The defending Super bowl champions New England Patriots started the defence of their crowd with a comprehensive 28-21 home win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski linked up three times to give the Pats the perfect start to the 2015 season.
The first touchdown came in the second quarter after a quiet opening 15 minutes, just under four minutes into the second quarter with a 16-yard pass.
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Seven minutes later, Gronk got on the scoreboard again with a six-yard pass over the middle. The 3-time First Team All-Pro Tight End showed the fallibilities of the young Steelers secondary who failed to sufficiently cover the six-foot-six giant over several plays.
The offence also didn’t do their defence any favours, with new kicker Josh Scobee missing two field goal efforts in the first half, the first time since 1970 in Steelers history. Scobee would score the Steelers first points of the season with three seconds of the first half remaining.
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However, the reigning Champions would continue to add to their advantage after the break, with an 80-yard drive, finishing with a one-yard TD by Scott Chandler.
The Steelers would answer back, William Johnson pounding one in from the goal line after a big play from Antonio Brown earlier in the drive for 33 yards – Marcus Wheaton would convert a two-point conversion.
However, in the fourth quarter would end the Steelers momentum, a goal-line stop from the Patriots after pass interference gave the Steelers four chances at the one-yard line.
Scobee scored another field goal but without a quick turnaround the game was all but done for Ben Roethlisberger’s team.
Gronkowski completed his hat-trick of touchdowns with a one-yard catch following a bizarre play where Dion Lewis fumbled the ball on the goal line and on first glance looked to be recovered by Gronkowski for a TD – however, the scoring play was overturned.
Not all bad for Steelers
Antonio Brown would score a consolation touchdown with two seconds left in the game; however, it didn’t make much difference to the result.
There were a few shining lights for the Steelers, in the absence of suspended Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams picked up from the Carolina Panthers rushed for 127 yards and consistently found gaps.
Star wide receiver Antonio Brown put up 133 receiving yards and was no match for Malcolm Butler - the last minute star of Super Bowl 49.
Patriots look the part
The reigning champions usually look the part in week one of the regular season but the New England Patriots definitely showed they will be no pushovers in defending their NFL, AFC and AFC East titles this year.
Gronkowski is unstoppable when fully fit, Brady looked more than ready to write headlines with his on-field performance rather than controversies off it and Dion Lewis was an adequate starting running back following the departures of Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen to the two New Jersey teams and the suspension of LaGarette Blount for the opening games.
The Patriots fans even had time to goad NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell following the outcome of the Deflategate scandal, chanting, “Where is Roger” during a break in play during the fourth quarter.
Goodell did not make an appearance at the season opener after controversially suspending Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games during the 2015 offseason – the ruling was later overturned.