Last years loss in Houston pretty much ended the season. Could this year’s win be an early revival of the season? Even considering that they didn’t really look that impressive.
The Patriots have played 5 games so far this regular season. This past Sunday was the second game (first being week 3 vs. New Orleans) where this team came out flat. Primarily in reference to the defense who had an embarrassing effort in the first series of the game.
The Texans opening touchdown drive lasted 18 plays, Houston’s longest drive in 10 years. They had four 3rd down conversions, including the 11-yard touchdown pass and a PI call, as well as a 4th and 2 conversion.
However, it was a good opening drive for the offense. We saw consistent yardage from Damien Harris on the ground and a couple big plays from Kendrick Bourne (first down catch over the center and running for a first down on a reverse handoff).
Nelson Agholor also had a first down catch and did so in the red zone. Jakobi Meyers was so close to scoring his first career touchdown on a screen pass but was stopped at the goal line. Damien Harris scored the following play in a wildcat like formation that saw Mac Jones motion out to receiver and Harris take a draw into the endzone from a direct snap out of the shotgun.
The second touchdown for the Texans was probably the biggest play of the game. A 67-yard touchdown pass where both McCourty and Jackson got burned and then looked sloppy trying to bring down Chris Moore. The Texans also had a 37-yard flea flicker touchdown later in the game. New England’s defense is susceptible to big offensive plays while the Patriot offense seldom has any big plays of their own.
The offense has really had a lack of chunk plays this year. They’ve only had maybe one or two passes that went 30+ yards. In fact, the biggest play (in yards) of the season so far was the first play of the year which was the 35-yard run by Damien Harris against the Dolphins which also happened to be the play that Trent Brown got injured on.
Following the Texans second touchdown the Pats were only down six because the Texans kicker missed his first two extra point attempts. Folk also missed his first extra point attempt of the game, his second extra point miss on the year.
Houston’s kicker also missed a 56-yard field goal attempt late in the game while Folk had a great game on FG attempts going 4/4 hitting 21,32, and two 52 yarders.
So down 12 to 6, New England puts together a nice drive on offense (8 plays, 67 yards and 4 minutes)
Damien Harris appears to have scored his second touchdown of the game until we see a bunch of Texans run off the field celebrating. The call on the field is a touchdown but goes straight to review and in an unfortunate turn of events, the call is overturned as a fumble recovered by Houston in the endzone for a touchback.
It’s tough to tell as it happens live but once you see the replay you know right away that the original call isn’t going to stand. We clearly see him lose the ball before going down but in addition to the fumble itself the replay also had to find who recovered the fumble which it successfully did.
I thought the fumble probably led to Stevenson getting more touches who ended up with 11 carries in comparison to Harris’ 14. Turns out Harris later in the game had to go into the locker room with a chest injury. He eventually returned and had a few more nice carries ending the game with 58 yards and the 1 TD, leading the team in rushing on the day. Brandon Bolden had a big 24-yard run on the game winning field goal drive, still ended the day with only two carries.
In my opinion I think overall Damien Harris looks pretty good even though he’s probably feeling a bit stressed with his season so far. The only problem is that at this point I know he’s going to fumble every once in a while, and it just happens that the last couple ‘once in a whiles’ came at pretty bad times.
The Texans answered back with another long (15 play, 83 yard and 7 min) drive that only ended with 3 points thanks to Matt Judon who had 2 sacks in 3 plays during a red zone stand to force Houston into a field goal. Judon already has 6 ½ sacks on the season.
In the final drive of the first half Mac Jones at that point had completed his first 9 passes of the game. It should’ve been 10 of his first 11 complete but Jakobi Meyers dropped a wide-open pass that may have been a touchdown if caught cleanly.
A hands to the face penalty on Houston gave the Pats a first down on that play anyway but a catch there would’ve obviously been better and probably would’ve led to a TD if not on that play. Jakobi Meyers could actually be allergic to getting into the end zone in a regular season NFL game. However, he still had a good game going for 56 yards on 4 receptions and 5 targets. Agholor, Bourne, and Henry also looked good this game
But the Patriots couldn’t take full advantage of the opportunity they had at the end of the first half and therefore had to settle for 3. So, all in all, minus the Harris fumble in the endzone you really should’ve been tied or up at halftime. Instead, only down 15-9 after not the best half of team football wasn’t the worst situation to be in.
