matter if they can still get James White lined up against linebackers on third downs.
I mean …
Stop the fight. Every time. Linebackers — even linebackers who used to be safeties, like Mark Barron — cannot cover James White on third downs.
–The touchdown strike to Dorsett, the deep TD to Dorsett, and the bomb to Gordon were all highlights. But to me, what you really want to know about your 42-year-old quarterback is if he can still zing it to the sidelines on out-breaking routes to beat man coverage.
Tom Brady can do that.
And if you want a positive note for Brady: He’s now heading to Miami to face a defense that just allowed Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III to go a combined 23-for-26 for 378 yards with six touchdowns and no picks. Miami registered a grand total of two quarterback hits all game long. Baltimore put up 59 points.
Though the Patriots have had their problems in Miami, next week could be Brady’s best game ever. That’s a ridiculous thing to say … but it really could.
–This right here … this was pure art:
“False start, offense, all the linemen except for the center. Five-yard penalty, replay second down.”
Football season is back baby.