FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Here’s the situation: the New England Patriots are driving deep again and the opposing defense needs to make a stand. The Patriots come out with a formation that includes tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler.

Who do you cover?

Actually the better question might be: How do you cover them?

With the 6-foot-6 Gronkowski and the 6-foot-7 Chandler, the Patriots possess one of the NFL’s most formidable red zone offenses. And they gave the rest of the league a glimpse of what they can do in Thursday night’s 28-21 season-opening win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady threw four TD passes, all to his tight ends.

Gronkowksi, who is nearly unstoppable, caught three, on passes of 16, 6 and 1 yards. Chandler caught the other, a 1-yarder when he and Gronkowski lined up on the same side.

“Yeah, they’re tough matchups down there because obviously their size and their ability to get open in one-on-one coverage, so if you want to play zone we have a lot of options,” said Brady. “And when it’s one-on-one you’ve got such big targets.

“They’re big, they’re tough, they’re physical. Hopefully we can keep it going. Four-of-four in the red area is a good place to start.”

Brady recounted each of the four touchdown passes: “Confusion on the first one, mismatch on the one to Chandler, mismatch on the one to Gronk and then we took advantage of another (mismatch) on the little pop pass I threw over the top of everybody.”

Common theme: mismatches. It’s going to be that way all season for pass defenders against the Patriots.

Brady said as much when he said of Gronkowski, “He’s such a big target out there. He has a great catch radius so a lot of times, if I just put it up there close he comes down with it.”

In his sixth season with the Patriots, Gronkowski is regarded as the best tight end in football. He caught five passes Thursday for 94 yards (18.8 per catch), including a 52-yard reception when the Steelers somehow allowed him a free break off the line of scrimmage. His 16-yard touchdown pass came when the Steelers neglected to cover him.

“They’re a good team and they know how to get him open, and sometimes he was just in the right place at the right time,” said Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier. “Sometimes we just had a breakdown in coverage and he got the better of us.”

Gronkowski, who caught three touchdown passes for the fourth time (tying the team record with Randy Moss), often gets the better of defenses. His three touchdowns Thursday gave him 57 in his career – a phenomenal number when you consider that, because of injuries, he has played in just 66 games.

“He does a great job of executing, doing his job and doing it incredibly well,” said Chandler. “As an offense any time you have a guy doing his job well it takes pressure off everyone else.”

Case in point: Chandler’s TD catch. On the play, Chandler lined up in the slot to the left with Gronkowski split wide left.

At the snap, Gronkowski cut diagonally across the field as Brady threw to Chandler, who ran a drag route to the left sideline. He caught the ball, ran behind Gronkowski and reached the ball over the goal line before a defender could hit him.

Chandler, who signed with the Patriots on March 16 after four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, was one of those players they hated to face. In eight games against New England, Chandler caught 28 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns.

Although he caught only the one pass in his Patriots debut, it showed how dangerous he can be in the red zone. “I think we can do some things to make it tough on teams trying to do some things that make it tough on us,” said Chandler. “And we were able to capitalize on those situations.”

In 2014, the Patriots scored 39 touchdowns on 67 trips in the red zone (inside the opponents’ 20-yard line). Their 58.2 percent success rate was ninth-best in the NFL. Starting out 4 of 4 is pretty good.

“Gronk’s a beast,” said Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who caught a team-high 11 passes for 97 yards. “Chan … it’s great to have him on the team doing what he’s doing. All that’s going to help us.”

And hurt the opposition.