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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Dameon Pierce was a bright spot for the Texans on Saturday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans played a football game for the first time since January on Saturday, and while it was only the preseason, there were some things that should create a sense of optimism for fans.

One of those groups is none other than the running back position, which is unfamiliar territory for Texans fans to have any hope about that unit.

Since the turn of the new decade, the running back group has been abysmal for Houston, ranking among the bottom in the NFL, including 31st in 2020 and 32nd in 2021. Entering into the 2022 season, it seems like the tide has begun to shift, and that is due to rookie running back Dameon Pierce, who impressed in his first outing ever in a Houston uniform.

Pierce garnered some attention with his 49-yard rushing performance, including a 20-yard run in the second quarter. The fourth-round pick out of Florida looked like he was gliding in between the land of giants at times as he shifted through his own offensive linemen and opposing defenders.

He also displayed his ability to get to the edge and turn the corner on the outside as well, something that not many Houston backs have been able to do over the last few seasons.

Now it is early, and after one preseason game, there should be no reason to crown Pierce the second coming of Arian Foster. But the reason Houston fans should have optimism when it comes to the running backs is because of the potential Pierce has shown.

In 2021, Houston’s best running back for most of the season was Mark Ingram, and he spent half of the year with, coincidentally, the New Orleans Saints.

Running back Rex Burkhead took charge towards the tail end of the season, and finished as the team’s leading rusher with only 427 yards for the entire campaign. Pierce got roughly one-eighth of that in limited action against the Saints.

Running back Marlon Mack started the game for Houston. While he only finished with a lackluster six yards on three carries, it is also worth noting that starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil, starting center Justin Britt and guard Kenyon Green all did not play for the Texans against the Saints.

Burkhead is still on the roster. He also did not play against New Orleans, but going back to 2021, he proved that he still has the capability to make an impact on games in spurts.

With both Mack and Burkhead good veterans to help Pierce’s development throughout his rookie season, and the small sample the young back has put on film, there is reason to be enthusiastic about Houston’s running back group for 2022.

After all, the bar has been set pretty low following the past two seasons. The silver lining about hitting rock bottom is that eventually you can only go up.

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