Tom Brady of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots directs his offence in a 33-3 season opening rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium
Los Angeles (AFP) - Tom Brady passed for three touchdowns and 341 yards as the New England Patriots began the defence of their Super Bowl title with a 33-3 rout of Pittsburgh in a bruising opening Sunday of the NFL season.
The 42-year-old Brady completed 24 of 36 passes and improved to 6-0 at home against the Steelers.
He threw two touchdown passes to Phillip Dorsett and one to Josh Gordon. Stephen Gostkowski added four field goals.
“The defence played great and gave us a lot of opportunities,” said Brady. “We made some big plays on the pass game.”
The Patriots, who held a pregame ceremony to celebrate their championship, started quickly leading 7-0 after the first quarter and 20-0 at halftime.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 27 of 47 for 276 passing yards, and an interception.
The win comes just days before the Patriots add Antonio Brown to their lineup. New England reportedly has guaranteed the wide receiver $9 million this season.
Brown, a four-time All-Pro and one of the league’s most dynamic pass catchers, is not eligible to be signed officially until Monday.
Brady said he hopes the Patriots can find a receiver role for Brown. “It is about getting him up to speed,” Brady said.
“He is a great player and we are excited to have him. I played against him for a long time.
“We will try to incorporate him into the lineup the best way we can.”
Elsewhere, reigning Most Valuable Player Patrick Mahomes threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a 40-26 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Sammy Watkins grabbed nine passes for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns, taking over as the top target for Chiefs quarterback Mahomes after Tyreek Hill departed with a shoulder injury days after he inked a three-year, $54 million (48.9 million euros) deal last week.
Hill was later transported to hospital with what Chiefs head trainer Rick Burkholder called a “sternoclavicular joint injury which is where your clavicle comes into your sternum”.
The news was possibly worse for the Jaguars, who lost quarterback Nick Foles to a broken left clavicle less than a quarter into his debut.
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said there was no timetable for Foles’s return after surgery expected on Monday.
“It was unfortunate,” Marrone said. “You’d really like to see how the game would’ve worked itself out with Nick.”
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks to pass in the Chiefs' 2019 season-opening NFL victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars
In his absence, rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns in an outstanding debut that still wasn’t enough.
“I was really proud of him for stepping up,” Foles said after the game, talking to reporters with his arm in a sling. “And I’m going to be here to help him any way possible.”
Los Angeles Rams safety Eric Weddle suffered a frightening head laceration in his team’s 30-27 win over the Panthers in Carolina.
Weddle was carted off the field in the first half to have treatment for the bloody wound and a concussion evaluation.
With less than six minutes left in the second half, Weddle attempted to tackle Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey as he rushed toward the right sideline.
McCaffrey tried to hurdle over Weddle and ended up catching him with a knee to the right side of his helmet.
- Ravens soar -
Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers hurdles Los Angeles Rams player Eric Weddle in the Rams' NFL season-opening victory over the Panthers
Early division clashes saw the Baltimore Ravens run riot in a 59-10 victory over the Dolphins in Miami, where Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson threw for a career-high 324 passing yards and a club-record five passing touchdowns. He connected on 17 of 20 passes for a club-record 85 percent completion rate.
The high-flying Ravens offense saw tight end Mark Andrews record eight catches for 108 yards – both career highs. Rookie wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown reeled in four catches for 147 yards, and two touchdowns.
In Philadelphia, the Eagles rallied for a 32-27 victory over NFC East rivals Washington, battling back from deficits of 17-0 and 20-7 with three straight second-half touchdowns and a field goal on four possessions.
There were a couple of other big comebacks, including for the Buffalo Bills, who rallied from a 16-0 deficit to beat the New York Jets 17-16 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals nearly finished an improbable comeback on the rookie’s debut, rallying from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the 24-24 at the end of the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals had two chances to win in overtime and so did the Lions, but all they could do was trade field goals and settle for a 27-27 tie.