Takeaway No. 1: Both Passing Attacks are Elite
Both of these teams had impressive nights through the air. More than the overall numbers, both Roethlisberger and Brady seemed to be able to pick-up any sort of yardage through the air whenever they wanted.
The Patriots’ seemed to want to attack the Steelers through the air from the get-go. They started the game with six straight passes on their first drive, and while they started to mix in the run more as we moved along in the first half, Brady still threw the ball 18 times before halftime, compared to 11 runs. Clearly, the Patriots’ thought they could expose the Steelers’ secondary, and for good reason, as they were able to pick them apart all night.
On the flip side, Roethlisberger was able to do more of the same. While the Steelers’ gameplan seemed to feature the run game a bit more (which was also successful), Roethlisberger found holes in the Patriots defense with regularity, especially in the first half.
The Steelers’ passing game led them to many scoring opportunities early on, but the two missed field goals obviously hurt. On top of that, they missed a golden opportunity to put a touchdown on the board right before half. Roethlisberger found wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey wide open in the end-zone, but Heyward-Bey was not able to make the play in-bounds.
The Steelers were able to put a field goal on the board right before halftime, but it should have been a touchdown. Missed opportunities were the story of the night for the Steelers.
That being said, their passing attack is clearly legitmate. The Patriots put their primary focus on Brown, and he was still able to pick them apart for a huge game. Marcus Wheaton also looked very good at times, and he will be a good third wide receiver once Martavis Bryant returns from his four-game suspension.
Based on their track record at quarterback position, this is surprising to nobody, but both the Steelers and Patriots proved they have elite-level passing attacks in Week 1.