It takes a lot to be able to say that this was one of the best games of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s career, but opening night of the NFL season falls into that category.
Brady was 25-of-32, threw four touchdown passes and controlled the game from start to finish in a 28-21 win.
It was the 18th four-touchdown, no-interception game of Brady's career, matching the most in NFL history. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are the other quarterbacks with 18 such games.
Elias notes that Brady's 161 wins as a starter are the most all time for one team, one more than Brett Favre had for the Packers.
Good at everything
This was a night in which Brady did just about everything right. His primary call was to throw short. He completed 20 of 24 passes thrown 10 yards or fewer downfield for 172 yards (including all four touchdowns).
Where Brady was at his best was in picking apart the Steelers blitz. He went 8-of-10 for 63 yards against five or more pass-rushers, and the eight completions included all four of his touchdowns.
The last time Brady had four touchdowns against five pass rushers was in the 59-0 rout of the Titans in 2009.
The night started with a super-efficient first half in which Brady completed 88 percent of his passes. It was his second-best completion percentage in an opening half (minimum 15 attempts) surpassed only by an 89 percent effort against the Colts in 2003.
On target to Gronk
Rob Gronkowski had his third career three-touchdown game. That’s one shy of Randy Moss’ team record.
Gronkowski became the first player in NFL history to record multiple games of three touchdown receptions against the Steelers.
Gronkowski also tied his career-best with a 52-yard reception. The last time he had a catch of that length was in 2011.
As good as Brady was in throwing to Gronkowski (5-for-8, 94 yards), he was even better looking to Julian Edelman. Brady completed 11 of 12 targets for 97 yards and seven first downs when targeting Edelman.
What are some of Brady’s bests?
Brady had a chance at his best game in terms of completion percentage, but after a string of 19 straight completed passes came to an end, a few incompletions cost him a chance at that. His best was 88.5 percent against the Jaguars in 2009.
Brady’s career high for yardage also came in a season opener. He threw for 517 yards and four touchdowns on 32-of-48 passing in a 38-24 win over the Dolphins.
Brady has a pair of six-touchdown games. He threw for six in 2007 against the Dolphins on a day in which he went 21-of-25 for 354 yards. He also had six on 29-of-34 passing (for 380 yards) in the previously mentioned against the Titans in 2009.
He’s had two games with a 99 Total QBR or better in the 10 seasons for which we have data. His best is a 99.8 in that season opener against the Dolphins in 2007. He also had a 99.3 in a 56-10 win over the Bills later that season.