Gronk, Brady star in win over Steelers

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Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns, three to favourite target Rob Gronkowski, as the New England Patriots began the NFL season with a 28-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brady was available to start for the defending champions after the four-game suspension he was given by the NFL following the 'deflategate' scandal was overturned by a federal judge a week ago.

And, despite constant rain at Gillette Stadium, Brady duly produced a brilliant display to pick apart the Steelers' defence, setting a franchise record at one point with 19 consecutive completions.

He finished with 288 yards and now has 23 games with four or more touchdown passes, tied for third all-time with Brett Favre.

Brady opened the scoring early in the second quarter when he capped a 13-play, 90-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to All-Pro tight-end Gronkowski.

The pair were at it again later in the quarter, Brady connecting with Gronkowski from six yards out this time.

And it was 21-3 early in the third quarter when Brady found another tight end, Scott Chandler, from a yard out at the end of another efficient drive.

Pittsburgh hit back when Will Johnson went over from a yard out and they added a two-point conversion when Ben Roethlisberger hit Markus Wheaton.

With New England threatening again in the final quarter, running back Dion Lewis fumbled at the Steelers' one-yard line, but Gronkowski was there to recover and then grabbed his third touchdown catch of the night, making it 28-14 to the hosts.

Roethlisberger threw for 351 yards in a losing cause for the Steelers, 133 of them to Antonio Brown, who caught a consolation 11-yard touchdown pass to complete the scoring with seconds left.

Brady said afterwards: "It was a pretty special night so I was excited, our whole team was excited.

"It is always fun getting out there and getting the opportunity to go play and we took advantage of it, it was a good win. I thought our guys played hard."

Gronkowski said of Brady: "He was an unbelievable performer tonight, he's our leader. He's just a great player and it's fun playing with him."