Antonio Brown hasn't even arrived yet and the Patriots offense is playing like a cheat code.
Seven players caught at least one pass from Tom Brady, who was downright surgical in New England’s 33-3 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers on the same night the Patriots unveiled a sixth Super Bowl banner.
New England’s most recent championship matched Sunday night’s opponent at Gillette Stadium for the most Super Bowls of all-time. Take your guess as to which team is closer to a seventh.
The Steelers were supposed to be reinvigorated without Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, who joined the New York Jets following a season-long holdout in 2018. Instead, a stale offense was exposed by a Patriots defense that’s given up six points in its last eight quarters of football dating back to Super Bowl LIII.
The mismatch was even more apparent when New England had the ball, Brady finishing a methodical 24 for 36 passing for 341 yards and three touchdown passes.
Phillip Dorsett was on the receiving end for two of Brady’s touchdowns, the first multi-score game of his five-year career. He led the team with 95 yards receiving to boot.
When New England’s receiving corps is at full strength, Dorsett might be the Patriots’ fifth-best option beyond Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas.
Gordon, in his return to the NFL following an indefinite suspension which cost him the final two games of the regular season and all of the playoffs in 2018, broke open the game’s scoring with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Brady in the first quarter, bouncing off of two defenders around the 5-yard line before trotting in.
Edelman finished with six catches for 83 yards, his first grab of the night the 500th of his career. If you’re looking for space on the “Edelman is a Hall of Famer” train, he’s got more receptions than two of the 18 wide receivers currently enshrined in Canton (Lynn Swann, 336 and Paul Warfield, 427 and has a real chance to pass two more in 2019 (John Stallworth, 537 and Fred Biletnikoff, 589).
Coaching has always been a mismatch between the Patriots and Steelers, at least as long as it’s been Bill Belichick vs. Mike Tomlin, and Sunday was no exception. Down 20-0 early in the third quarter, facing a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Tomlin sent out his field goal unit to keep it a three-score game.
But the story from the night should unquestionably be just how potent the Patriots offense was, before Brown is even in the building.
New England’s opponent next week? The tanking Miami Dolphins, who lost 59-10 in their season opener to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
There’s going to be some 2007 chatter over the coming weeks and it’s 100 percent warranted.