New England Patriots: 2 top stars in the win over Washington

Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

Let’s name the two top stars of the New England Patriots, one on offense and one on the defense, in their solid first pre-season game win in two years against the Washington Football Team (WFT).

First of all, it was great to see some real football again. And the home team Patriots didn’t disappoint.

Having had a good opportunity to scan the plays, it’s nice to be able to suggest the top two stars of this first encounter for the Patriots against real opposition in 2021.

It makes sense to give one to each side of the ball though there could have been several others. In any event, let’s start first on offense.

The New England Patriots top offensive star in the win against the WFT

The top offensive star wasn’t difficult to select. He has seen lots of exposure in this space. He’s a personal favorite and did nothing to dislodge that feeling last night.

That would be rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson, a fourth-round draft pick, and a big back from Oklahoma. Stevenson proved he is an exciting player.

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He can pretty much do it all from the running back position. Stevenson opened his NFL football account with a bang, scoring two touchdowns.

Now, rushing for two touchdowns of itself isn’t very noteworthy. Happens all the time. Yet, there was a difference in Stevenson’s TD’s.

His were from a running back wearing the red, white, blue, and silver uniform of the New England Patriots. (And they were also not scored by Cam Newton.) Now, that’s unusual.

Stevenson did it in 15 snaps. That’s a nice ratio. If he continues these heroics, he’ll be a fan favorite for certain, if he isn’t already.

Stevenson, as noted, is a big back and the goal, therefore, for him is to first and foremost log first-downs and score touchdowns in short-yardage situations.

He did both, beginning what will hopefully be ongoing occurrences for the Patriots for years.

Not only did he notch two touchdowns in those limited opportunities, but he also took the rock to the house on a 91-yard run, no less.

Not only can’t this writer remember a 91-yard touchdown run by a Patriots back anytime in the past, but certainly not by a rookie big back. That is quite certain.

Actually, in 1969 running back Carl Garrett had an 80-yard touchdown run the longest regular-season touchdown run for the Patriots in their history. So Stevenson’s maybe the longest ever.

If getting off to a good start is helpful, then Stevenson did just that. He gained a first down on short-yardage and scored touchdowns from short and long situations. It was a perfect debut.

His take-it-to-the-house ability was acknowledged by NFL expert Louis Riddick (a favorite commentator, and in this writer’s opinion, a likely future NFL General Manager) a while back.

Riddick called him, “a home run hitter type hitter”. He’s already been proven correct on this one, in Stevenson’s first game no less.

The New England Patriots best defensive player

The Patriots best defensive player against the WFT was an easy one. It was a newcomer, edge player, Matt Judon.

Judon only played 12 snaps. That was enough to show what he can deliver.

Matt “The Force” Judon, showed what an absolutely disruptive player he can be. Judon played a stand-up linebacker from the right side.

He opened up his tackling for the Patriots by bursting in from the right side and making a terrific stop at the line of scrimmage for his first Patriots tackle.

That was a drive-ending play and more of those will be needed if the New England Patriots are to have the dominant defense that is predicted.

Certainly, after the top starters departed early, it was a distinct issue against Washington. The defense had trouble getting off the field, a situation that plagued them all last season.

On another play, Judon dropped into coverage and broke up a pass intended for running back Antonio Gibson. He also landed a hit on ageless marvel, WFT quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Unfortunately, though, Judon also incurred a knee situation and went down on the field. It was a scary couple of minutes or so as he had to go to the medical tent for a look.

Thankfully, he seemed OK. He even went back onto the field but was quickly called back by the coaches. His night was over.

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In 12 plays, he’d already shown that he’s, “The Force”. No reason to take any further risk with this dominant player.

If Judon can stay healthy, he looks poised to make a run at a third straight Pro Bowl appearance, and maybe even at an All-Pro designation. This time, it will be in a New England Patriots uniform.

So those are my top two performers in the first pre-season game. There are lots of honorable mentions possible. Who did you think were the top Patriots players? We’d like to hear.