TEXANS LOSE TO PATS

11 observations from the Texans' 25-22 loss to the Patriots

Davis Mills had 3 TDs and no interceptions. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans saw a lead evaporate and turn into their fourth straight loss as the Patriots complete the comeback in Houston. Here are 11 observations.

1. David Culley turned a very positive first half for him into a net negative for the day with the way he operated in the second half of the loss. This was a loss that glaringly showed Culley's inexperience.

2. David Culley considered a fake punt at their own 36-yard line with a 13-point lead. The Texans had just forced a Patriots three-and-out and faked the fake punt, then saw their punter kick the ball off a teammate for zero net yards. The Patriots would score a field goal on the ensuing drive.

3. David Culley trusted his kicker in a spot he shouldn't have, and he burned a timeout to do it as well. Culley sent Ka'imi Fairbairn out for a 56-yard field goal in the second half after he failed to decide in a timely manner on kicking or keeping his offense on the field. Fairbairn is two weeks removed from returning from injury and has never made a field goal of that length in his career. Against the Panthers, the Texans punted from nearly the exact same spot on the field.

4. David Culley didn't let the Patriots score and cost his team a chance to send the game to overtime. Culley explained the Texans thought about letting the Patriots score but decided against that on the game-winning drive. Houston would get the ball back with 15 seconds left in the game needing a field goal. Culley also accepted a penalty that would have had the Texans needing a touchdown with nearly two minutes on the clock as opposed to the ultimate outcome.

5. David Culley postgame tried to explain the reasoning for not letting the Patriots score. The head coach's explanation was confusing. Culley credited a Patriots passing play as helping the Texans try to play defense, but New England ran the ball seven straight times before their game-winning field goal.

6. Ka'imi Fairbairn is the third-highest paid kicker on average salary. He missed two extra points and kicked a kickoff out of bounds while also missing the 56-yard attempt. Bill O'Brien paid Fairbairn with no rhyme or reason and the Texans might be stuck with him for now. David Culley said after the game he has given no thought to switching kickers.

7. Immense credit is due to the coaching of Tim Kelly. The offensive coordinator of the Texans pushed all the right buttons for most of the game before the Patriots tightened up and the offense started to stymie their own success. Kelly clearly had Davis Mills and the offense ready to attack a Patriots defense that was hot off a moral victory against Tom Brady.

8. Davis Mills played the best game of his post-high school career against the Patriots. The three touchdowns and no interceptions combined with 312 passing yards was a remarkable performance and turnaround from last week's debacle against the Bills. Mills was under control for most of the game, had command of the offense, and made solid decisions more than bad decisions. It was one of the more impressive performances for a rookie against a Patriots defense led by Bill Belichick.

9. Maliek Collins had a roughing the passer penalty that helped change the outcome of the game. With the game tied, the Texans had forced the Patriots to punt after a Mac Jones incomplete pass, but disaster struck. Collins was called for roughing the passer, his third of the season, and the Patriots turned that drive into the game-winning field goal.

10. Chris Moore played well with his elevation from the practice squad. Moore had a leaping catch that turned into a touchdown. He hauled in four other passes as well. Moore did drop a touchdown that forced the Texans into a field goal.

11. Davis Mills was a bright spot in what turned into a difficult day for the team. David Culley looked overwhelmed in closing out the game and the defense bent but broke enough for the Patriots to earn the win. A banged-up Colts team on the road next week makes the potential for this difficult stretch to continue very high.

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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