Opening the 2015 NFL regular season, the New England Patriots began their Super Bowl defense successfully on Thursday night with a 28-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both offenses seemingly moved the ball at will throughout the contest, with the defensive units struggling for most of the night.
However, both teams went scoreless in the first quarter, with the Steelers’ opening possession being the highlight. Ben Roethlisberger led his offense down the field, but they shot themselves in the foot with spotty play-calling and poor penalties. That Steelers’ opening possession ended when Josh Scobee missed a 44- yard field goal.
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Scobee also missed a 46-yard field goal in the second quarter, sandwiched between two Patriots’ drives that ended in Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski touchdown passes. The Patriots led by a score of 14-3 heading into halftime, and they never looked back.
Brady led a methodical nine-play, 80 yard drive right out of the half which was capped off by a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Scott Chandler. The Steelers fought hard to make it a close game, scoring on a Will Johnson one-yard run in their first drive of the second half, but Brady and the Patriots’ offense were simply too much for the Steelers throughout the night.
Brady and Gronkowski were the stars in this one. The Patriots’ quarterback finished with 288 passing yards and four touchdowns on 25-of-32 passing. He did not throw an interception. Gronkowski was his primary target, especially in the red zone, finishing with five receptions for 94 yards and three touchdowns.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman also stood out for his 11-reception, 97-yard performance, and little-known running back Dion Lewis looked great as well. Lewis had 69 yards on 15 carries (4.6 YPC average), and also chipped in to the passing game with four receptions for 51 yards.
Roethlisberger led the way for Pittsburgh completing 26-of-38 passes for 351 yards, one touchdown, but also one interception. As usual, Antonio Brown was his main target in the passing game, as Brown finished the game with nine receptions for 133 yards and one touchdown. DeAngelo Williams stepped in nicely for the suspended Le’Veon Bell, as he rushed for 127 yards on 21 carries.
More than just the scoring plays or individual numbers, there were plenty of performances on the field Thursday night that will help shape the seasons for both of these teams. When it comes down to it, this is only one game of many, but there is plenty to take away from this game from both sides.
In fact, let’s take a look at these specific situations. Here are the top five takeaways from the Patriots’ opening night victory over the Steelers.