By Jay Skurski
NEWS SPORTS REPORTER
1. Tom Brady didn’t miss a beat in Week One. With his four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate overturned, Brady took the field with the Patriots on Thursday night in the NFL season opener against Pittsburgh and proceeded to surgically carve up the Steelers. He finished the game 25 of 32 for 288 yards and four touchdowns – one of which went to old friend Scott Chandler – in a 28-21 victory. A motivated Brady is bad news for the rest of the NFL.
2. Rob Gronkowski showed why the preseason is a farce. The Amherst native didn’t play in any of New England’s four exhibition games, but showed up Thursday against the Steelers and caught five passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a key fumble recovery and played every snap, getting the game ball from coach Bill Belichick. Gronk has been a nightmare for the Bills to cover in his career, with nine touchdown catches in just seven games.
3. Running back LeGarrette Blount will make his season debut. The Patriots’ running back sat out the season opener because of a one-game suspension. In his absence, Dion Lewis carried 15 times for 69 yards and added another 51 yards on four receptions. Lewis looked to be out of football after being released by the Cleveland Browns at the end of last season, but has so far made the most of his chance with the Patriots. To make room for Blount on their roster, the Patriots cut linebacker Eric Martin.
4. They are very young up front. The Patriots start three rookies on their offensive line in center David Andrews, right guard Tre’ Jackson and left guard Shaq Mason. While that may be a cause for concern against the Bills’ defensive line next weekend, the unit held up well in Week One. Brady was sacked just twice, and while the Patriots’ 80 rushing yards isn’t an eye-popping total by any means, it was enough to keep Pittsburgh honest on defense. With Brady, that’s good enough.
5. Another scandal comes and goes. After an offseason dominated by Deflategate, it boggles the mind the Patriots could possibly find themselves in another controversy in the first week of the season. That’s what happened after the opener, though, when Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Pittsburgh’s headsets picked up New England’s radio broadcast for most of the first half. Tomlin threw gas on the fire by saying communication problems are “always the case” when playing at Gillette Stadium. The NFL moved quickly to eliminate any possible controversy, though, by releasing a statement that said the issue “involved no manipulation by any individual and that the Patriots had nothing to do with it.”