Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers on opening night last night.
The Patriots started things with a celebration, unveiling their fourth Super Bowl Banner, and then ended the night in celebration as they defeated the Steelers, 28-21.
The Patriots started three rookies on the offensive line to replace Ryan Wendell and Bryan Stork.
They didn’t play like rookies for most of the night.
David Andrews, the rookie center, had the best night of the offensive linemen. He didn’t botch a snap, or snap one over Brady’s head, and he had excellent push on the Steelers all night. One thing is for sure after last night’s win, the Pats have nice depth under center with Stork and Andrews, and that is a comforting thing to know. Tre Jackson fared well, and Shaq Mason did really well, for a rookie. Yeah, they can get better, but what a night for the youngsters. Brady had good movement in the pocket to help the OL out and the ball was quickly out of his hands to help the line out. It all worked together perfectly against the Steelers.
Tom Brady relied on the guys he trusts most, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.
RB Dion Lewis was a nice surprise, getting the start at RB and seeming to be the pass-catcher for the Pats out of the backfield. He did really good last night. Aaron Dobson, when he was on the field, was mostly just a guy out there, because somebody had to stand where LaFell would have. Brady wasn’t going to him very often, just 1 catch for 9 yards. Amendola had a nice catch on a deep pass from Brady and could’ve had two, but Brady missed the first throw to Amendola. Brady came back to that play later on, and threw it perfectly the 2nd time around. That was it for Danny. Brady mostly played pitch and catch with Edelman and Gronk.
Edelman and Gronk were lights out. Edelman caught 11 passes and Gronk caught 3 touchdowns. Brady was the same ole Super Bowl MVP we all know and love, tossing four touchdowns.
The defense of the Patriots, have much to work on. It wasn’t very pretty, but it was a very effective night for the defense.
They were a bend not break bunch, but the run defense was a little too shaky against a backup running back, who granted has talent. Williams racked up 127 yards on 21 attempts. The Patriots did lose Dominique Easley earlier in the game.
Malcolm Butler, making his first start, having to cover Brown, did an okay job. He held his own for most of the game, but when Brown caught the ball, several times was wide open. There were two or three catches by Brown where Butler was in great coverage. He can do better, but it was a good night for the youngster. Brown caught 9 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came with 2 seconds left. The defense only gave up 14 points for almost the entire game, the last touchdown coming with just seconds left when the game was decided.
CB Bradley Fletcher was up and down against Heyward-Bey, giving up 4 catches for 58 yards. Fletcher didn’t turn his head on one deep completion, and on others just blew the coverage or got burned badly. He can do MUCH better. Tarell Brown had a pretty solid night overall. Heath Miller had a pretty good night, he didn’t do any real damage, but still going forward the Pats need to do a better job of stopping the tight end. The pass rush was a no show last night, with Hightower and Sheard each getting a sack. Rookie Malcom Brown was credited with a sack as well. Blitzing seemed to be the most effective way to get pressure. But, much to work on defensively for the Patriots, but for the first night, it wasn’t terrible.
The game remained scoreless in the first, due to the Steelers kicker Josh Scobee missing a 44 yarder.
Tom Brady would connect with Gronk on a 16 yard touchdown in the 2nd to go up 7-0. Edelman was the main target for most of the drive.
The Steelers marched back up the field in an attempt to answer the Patriots score, but Josh Scobee missed another field goal. This time a 46 yard attempt.
The Patriots would march up the field after the failed field goal on a time, consuming drive where Brady relied on Lewis a lot, and then he would hit Gronk for a 6 yard score.
The halftime score would be 14-3 in favor of the Champs, after the Steelers finally connected on a 44 yard field goal which was led by Brown’s 37 yard reception.
To begin the 3rd, the Pats would easily go up the field where Lewis did a lot of damage. Brady would hit Chandler for the 1 yard touchdown.
After that, relying on the legs of Williams, the Steelers scored a touchdown running the rock with Johnson and then Big Ben converted a 2 point conversion, to bring the game to 11-21.
To begin the 4th, the Steelers were on the goal line, but after a false start, the Patriots held the Steelers to the to a 24 yard Scobee field goal, to bring the tally to 14-21.
The Pats, however, delivered in clutch time, when Brady drove the team up the field and connected with Gronk again for the touchdown. It was a 1 yard throw and catch. The Pats went up 28-14 with under 10 minutes to play. The touchdown was set up by a 52 yard gain by Gronk, after the defense left him wide open.
The defense shut down the Steelers by forcing a 3 and out and then Duron Harmon intercepted a deep pass attempt by Big Ben. The Pats would run a lot of time off the clock to give the Steelers no real chance of winning. The Steelers would score again with 2 seconds left, bringing us to the final tally of 21-28.
Tom Brady earned his 161 career win with the Patriots, breaking Brett Farve’s record for most wins with the same team.
QB Tom Brady: 25/32 for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns.
RB Dion Lewis: 15 rushing attempts for 69 yards. 4 catches for 51 yards and 1 fumble.
WR Julian Edelman: 11 receptions for 97 yards. 1 rushing attempt for 9 yards.
WR Danny Amendola: 2 receptions for 24 yards.
TE Rob Gronkowski: 5 catches for 94 yards and 3 touchdowns. 1 Fumble recovery.
TE Scott Chandler: 1 reception for 1 yard and 1 touchdown.
FS Duron Harmon: 3 tackles and 1 interception.
LB Dont’a Hightower: 8 tackles and 1 sack.
GAME MVP: TE Rob Gronkowski.
Gronk dominated the Steelers defense, who earlier in the week thought they had a way to stop the All-Pro tight end. They just couldn’t cover him, and more than once just left him open. The Brady needed his guys to step up to help him out last night, and Gronk did just that. Without Gronk, the game could have gone in a different direction.