PATRIOTS 27, TEXANS 20
Texans open the season with a tough road loss to the Patriots
Expectations were shattered in Foxboro today when the Texans suffered a 27-20 loss to open the season at the hands of Tom Brady and the Patriots. It was nowhere near the shootout a lot of people thought it would be as Deshaun Watson and the Texans looked inconsistent for most of the game and the offensive line allowed him to face pressure nearly every play.
Defensively, Houston has something to be optimistic about. Other than an inability to cover Rob Gronkowski they put a lot of pressure on Tom Brady and forced two turnovers by the Patriots offense (three total, including a muffed punt). New England still put up almost 400 yards of offense, but the scoreboard didn’t look as bad as it could have.
It started wrong early for Houston when their first play from scrimmage was a fumble on the handoff from Watson to Lamar Miller on a run pass option. The Patriots recovered and with only 19-yards to go, Brady hit Gronkowski for the early touchdown. It was the first of his 7 catches for 123 yards as the Texan defense had no answer for him over the middle of the field.
For Houston, it was a struggle offensively. They managed only 134 total yards in the 1st half on their way to a 21-6 deficit. A crucial sequence near the end of the half resulted in a point swing that may have been the difference in the game. On 2nd and 6 from the New England 41-yard line Brady found Gronkowski over the middle for 28 yards. It was called a catch, but video showed the ball moving around on the ground. Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien was caught waiting for the booth review and decided not to call a time out to force the issue. The play stood, and the Patriots finished the drive with a touchdown to Phillip Dorsett.
The Texans defense held the Patriots to only 6 points in the second half, but the offense just couldn’t get anything going. Bill Belichick did what he does best by shutting down DeAndre Hopkins who, despite Houston’s best efforts; managed only 64 yards and no touchdowns. Deshaun Watson was sacked 3 times, fumbled once and threw an interception. He managed only 176 yards passing on the day and one touchdown.
Defensively, Tom Brady only took two sacks, both by D.J. Reader up the middle. J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus managed only 6 tackles between the three of them. Not ideal, but a sign that Belichick had a better game plan than Bill O’Brien.
Houston managed to cut the lead to 11 points near the end of the third quarter with a 68-yard drive and a touchdown run by Alfred Blue. They brought more excitement near the end of the 4th quarter when New England’s Riley McCarron muffed a punt at the Houston 14-yard line. Watson was able to capitalize with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington to get it within one score.
At the end of the day, it was too much to overcome. New England was able to control the clock and hold on to the lead. Houston’s defense managed the get the ball back but with under a minute to play but it wasn’t enough time for Watson to make the magic happen. They started the final drive from the 1-yard line with 43 seconds left in the game. They couldn’t move it farther than their own 43-yard line and the game ended with a 7-point road loss.
This wasn’t a great game for the Texans. Offensively they couldn’t find rhythm and defensively they were forced into a lot of time on the field. The Texans just can’t overcome the Patriots and will start the season with a loss. It’s tough to go on the road to New England and they made a great comeback effort, but they still have a long way to go.