Tom Brady relished every moment of this NFL season opener. Brady, who threw for four touchdowns, three to favorite target Rob Gronkowski, in a 28-21 victory Thursday night over the generally ineffective Pittsburgh had this to say about the night:
“It was a pretty special night, I was excited, our whole team was excited. We haven’t had one of these games in a long time. It’s always fun being out there and getting an opportunity to go play. We took advantage of it. It was a good win.”
Now that “Deflategate” was behind him the star quarterback was back to his unstoppable self, going 25 of 32 for 288 yards. Brady, whose 161 victories are tops for a starting quarterback with one franchise in NFL history set a team-record with 19 straight completions; and he had his 23rd game with four or more touchdown passes, third all-time along with Brett Favre.
Brady led drives of 90 and 64 yards for scores on passes to Gronkowski. Gronkowski also recovered a fumble by running back Dion Lewis at the Pittsburgh 1 before his final TD and had 94 rushing yards.
However Gronkowski insisted this night was all about Brady.
“Everything he’s been going through all offseason, he just came out and he was on fire. I don’t know his stats or anything, but he was hitting all of the open guys, reading the defense well, calling the right plays. He’s just unreal.”
Brady spread the love for his other tight end, newcomer Scott Chandler, by hitting him for a 1-yard score to cap an 80-yard march with the second-half kickoff. Before kickoff, the Patriots unveiled their fourth championship banner as owner Robert Kraft and former players Troy Brown, Willie McGinest and Ty Law carried out New England’s four Super Bowl trophies.
The crowd mocked Commissioner Roger Goodell over “Deflategate” with fourth-quarter chants of “Where is Roger?” Goodell was not in attendance. The game only occasionally came close. Third-stringer Lewis rushed for 69 yards, and leading receiver Julian Edelman had 11 catches for 97 yards.
Steeler’s Coach Mike Tomlin had this to say about his team’s performance “We’ve got to finish a few instances better. I thought we got a little frazzled at times. Some of the young people have got to get better in a hurry.”
The Steelers played without two All-Pros on offense, running back Le’Veon Bell (suspended) and center Maurkice Pouncey (injured) and without suspended receiver Martavis Bryant. Pittsburgh moved the ball decently, gaining 464 yards but it never really was enough.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 351 yards and a late TD to All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. Backup DeAngelo Williams rushed for 127 yards.
Tomlin was noticeably angry after the game, complaining that coaches were unable to communicate since they were hearing the Patriots radio broadcast over their headsets. Patriot’s coaches also had the same complaint about similar troubles.
According to the league it was a temporary problem caused partly by the weather. For years, opposing teams have complained about having headset problems in Gillette Stadium.
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