Tough way to lose

Watson stars, but Brady dooms Texans in 36-33 loss

Brandin Cooks makes the game-winning catch with 23 seconds left. Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Texans almost did something they had never done before -- beat the Patriots in Foxboro. But in the end, they came up short again. 

They gave Tom Brady a chance late, and he took advantage. Brady threw his fifth touchdown pass of the game with 23 seconds left and the Patriots rallied to beat the Texans 36-33 in a heartbreaker for Houston.

Brady was phenomenal, completing 25 of 35 for 378 yards, the five TDs, one turnover on a fumble and his 50th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime. The Patriots went 75 yards on eight plays on the winning drive and Brandin Cooks made a brilliant catch on the game-winner.

Offensively, the Texans did everything they needed to do to win the game. Deshaun Watson was outstanding in his second career start. He was 22 of 32 for 301 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 41 yards on eight carries and constantly eluded pressure. In fact,  the Texans played as well on offense as they have during the Bill O’Brien era. Watson was sharp, elusive and made plays. O’Brien’s playcalling was outstanding and tailored to Watson’s game.

But when it mattered, it was too much Brady. He did what he has done throughout his career. The Texans defense simply could not make enough plays when it mattered. 

Even losing the game, the future might be bright for the 1-2 Texans. They appear to finally have an answer at quarterback. He made one bad pass (the second pick was on a last second Hail Mary) but played well throughout and gave the Texans a chance to win.

The Texans had more yards (417-396), led in time of possession by five minutes, sacked Brady five times and led in the fourth quarter against the Super Bowl champs. They came within inches of winning the game on a late Corey Moore interception, but he could not hold the ball, and Brady made no mistakes after that.

The Texans held their own in the first half and trailed only 21-20. Watson was 12 of 16 for 123 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 27 yards on six carries, but for the most part the Patriots did a solid job of keeping him contained from breaking a big run.

The interception was bad, and looked like a miscommunication with Hopkins, who had four catches for 38 yards in the half and finished the game with seven for 78.

The defense had some breakdowns, leading to three Brady touchdown passes, but also pressured Brady and scored on a sack/fumble.

It set them up for a terrific second half, and a game the Texans had every chance to win.

But in the end, it was too much Brady. Again. And the Texans came up short in Foxboro.

Again.

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Correa could be on his way out. Composite image by Jack Brame.

It has not been the best of times to be a star athlete in Houston. In the last year, Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins were solid off for a warm bucket of spit. George Springer won't be back. James Harden and Russell Westbrook rumors are rampant. J.J. Watt might be moving on as well.

Now, reports are the Astros are listening to offers for Carlos Correa.

Predictably, Astros fans are livid. And if it's true, they should be concerned about the bigger picture.

Trading Correa makes sense - if you have no plans on keeping him after next season, as was clearly the case with Springer. If the Astros can get a haul and replenish the farm system, it would be the right move, especially considering Correa's injury history.

But in the long run, it does not bode well for the direction of the team. All recent indications are that the Astros are going cheap.

They would still be a competitive team without Correa, but it would be yet another indication their World Series window has closed. Alex Bregman could slide over to shortstop, but who would play third? And they only have one starting outfielder on the roster as it is. Putting together a competitive lineup around Bregman, Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez would still be possible, but if the Astros aren't going to spend money, that could be problematic.

The writing was probably on the wall when the team hired James Click as GM from the notoriously frugal Tampa Bay organization. The good news is the Rays have been successful. But this is a new direction for a team that was not afraid to spend big money to make runs at the World Series.

If they lose Correa, they lose a team leader, one of the few players who embraced the villain role in the wake of the cheating controversy and was not afraid to speak out. But he has never lived up to his MVP potential, has battled injuries and will command big dollars on the open market. He is still young enough to become that kind of player, and someone will gamble big money that he will.

Sadly, if this rumor is true, it won't be the Astros.

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