PATRIOTS 27, TEXANS 20

Texans open the season with a tough road loss to the Patriots

It was a rough day for Deshaun Watson. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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.

 

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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