By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - The New England Patriots suffered a shock 33-20 defeat to the Miami Dolphins on the opening Sunday of the NFL season while Atlanta beat the New Orleans Saints 37-34 in an overtime thriller.
The Pittsburgh Steelers survived a brave comeback from the Cleveland Browns to win 30-27 with a last-second field goal and there were week one wins for the Houston Texans and the New York Jets.
For Tom Brady and the Patriots the only solace from their first opening game defeat since 2003 will be the reminder that eleven years ago they bounced back to win the Super Bowl.
But if quarterback Brady wants to get his hands on the Lombardi Trophy again this season he will need better protection than he received against a surprisingly aggressive Miami defense.
The Patriots led 20-10 at halftime, Rob Gronkowski marking his return from injury with a six-yard touchdown reception.
But Miami were too much for Bill Belichick’s team after the break with their pass rush dominant and their running game effective.
The Dolphins scored 23 unanswered points including a Mike Wallace pass reception in the third quarter and a Knowshon Moreno rushing score in the fourth.
Brady was sacked four times including two strip sacks from Cameron Wake that shifted the momentum in Miami’s direction.
(Editing by Gene Cherry)