Texans 28, Patriots 22

Texans vs Patriots: Good, bad and ugly

Getty Images

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:

The Good

-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.

The Bad

-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 Ugly

-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.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Davis Mills didn't see much action on Saturday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans played their first preseason game and turned in a winning effort. Here are 11 observations from the victory.

1. The initial and early offense felt scarily familiar to last season. It seemed like vanilla was the emphasis, but a negative play doomed the Texans on each of the Davis Mills led drives. This is an offense in training camp that has overcome bad plays, that wasn’t the case Saturday night.

2. Penalties showed up in force for the Texans. I disagreed with a handful of them, but it is clear there needs to be a little more work on these. It also could be simply the referee emphasis as well. The officials at practice have called offensive pass interference, and Chris Moore got dinged Saturday for that. The team currently doesn’t have the talent to regularly overcome a holding or other offensive penalty.

3. I’m not going to read too much into the first-team offense or the defense. Too many players who will play in games didn’t play in this one. I tend to focus more on individuals than teams in these situations.

4. Jalen Pitre has a nose for the football. It looked like almost every Baylor game out there from his college career. The safety was in on what felt like every play. It will be exciting to watch him assess his game film and build on it. Lovie Smith mentioned how important it was for players to get their first game out of the way. Well, mark that step down for Pitre.

5. Blake Cashman flashed plenty. His athletic deflection on a long-third down throw was a lovely play. He was getting his nose into a lot of the action as well. Cashman has a chance to make this team as linebacker depth. If he can build off the success from Saturday, he will be in a position to make the final roster.

6. Kurt Hinish is a name you may not know just yet. His name is worth learning though. The undrafted defensive tackle from Notre Dame has flashed in camp and he sacked his old teammate Ian Book on Saturday night. Roy Lopez and Maliek Collins are the team’s two defensive tackles, but there is room for someone like Hinish. I don’t believe he would make it to the practice squad.

7. Rookie defensive lineman Thomas Booker had some nice plays. He hasn’t stood out much in training camp to this point. It isn’t out of the question he is on the roster bubble, but there’s still time to find his way.

8. Jalen Camp scored a touchdown and did the crane celebration as a nod to teammate John Metchie who is dealing with cancer. Camp had a few flashes in training camp, but it isn’t consistent. There is an opportunity for a couple of wideouts, but nobody has separated to the point where I can say they have for sure earned the spots on the depth chart.

9. Dameon Pierce wowed on Saturday. It was great to watch the rookie rip off big physical runs. Pierce will be a factor for the Texans in 2022. The consistency of his work will determine how much of a factor. He is exciting, more than Marlon Mack, and if the team starts to trust him more, he has the talent to make it pay off for the Texans.

10. The special teams looks like it might be one of the best aspects of this team. Cam Johnston can absolutely BOOM the ball as a punter and could be one of the best in the league. The coverage on kicks was very good. This is something that will have to be great for the Texans as this is still a team that lives in the margins.

11. I’d guess the second preseason game will look a little closer to what the third preseason game used to look like. A little more from the expected starters would be a welcome sight. I would like to see a little more Davis Mills and a few more of the top players in the game for a stretch and see if Pep Hamilton wants to get a bit more creative.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome