Tom Brady moved past a stormy offseason throwing four touchdowns as the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots scored a season-opening 28-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in front of a frenzied home crowd.
Brady, whose status for the first four games of the season was in doubt until last week because of an NFL-imposed "Deflategate" ban, led his team onto the field to rousing cheers before putting on his silver helmet and delivering a stellar performance.
"It was a pretty special night so I was excited. Our whole team was excited," the 38-year-old quarterback told reporters.
"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."
It was the first time Patriots supporters were able to shower Brady with adulation since a federal judge vacated his four-game ban a week ago as part of the "Deflategate" saga that engulfed the nation's most popular sport over the last nine months.
Earlier this month, Brady's "Deflategate" suspension was thrown out by a federal judge in New York, following a seven-month standoff between the NFL and its players union.
US District Judge Richard Berman vacated NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's decision in July to uphold Brady's four-game suspensionover his alleged role in a scheme to deflate footballs used during a January playoff victory.