PITTSBURGH – The New England Patriots’ offense is still a work in progress, but the way Sunday’s 17-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers ended could be a springboard for the unit to forge its desired identity.
The offense took place with 6:33 remaining and ran out of clock, accelerating into submission to the Steelers.
It took premium strength, both physically and mentally, as the Acresur Stadium blew up and the Steelers’ signature song “Renegade” kicked off in the fourth quarter.
“It’s part of the winning formula. You want to finish with the ball,” said Patriots receiver Nelson Agholor, who made a 44-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter.
“If you look at us last year, the four-minute drive was not in our favor. We won the four-minute drive [on Sunday]The end of the game, the milking of the clock, to be in formation of victory. that’s important. Most championship teams see a lot of them, because they win the right way.”
Whether the Patriots can eventually become a championship team—which is a high bar to clarify, but that has become the norm after two decades of dynasts—is a long way off. But no team is a finished product after the second week of the season, and perhaps punishing the Steelers down the stretch could be the catalyst for raising the Patriots to that level.
It came on the same day that the Baltimore Ravens blew a 35-14 fourth-quarter lead over the Miami Dolphins and the Cleveland Browns slipped a 30-17 fourth-quarter lead to a loss to the New York Jets — how much to close the game. Be daunting, be reminded of it.
“It was great to be able to juggle the ball in there at the end. Our backs ran hard, and our line gave them some room to run,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “You always want to end up kneeling the ball. That’s the best way to win.”
The Patriots (1-1) – led by Damien Harris (15 carries, 71 yards, one TD) and Ramondre Stevenson (nine carries, 47 yards) and a much infamous line from Trent Brown, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Mike Onvenu And Isaiah Wynn – now 1-1 – bring that grind-it-out approach in next Sunday’s home opener against the Ravens.
Harris was off after his final run, but said with a smile after the game: “I’m fine, Doug! Look at me. I’m fine!”
Hard-charging runs by Harris and Stevenson were key in the final 6:33, while a 21-off-35 for quarterback Mac Jones (252 yards, one TD, one INT) made a clutch 11-yard pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Gave. After second and 13 scrambled on third and short for the team’s first down in the final march.
“Teams that win in the NFL do this—close a game,” said Jones, who was credited by Steelers linebacker Malik Reid for turning plays on the final drive, where Pittsburgh was more vulnerable. .
As Harris put it, “It’s definitely a step in the right direction. Obviously, we’re still not where we want to be. We’ve got a lot of time to get there. But closing the game like this is a must.” That’s a huge confidence booster. It’s another step we can take next week, with another tough opponent, to continue to be the team we want to be.”
The strong finish ensured the Patriots didn’t go down 0-2 for the first time since 2001, the longest active streak in the NFL to avoid two straight losses to open the season.
Some of its players are looking forward with hope after scoring just seven points in the first week.
“I hope this game is a step in the direction we are going,” Agholor said. “I don’t want it to be, ‘This is our identity.’ I want it to be, ‘We see some good things; let’s get better from here.'”