Bryce Baringer might have to start a therapy group with Mac Jones to recover from the PTSD they both now have as a result of the Patriots' incompetent blocking. But personally, the biggest takeaway from this game is that officials shouldn’t decide who wins a game of football, but here we are.
The NFL will point to increased media scrutiny now that broadcasters have former officials on the commentary team pointing out errors. But the level of officiating seems to have reached its nadir as chatter about a “sky judge” intensifies.
If that was a false start, football just became even more dangerous. A center or long snapper has to look up to check where the rush is coming from, or they’ll get crushed.
But enough of the complaining; what did we actually learn from the Patriots’ third win of the 2023 season?
Besides now knowing that Caleb Williams will have to travel the entire length of Route 66, we also learned George Pickens’ combination of frustration and despair at the Steelers’ offense was entirely justified. Maybe it wasn’t Matt Canada’s fault after all?
Lesson 1 – Speed kills but a lack of speed makes for an ugly game
In the modern NFL, teams need to have the ability to stretch the field. The longest completed pass in this game went for just 37 yards! If you’re not sure just how terrible that is, Chris Moore of the Titans has caught three passes for 40 yards or more this season. And he’s only caught 13 passes this year (and the Titans are 28th in the league).
Ironically, George Pickens has caught three passes for 40+ yards, too, but they were thrown by Kenny Pickett and not Mitchell Trubisky.
Without DeVante Parker or Pop Douglas, the Patriots’ offense has a real lack of pace. Not just the explosive threat Douglas provides but also anyone who can make defensive backs drop deep. And Trubisky really looked like a quarterback who hadn’t been throwing to the Steelers receivers all season because he hadn’t.
It made for an interesting battle that was decided by some very thin margins. As they say, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”