The Steelers won the toss and elected to receive, getting good field position when Felix Jones returned the kickoff 40 yards to the 40-yard line. They took the ball down to the Patriots 36-yard line, but Ben Roethlisberger was sacked by Rob Ninkovich, forcing a fumble the Patriots recovered.
After exchanging three-and-out possessions, the Patriots got the ball and quarterback Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for completions of 11, 34 and 27 yards for a first down at the 10-yard line. Stevan Ridley took it for three yards, and Brady hit Gronkowski for a six-yard gain to the one-yard line. On fourth-and-one Brandon Bolden was stopped short of the goal line, but a defensive offside call on Troy Polamalu gave them another shot at the end zone. The defense came up huge, stopping Ridley for no gain.
The Steelers took over deep in their own territory, and under pressure Roethlisberger was intercepted at the Steelers 34-yard line. The Patriots took advantage, with Brady hitting Danny Amendola for a 34-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
At the end of the first quarter, Steelers 0, Patriots 7.
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