Posted on September 24, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Heading into Foxborough, the Houston Texans knew they had a tough one on their hands. They knew it would not be easy to even look competitive against the New England Patriots let alone beat them. It didn’t matter how the Patriots had looked against Kansas City. It mattered even less that they looked better against the Saints.
The franchise has yet to beat the Patriots and would have to play better than even they thought they could to have a shot. They would absolutely need their offensive line to step it up a few notches and for their rookie quarterback to look like that guy that beat Alabama last year.
As luck would have it, that is what happened—but the Texans still lost.
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Deshaun Watson had his best day as a pro completing 22 of 33 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns along with a pair of interceptions. It would have been easy for him to fold or falter each time the Patriots took the lead. But instead, he found a way to answer the Patriots scores by leading the Texans to points.
“I thought he played phenomenal,” J.J. Watt said of Watson (Yahoo). “He did a great job. You see what he can do with his legs and get’s himself out of tough situations. He can make plays. He’s only going to get better with time. He’s going to be very good in this league.”
The offensive line wasn’t great, but for a unit that gave up 11 sacks in Week One, only giving up two is a victory. Yes, Watson saved what could have been a few sacks with his legs. But that is part of the reason why he was made the starting quarterback.
Houston fans had to be excited watching the game. Maybe they finally have a quarterback. It’s a little soon to make any kind of judgment of course. But there appears to be hope for the future for a change.
As for the game, Houston still had one major problem they couldn’t overcome—Tom Brady.
New England couldn’t run the ball on Houston (20 total carries for 59 yards). But with Tom Brady picking apart the Texans secondary with relative ease, why bother trying?
Brady was not perfect on the day—but he was pretty darn close. When all was said and done, he completed 25 of 35 attempts for 378 yards and five touchdowns. The Texans defense had gone 31 games without allowing a quarterback to pass for 300+ yards.
His one glaring mistake was a fumble after getting sacked by Whitney Mercilus that Jadeveon Clowney returned 22-yards for a touchdown. The score gave Houston the lead late in the first half, 20-14. But six plays later, Brady took the lead back when he hit Chris Hogan with a 47-yard touchdown pass.
There would end up being eight lead changes on the day with the final and most important once coming late in the game. Houston had opted to kick a field goal on fourth and one from the 18-yard line with a two-point lead. But with 2:24 on the clock, Brady had more than enough time for a game-winning touchdown drive.
On the ensuing drive, Houston’s defense got the Patriots in third and long situations twice. The first came early in the drive (3rd and 12); Brady completed a pass to Rob Gronkowski for 15 yards. The second was a 3rd and 18 with the ball on their own 48-yard line—and Houston gave up a 27-yard pass from Brady to Danny Amendola.
Brady connected with Brandin Cooks on the next play with a 25-yard touchdown pass to retake the lead (following the two-point conversion), 36-33.
Some will call nearly beating the Patriots a ‘moral’ victory, but the loss drops them to 1-2 with a division rival up next. They will face the Tennessee Titans at home next Sunday. Next up for the Patriots will be a home game against the Carolina Panthers.