Texans 28, Patriots 22

Finally, Texans knock off Patriots with one of the most impressive, complete performances of the season

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The Texans pulled off one of the biggest regular season wins in their history, finally beating the New England Patriots 28-22 on Sunday night football. It was one of their most impressive performances in a long time, and the game was not as close as the final score. Here is how it all played out:

Offense

Positives: Deshaun Watson was terrific against the best defense in football. He completed 18 of 25 passes for 234 yards, three touchdowns and ran for another on one of the more awesome trick plays you will ever see. The best part? No turnovers. Duke Johnson was a weapon both running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield...They scored a first-quarter touchdown for the first time since Oct. 27 against the Raiders, thanks to an early interception. Their second touchdown drive was a thing of beauty, a 13-play, 88 yarder. That the Texans had two long drives against a Patriots defense that was on a historic pace was quite the accomplishment.

Negatives: They continue to struggle on first possessions of games, going three and out on their first try in this one; they have scored just three points on 12 opening drives this season. Once again, they had trouble protecting Watson, who was sacked three times and narrowly avoided a couple others. Will Fuller dropped a touchdown pass in the third quarter. Other than that, not many complaints.

Defense

Positives: Despite some struggles in the second half, the defense had one of its best games of the season. They made life miserable for Tom Brady, the secondary played very well, and they came up with play after play. Bradley Roby announced his return with authority, picking off Brady to set up the Texans first touchdown. He also got a dumb 15-yard penalty afterward, but the offense bailed him out. He had another interception, but it was erased by a holding call on him. But later that same series, he sacked Brady on a a blitz. They sacked Brady three times and held him to barely over 50 percent passing on the game.

Negatives: On the Patriots first touchdown drive, the Texans were a mess. They gave up a third and 17, gave up a first down on first and 30 and then failed to cover James White on the touchdown. For a defense that had been terrific all night, the drive was a disaster. The Patriots added two garbage time touchdowns but it was too little too late. Still, whatever Romeo Crennel is doing with the prevent defense needs to stop. They basically folded up as though the game was over and let the Patriots have two easy scores. It didn't matter, but it has before this season and likely will again.

The bottom line...

This was a terrific win for the Texans. Bill Belichick was 5-0 against O'Brien before Sunday night's game. The Texans had an excellent game plan, executed it well, and moved to 8-4 on the season, keeping pace with the Chiefs for the three seed and staying a game ahead of surging Tennessee. The Texans also checked off another box on the season. They beat a good team on the road in Kansas City. They beat a Colts team that has had their number. And finally, they have slain the Patriots dragon. In a primetime game, no less. They have two almost gift wins left on the schedule, so 10-6 would get them at least a wild card. The Ravens game aside, this team is really playing well and will only get better. The secondary, a weakness to start the season, has become a strength, and Watson is improving every week. Also, some credit to O'Brien and Crennel, who had terrific game plans (up until Crennel started up his prevent defense).

This was just a great all-around win, and the Texans are now 19-6 in their last 25 games. That's strong.

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As our lockdown continues, we are still doing our best to provide content to hopefully take your mind off of things. SportsMap will provide daily content for as long as possible.

Fortunately the Texans have given us plenty of ammunition.

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Now, back to the Texans. This is not a Bill O'Brien hit piece. My opinion of him is well known. Instead I wanted to reach out to the hardcore fan base and share their opinions.

The DeAndre Hopkins trade has angered fans more than anything I have seen in a long time. Maybe it is the added stress of the world falling apart, but fans rightly lost their minds. However, the daunting issue that followed is the way quarterback Deshaun Watson reacted. His cryptic tweets made it clear he was not happy with the deal.

It also has led to speculation that Watson himself could be traded.

Some sites have even gone so far as to speculate as to what a trade would like like. While such a move seems improbable, after O'Brien's deal to ship out Hopkins, anything seems possible. And while the Hopkins trade was a body blow, dealing Watson could be the knockout punch for a lot of fans.

However, there is a contingent that will stick with the team no matter what. I reached out to several of them to get their opinion of a potential Watson trade. The most common responses:

"It would suck, but this is my team ride or die."

"If they think it's the best thing for the franchise."

And even, "I trust Bill O'Brien."

I am not here to judge or argue. I have a lot of respect for hardcore Texans fans who support their team no matter what. I merely wanted to gauge what their response would be should the unthinkable happen.

Several were more than happy to share their opinions publicly, but I chose to keep everyone anonymous to prevent them from getting the inevitable Twitter "how the hell can you think that" responses. You can always attack me with that. I've made no bones about my thoughts on the Texans GM/coach. I wanted to give the team's most dedicated supporters a voice.

I was surprised there were a few who are not sold on Watson.

"If he decides to trade Watson, it is because he doesn't think he can win with him. Maybe people will realize Watson is just not that good. O'Brien had similar success with a lot of other quarterbacks. He even made the playoffs with Brock Osweiler."

The one response that really resonated - and maybe in these times we can all relate - was that hardcore fandom for many of them is about more than the team.

"My husband and I have had season tickets for years. We have sat with the same people, became friends, tailgated and traveled to road games together. For us it is about camaraderie, friendship, and the Texans have given us that. We would not give that up for anything. We just have to hope they do the right thing, but we will be there no matter what."

To me, that is the best explanation. There are relationships we all have around different things, and they are important. I've developed similar friendships through poker, horse racing, basketball and several other things over the years. Why not around a sports team?

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail, and the team will move on with Watson as its quarterback. If not, there is a contingent out there that will stick with the team no matter what. Those fans deserve a voice so that's what I have given them here in hopes that maybe those of us who don't get it at least understand where they are coming from.

If we ever get back to normal, these fans will still be at games, tailgating, cheering and having a good time. We should not fault that, just as they should accept that some fans will be up in arms.

It will be interesting to see how things play out over the next few months. Hell, we might not even have NFL football this year. O'Brien has undoubtedly lost some of the fan base, but it is hard to see how much. But we know there are always fans who stick with it no matter what.

Hopefully this gives some insight into why.



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