Both scores came in the second quarter after a scoreless first—although familiar headset issues did present another interesting first-quarter storyline. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was the center of attention, as he took the field after having his four-game Deflategate suspension nullified by a federal judge earlier this month.
About four minutes into the second quarter, Brady connected with a wide-open Gronkowski on a first-and-10 from the Steelers’ 16-yard line. Gronkowski caught the pass, broke one tackle and crossed the goal line for the NFL’s first points of the season.
After a seven-play, 52-yard drive for the Steelers ended with the second missed field goal of the game by Josh Scobee, the Patriots drove nine plays and 64 yards for their second touchdown. On second-and-goal from the Steelers’ six-yard line, Brady stepped back after a play fake and lofted a high pass to Gronkowski in the back of the end zone. The tight end hauled in the pass over two Steelers defenders and managed to get both feet down inbounds.
Gronkowski’s third touchdown came in the fourth quarter to cap a seven-play, 79-yard drive. On third-and-goal from the Steelers’ one-yard line, Brady took a short dropback and threw a fade to Gronkowski along the left side of the end zone. Gronkowski caught the pass with ease over Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin.
- Mike Fiammetta