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.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
The Houston Texans seem to be focused on repairing their image. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

"It's a new day, yes it is!" That's how the theme song from one of my all time favorite wrestling tag teams/groups starts. One of my favorite lines says "Can't change the past/Gotta let it unfold." If this doesn't apply to the 2022 Houston Texans, I don't know what does.

Over the last few years, the Texans have been a laughingstock. From a comedy of errors under Bill O'Brien, to Cal McNair's reputation as Tommy Boy, Jack Easterby was once thought to be some sort of Boogeyman, to the fans finally having had enough and fighting back with their wallets. Things haven't been smooth sailing on Kirby Drive. It started to look like a never-ending rainy day for a while. Then it happened. Nick Caserio came in riding his white horse and the weather started clearing up.

Initially, some were still skeptical, yours truly included. We had every right to feel that way. He was yet another in a line from New England. "Patriots South" was beginning to look like a real thing, even though Cal denied it. Before he could get settled, his franchise quarterback wanted out and was also found out to be an alleged pervert. That's when Caserio started to push all the right buttons.

Some people thrive under pressure. Some crumble worse than a dry ass Popeye's biscuit. Caserio is one of the ones that has managed to make coals into diamonds. Armed with a bad cap situation, devoid of draft picks in his first draft, a talented QB who wants out, and an owner trying his best to do the right things, he navigated it all masterfully so far. He traded Watson for a nice haul and used those picks in this past draft to address some concerns. Knowing the QB talent was better in the upcoming draft, he's giving Davis Mills an opportunity to show what he's got. Their collective appearance on The Pat McAfee Show recently was to show the national media something we here in Houston see every day: there are new faces of this franchise, and it's headed in the right direction.

While Mills still has to prove he can be the franchise QB, Caserio has done a good job of putting talent around him to place him in a position to succeed. If Mills is a hit, the team can use the draft capital to improve other areas of the team, and Caserio has another feather in his cap. If Mill isn't "the guy", the team will draft one of the top prospects and move on. Third round QBs that don't work out aren't seen as failures per se because expectations aren't as high. However, I believe Mills' floor is a career backup and he still holds value even if he isn't seen as a starter. Besides, who wouldn't want a guy who went to Stanford in the QB room?

Easterby has faded into the background after being thrust into the spotlight. He seems to have been thrown in the ring with a grizzly bear and come out unscathed. Lots of us were wrong about him. I now believe he was forced into a situation he wasn't prepared for, made the best he could out of it, and is now settling back into the role he originally sought out, which is the owner's right-hand man and a team/player development type of guy.

The person who deserves just as much, if not more, credit than Caserio is Cal. He went from Tommy Boy to Boss Hog in the matter of a year or so. The story of him playing video games sitting on the floor of his office fed into the perception of him being a doofus. Now, he's literally kissing babies, handing out shorts, and grilling for the fans. He's been seen at the forefront of food/water drives, as well as being very visible and accessible to fans at training camp.

These are the new faces of this franchise moving forward. Look for newer players to take some of their places when their play starts to equal wins for this team. "Get us back on the right road/On the right track/On the right flow (That’s right)/Live in the future that we all know."

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome