TEXANS LOSE TO PATS
11 observations from the Texans' 25-22 loss to the Patriots
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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