The New England Patriots have made the perfect start to the new NFL season by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21 at the Gillette Stadium.
After a summer dominated by the deflategate saga, it was a pleasing evening for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady as they began the long road to Super Bowl 50.
Pittsburgh were halted 44 yards from the line in their opening drive, but kicker Josh Scobee, who arrived from the Jacksonville Jaguars in the summer, was wayward with his first effort as a member of the Steelers.
It was just the start of a disappointing opening quarter for both sides as Brady and Ben Roethlisberger both regularly found receivers without either offense reaching the endzone.
A scoreless opening 15 minutes was followed by a dominant second-quarter display from the Super Bowl winners, who got on the board first with a familiar combination as Brady found an open Rob Gronkowski and he punished a sloppy defensive play from Pittsburgh to score the first points of the season.
Scobee's frustrating start with his new side continued when he missed the chance to reduce the deficit with a 46-yard field goal attempt which drifted wide.
The Patriots took charge of the match on the next drive as Brady took his side close to the endzone, before faking a handoff to send a high pass to the waiting Gronkowski.
It was third time lucky for Scobee as he converted with a field goal just before the half-time interval, but the New England lead was extended to 18 early in the third quarter when Scott Chandler capitalised on the attention given to Gronkowski to score his first touchdown as a Patriot.
After showing signs of improving offense, Will Johnson kept the Steelers alive by forcing his way into the endzone at the third attempt after a long drive, before Roethlisberger secured a two-point conversion by picking out Markus Wheaton.
Scobee added another field goal at the start of the fourth quarter, but Pittsburgh's defensive frailties continued to create chances for Brady, who was in the mood to capitalise after finally moving on from the deflategate saga.
Gronkowski continued his own impressive evening by recovering the ball a few inches away from the endzone after Dion Lewis had fumbled it on the way to the line.
A fourth touchdown pass from Brady followed a few moments later as Gronkowski celebrated for the third time after peeling away into space.
Pittsburgh's challenge was effectively ended by Gronkowski's third touchdown, and with the pressure on Roethlisberger to spark a comeback, the Steelers quarterback was picked off when Duron Harmon intercepted a long pass intended for Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Roethlisberger would get another drive in the closing stages, and he managed to just evade the hands of Malcolm Butler to find Antonio Brown with two seconds left on the clock but it proved to be no more than a consolation score for the defeated visitors.