FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriotsmade the most of their opportunity Thursday night to remind the nation they’re the NFL’s most successful franchise of the past 15 years. They weren’t bad once the game began either.
One banner was unfurled on the field for each of the club’s four titles, owner Robert Kraft showed off the latest Lombardi Trophy and Tom Brady emerged from Deflategate with four touchdown passes in the Patriots’ 28-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener.
The Steelers cut the deficit in half with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown with 2 seconds to go. But time ran out on the ensuing onside kick.
Chants of “BRA-DY! BRA-DY!” erupted multiple times for the Patriots’ star quarterback, who at one point completed a franchise-record 19 consecutive passes and finished 25-of-32 for 288 yards, a week after a federal judge vacated his four-game suspension.
A chant of “WHERE IS ROGER?” also broke out as the Patriots put away the game in the fourth quarter – a mocking tribute to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who declined to attend the game, saying he’d be at Sunday’s Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears game instead.
Among those who did attend: NFL Players Association director DeMaurice Smith and Brady’s lead attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, who took a sort of victory lap around the field before the game.
It was a triumphant night in stark contrast to the controversy that has circled the Patriots – who also were fined $1 million and docked two draft picks by the NFL for an alleged scheme to deflate footballs – since their triumph over the Seattle Seahawks inSuper Bowl XLIX.
Massachusetts band Dropkick Murphys performed and fireworks left a haze of smoke over the field before Kraft emerged from a tunnel and joined former Patriots Willie McGinestTy Law and Troy Brown, who held the other Lombardis on a small stage as the crowd roared.
Many fans wore ponchos to combat a downpour that hit Thursday afternoon and continued as Brady took the field for warm-ups, pumping his fist and playing to the crowd. But Mother Nature wasn’t putting a damper on this party, and it didn’t slow the Patriots offense much either.
Three of Brady’s touchdown passes went to all-pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, the last a 1-yard score with 9:20 to go set up by a 52-yard completion to Gronkowski after the Steelers had trimmed New England’s 18-point lead to seven.
The Steelers offense moved the football well despite the absence of suspended running back Le’Veon Bell and center Maurkice Pouncey. But newly acquired kickerJosh Scobee missed two field goals, Darrius Heyward-Bey botched a sure touchdown by stepping out of bounds and a Pittsburgh defense debuting under new coordinator Keith Butler seemed lost at times.
Patriots safety Duron Harmon’s interception on a deep ball Roethlisberger intended for Heyward-Bey spoiled the Steelers’ last best chance with 7 minutes to go. One small step towards the Patriots’ fifth title and another party this time next year complete.​

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots spike Steelers in opener

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السبت، 12 سبتمبر، 2015

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