Texans 28, Patriots 22
Texans vs Patriots: Good, bad and ugly
In a Sunday Night Football matchup, the Texans managed to impress a lot of people with a huge win over the Patriots. They handed the Patriots their second loss of the season. Here are my observations:
-Deshaun Watson outdueled Tom Brady. Sure the defenses play a major part in this, but it's clear who won this battle and it's not even close. He also knows magic or something. Former Texan John Simon had him wrapped up and was dragging him down, but Watson managed to escape, throw the ball away, and keep 2nd down at 10 yards instead of 20 or more. That drive ended in a touchdown some 10 plays later.
-The defense had Brady so frustrated, he was visibly shook and seen yelling at teammates after their second possession. While the Patriots' offense hasn't been anything to write home about this season, it was still an impressive performance by a unit that lost JJ Watt for the season, traded Jadeveon Clowney, and has resembled a MASH unit at points this season. Not only did they sack Brady three times, they also picked him off once.
-Bill O'Brien deserves some credit. He went up against Bill Belichick, his mentor of sorts, and came out a winner. This doesn't happen often when it comes to Belichick's coaching tree. O'Brien had a great gameplan on both sides of the ball. Although the reverse option with Watson and DeAndre Hopkins scared me, I was impressed. When things work, you're a genius. When they don't, you're an idiot. Won't call him a genius, but he gets kudos for putting together a great game.
-Run defense continued to get gashed this game like they have recently. 145 yards on 29 carries averages out to five yards per carry. They weren't hit with homeruns, but gave up a bunch of singles and occasional doubles. Good thing the pass defense stepped up, or this could've gotten out of hand.
-Speaking of the run game, where the hell was the Texans' rushing offense?!? Must've been on a milk carton because it was definitely missing. 21 runs for 54 yards is what I'd call non-existent. That was the one area I thought they could make hay against the Patriots.
-Way too many missed tackles and a couple blown assignments in coverage. Missed tackles are the flat tire when you're running late of football. Blown coverage assignments are the forgot to pay a bill and something is in danger of getting cut off of football. Good thing the Texans were two hours early for work and had a bill credit or else they were in danger of having a bad day.
-The two loosies included with the 3rd round pick for Clowney each made an "impact" on the game early. Barkevious Mingo got a personal foul penalty after Julian Edelman was stopped for a loss. It extended their drive and got them in field goal range for an early 3-0 lead. Jacob Martin whiffed on a sack of Tom Brady. It took Brady about 30 minutes to scramble the 13 yards for a 1st down, but it shows how badly he missed. I know I was a town crier for trading Clowney, but that was when he had his highest value. Martin redeemed himself with a sack and a half, while Mingo did register two tackles.
-On their second possession of the 1st quarter, Laremy Tunsil let Kyle Van Noy run by him and sack Watson like he owed him money. Van Noy didn't even have to make a pass rush move. It was so bad, it looked like point shaving. Somebody check and see what the over/under was on when the first sack would take place or who would get it. Watson was sacked only three times this game. Tunsil better get it together if he's wanting the type of contract extension he's looking for.
-For as good as the defense played against Brady and the pass game, they sure missed sacking him a bunch. The three sacks they recorded were impressive, but that number should've been higher. Brady is nowhere near a Watson when it comes to escapability, but I'm still flabbergasted at how he manages to escape so many sacks. His footwork in the pocket had the Texans' pass rush flabbergasted as well.
If I would've told you the score at halftime would be 14-3 of this game, most people would think it would be in favor of the Patriots. If I said one quarterback looked fairly average while the other looked like an All Pro, you would've thought Brady was the All Pro most lilely. And if I said someone was out-coached, you would've undoubtedly thought it was O'Brien. My how the tables turned in this game. The Texans are now 8-4 with a game lead on the Titans in the AFC South, and are in third place in the AFC playoffs by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Chiefs. This means they'll get the 6th seed at home in Wildcard round instead of the 5th seed. Every win means something, especially in the playoff race. Texans fans have a lot to be happy about. They deserve it. Especially those that have supported this franchise unwaveringly over the years. Up next are the hapless, but dangerous Broncos. Don't slip on thew banana peel after walking past the oil slick.