Patriots

Nelson Agholor’s spectacular catch lifts Patriots to 17-14 win over Steelers

The Patriots picked up a key road win after Agholor hauled in a 44-yard TD catch.

Nelson Agholor made a leaping two-handed catch over a Steelers defender for a 44-yard touchdown, giving the Patriots offense a much needed lead heading into halftime. 

Then New England hung on frantically for a 17-14 win. 

With the win, the Patriots extend the NFL’s longest-streak of avoiding 0-2 starts, which has lasted since the 2001 season. 

A pair of critical second-half mistakes by Pittsburgh put New England in position to preserve the win. 

First, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones threw what looked like a sure-fire interception right to Pittsburgh’s Cameron Sutton. But Sutton dropped the ball, giving New England another chance. 

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Then, when the Patriots did have to punt, Gunner Olszewski muffed the ball and Brenden Schooler recovered for the Patriots. New England began the drive with strong field position, and ended it with a two-yard touchdown run from Damien Harris. 

Here’s how the Patriots picked up a key road win against Pittsburgh:

Fourth quarter

1:28: Patriots enter victory formation and run down the clock. New England wins 17-14.

1:40: Harris gets first down but limps off field after being shaken up.

1:51: Another big run from Harris. He’s up to 66 yards and a touchdown on 14 touches.

2:15: Damien Harris breaks free for another first-down run. Patriots run game having success when it counts. And they’re burning clock.

2:47: Cole Strange comes around on a trap and opens up enough space for a nice gain that results in a first down.

8:23: Jones’s pass intender for Jonnu Smith is incomplete, Patriots unable to convert on 3rd-and-2. Patriots punt.

14:58: Trubisky sees Friermuth with 1 on 1 coverage and zips the ball in for a touchdown. Then he gets the 2-point conversion with a completion to Diontae Johnson. Patriots lead 17-14.

Third quarter

0:15: Steelers will open the 4th quarter with 3rd and short in the red zone.

2:26: Trubisky locates a wide-open Najee Harris for a first down. Then Olszewski gets another first on an end-around. Steelers offensive is moving the ball.

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2:50: Damien Harris rumbles in for a two yard touchdown. Patriots capitalize on a pair of big Steelers mistakes and increase the lead to double-digits. Patriots lead 17-6.

3:58: Former Patriot Gunner Olszewski muffs a punt, and new Patriots special teams standout Brenden Schooler recovers. New England gets another break and takes over in prime field position.

4:17: Mac Jones throws the ball right at Pittsburgh’s Cameron Sutton who couldn’t haul in the interception. Lucky break for the Pats.

5:40: Jones connects with Agholor for a 25-yard completion. Another clutch pickup from those two.

6:27: Pittsburgh calls time-out with 3rd and 8 and solid field position. Jabrill Peppers breaks up the pass attempt on the next play. Boswell hits a 52-yard field goal for Pittsburgh. Patriots lead 10-6.

7:09: Trubisky finds Johnson for a 9-yard gain.

10:04: Short completion to Rhamondre Stevenson makes it 3rd-and-8. Short completion to Meyers isn’t enough for 1st. Nick Folk misses 52-yard field goal, ending streak. Score stays 10-3 in favor of New England.

Second quarter

0:22: Nelson Agholor gets separation down the sideline and makes a marvelous jump ball catch for a 44-yard touchdown. Made a nice play on 50-50 ball that could have been just as easily been picked off. Huge momentum play right before half. Patriots lead 10-3.

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1:10: A Kendrick Bourne sighting! Bourne gets a catch just before halftime after playing sparingly during the first half.

2:00: Mac Jones runs for a four yard gain before being chased down by Alex Highsmith.

2:18: Mac Jones calls timeout. Patriots have ball at 35. Patriots convert QB sneak for 1st down. Time for a two-minute drill after the two minute warning.

3:05: Jones finds Nelson Agholor for a catch, Agholor rolls across the first down line.

3:13: Trubisky throws into a crowd of Patriots, narrowly avoiding an interception. Steelers punt, Patriots take over.

5:04: Pittsburgh’s Chase Claypool takes advantage of a matchup with a smaller Myles Bryant for a first-down catch.

7:04: Davon Godchaux is questionable to return with a back injury per NFL Network’s Mike Giardi.

7:04: Mac Jones gets a 20+ yard completion to Jakobi Meyers, but Meyers is 2 yards short of converting 3rd-and-26. Patriots punt.

7:38: A 3rd-and-16 gets even longer with a penalty called on Isaiah Wynn.

9:12: Jahlani Tavai breaks through for a key third-down sack that limits Pittsburgh to a field goal. The game is tied 3-3.

12:19: Diontae Johnson gets back-to-back sideline catches for consecutive first downs. He’s getting open with ease on this drive.

First quarter

0:44: Mac Jones gives the ball right back with an interception of his own. His former Alabama teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick now has interceptions in back-to-back games.

1:44: A diving Mack Wilson tips a Trubisky pass into Jalen Mills’s hands for an interception. Fist takeaway of the season for New England.

5:17: A Trubisky completion to Diontae Johnson is poked out by the Patriots defense, setting up Josh Uche for a 37-yard scoop and score. The call on the field is reversed. First down Pittsburgh, score stays 3-0 in favor or New England.

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6:44: Nick Folk extends the NFL’s longest active field-goal streak by nailing a 28-yarder. Solid opening drive for the Patriots ends with points. New England leads 3-0.

7:30: Patriots get called for delay of game on 3rd and 8. Jones hits Agholor for a 9-yard completion.

8:30: Damien Harris plunges forward for another first down; he has 21 yards on his first four carries.

10:00: Mac Jones is finiding his rhythm. He connects with Nelson Agholor for a 16 yard gain.

11:33: Mac Jones hits Jakobi Meyers for a second-straight first down catch. Leaping catch puts Patriots in Steelers territory..

Inactives 11:30 a.m.

The Patriots players listed as inactive are: Joshuah Bledsoe, Chasen Hines, Sam Roberts, Bailey Zappe, and Marcus Jones.

The Steelers players listed as inactive are: Mason Rudolph, Kendrick Green, Steven Sims, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Mark Robinson, and David Anenih.

Pregame notes 11 a.m.

No matter how bad a season opener happened to be, the Patriots have found a way to avoid starting off 0-2 every year since 2001.

That’s the longest active streak in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Nearly 90 percent of teams that have started 0-2 since 1990 ended up missing the playoffs, according to ESPN.

This week, the streak is in jeopardy as the Patriots take on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Patriots lead the all-time series 17-16.

It’s first time the teams have met since 2019, and the first time without both Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger since 1998.

It’s also the first time Brian Flores and Bill Belichick will be on the same field since Flores sued the NFL and used text messages between himself and Belichick as evidence for his suit.

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Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, who had x-rays done on his back following last week’s 20-7 loss to Miami, has been removed from the Patriots’ injured list and is expected to play.

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