Patriots start with a dominating debut

©Alex MacDougall

By Alex MacDougall
BU News Service

Before even playing a snap in the 2019 season, the Patriots already sent shock waves through the NFL by signing Antonio Brown, the former star wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, on Saturday. Brown is also a former holdout and constant headache for the Oakland Raiders, who acquired him over the offseason. After complaining from everything from his helmet to accidentally freezing his feet, the Raiders released Brown one day before the season started, only to see the Patriots snatch him right up.

The rapid nature of Saturday’s trade meant Brown wasn’t eligible for the first regular season Patriots game, but you can bet he was well on the minds of the Patriots’ opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Seeing one of their former stars go to one of their top competitors in the AFC has to be a blow. Once again, the Patriots are undisputed favorites to win it all, and the rest of the conference can only quake in fear.

If Brown was on the minds of the Steelers, it seemed nothing much else was; surely nothing on how to stop the Patriots. The first week battle, touted as an early matchup between two longtime playoff contenders, amounted to a drubbing of the Steelers, 33-3. Tom Brady and crew were firing on all cylinders, with the 42-year-old quarterback firing long and deep down the field, and constantly hitting his targets, including a 58-yard strike to Phillip Dorsett, who had scored earlier on a 25-yard play, for a touchdown. The defense looked equally strong, holding Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and their (now number one) wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster without a touchdown.

The fact that the Patriots could inflict such carnage upon such an established team as the Steelers, without even having Antonio Brown play, sends an ominous cloud over any other teams having to face them. Sure, the Steelers may not turn out to be as good as they have been in previous seasons, having also lost running back Le’Veon Bell to the Jets, but they aren’t expected to do badly either.

If this week’s win looked dominant, we may yet be in for even more next week against the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins looked hapless this week against the Ravens, as they were torched by a second-year quarterback and a rookie wide receiver, among others, for a whopping total of 59 points. After this week’s win, one is left to wonder — can the Patriots go for 60?

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