Jalen Mills missed this game and it was a big loss in the secondary that showed. Joejuan Williams filled in mostly for Mills and got burned quite a bit including on the 37-yard flea flicker touchdown in the 3rd to make it 22-9 Texans coming off a Mac Jones interception.
After going down 22-9 and then having to punt the defense made a nice early stop on 3rd and short then Houston tried a weird trick punt play where the punter lined up like he was taking a shotgun snap then moved back like half the distance he would for a regular punt and tries to get the punt off but the Pats pressure and get there in time to block the punt.
This was a big momentum swing with the Patriots getting the ball now in the Texans end of the field. It was a good thing they did start with the ball there because they had a bad 3 play, 3-yard drive and had to settle for a quick field goal to make it a 10-point game. Despite the bad drive, because of the field goal it still felt like a turning point in the game.
The defense went on to shut out the Texans the rest of the game as the offense slowly but surely picked up enough points in just enough time to pull out the much-needed win. No matter who it’s against, desperation wins still always feel good. Well at least to me they do.
The 13-point comeback is the Patriots largest comeback win on the road since a 14-point comeback in 2017 against the Jets.
The Patriots offense ends the game on a really good note, 15 play 7-minute drive to take the lead with a 21-yard chip shot FG with 15 seconds left. Maybe Houston should’ve let them score because the Patriots milked a ton of time running it for short gains in the red zone. They actually did score a touchdown on one play but it was called back for an illegal formation call. The 3 points was all that was needed anyway because Houston only had enough time for two plays on their final drive.
Mac (23 for 30) had a nice 13-yard TD pass on 3rd down to Hunter Henry in the 4th, and 231 yards but also threw that pick, first drive of the 2nd half, and could’ve had at least 2-3 more due to some risky passes over the center and one by the sideline that were dropped by Texans. One was a really bad drop by a Texan defender in the last few minutes of the game but would’ve been called back anyway for a roughing the passer call.
Mac Jones and Hunter Henrys chemistry looks a lot better. Jonnu Smith is now catching the balls that he should have been all season but better late than never, he should continue to improve and really look like himself throughout the rest of this season but still, it does seem like at this point Hunter Henry could be becoming Mac’s go to guy. Henry had 75 yards on 6 receptions, 8 targets and 1 TD leading the team on the day in receiving.
I thought this was the best game of the year for the offensive line. Mac’s protection looked good, only got sacked once and looked like he really only got knocked down one or two other times.
Dont’a Hightower looked a lot better this week, he might be feeling some pressure since they brought back Jaime Collins (who had a big sack late in this game tied in the 4th). Might’ve realized that him, as well as many on this defense could be vulnerable to being benched at some point this season if things don’t change.
The Patriots went 6 for 11 on 3rd down conversions and converted on their first four 3rd down plays. The Texans went 6 for 14 on 3rd down conversions, Pats improved significantly on their 3rd down defense in the second half. However, the Texans went 3 for 3 on 4th down conversions showing that the Pats need to improve on defending 4th and short.
Meanwhile the Patriots redzone struggles continued as they went 2 for 5 in the redzone. The Texans were 1 for 2. The Pats are the 2nd worst red zone team in the league. They don’t get to the redzone a ton, pretty much around the middle of the league in red zone trips. Why are they struggling in the redzone? Play calling? Execution? Mac not being aggressive enough? Or is it an unhealthy mix of all three?
A lot of the good, which took until the 2nd half to see, is probably more of a testament to the mediocrity of the Houston Texans rather than the Patriots really looking that good. But still a crucial win regardless and with all of that being said, it leads to a big opportunity to really prove themselves this week against a Cowboys team that is on a hot start this year.
The Patriots didn’t look like they were a better team this week than they were last week but they did look like they improved in the overall execution of their gameplan in the second half of this game, which is still uplifting for fans to see no matter who they were playing against.
I think of all people, Bill knows how important this win was. I could see that being why he was so happy in the post-game locker room and press conference, much happier than we typically see him for most wins. And that’s because this season could’ve certainly been over after week 5 being 1-4 and losing to a team that bad.
Even though Deshaun Watson didn’t play, their rookie QB Davis Mills still had a solid outing and looked just as good as Mac Jones if not even better. However, that may speak more to the struggles in this secondary right now. I’m starting to really wish that they just paid Gilmore whatever he wanted.