Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

How Patriots contained Deshaun Watson in season-opening win

Ryan Hannable
September 10, 2018 - 10:09 am

FOXBORO -- In the Week 3 meeting last season, Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson torched the Patriots defense for 301 passing yards, while adding 41 on the ground.

The Patriots weren't going to let that happen again.

New England's defensive game plan, which included a new 3-4 look, centered around Watson and it worked as he finished with just 176 yards passing in the Patriots' 27-20 win. Clearly, the Patriots frustrated the second-year player.

"For me, personally, I think it was terrible on my part," Watson said afterwards. "So you can just – I just feel like you can put the ‘L’ on me because I’ll be way better than what I showed today. Just my energy was low and just overthinking the little things."

So, what was the biggest difference for the Patriots defense?

“Last year it was his first year obviously, and we knew he was a scrambling QB, but we didn’t know how good he actually was," cornerback Eric Rowe said. "This year we put a major emphasis on pass plays when he scrambles for the defense and d-line to keep him contained, and for us DBs to stay on the receivers because he can scramble and chuck it. We put a huge emphasis on that today and not let that happen like last year.”

While things are never perfect, Bill Belichick seemed pleased with the performance, especially compared to last season.

"I thought we did some good things. We certainly played him better than we did last year, not that that would take much," he said. "Yeah, I mean, again, no one guy can stop Watson so it's got to be team defense, it's got to be coverage, it's got to be pass rush, it's got to be discipline, man, zone, whatever it is, however many guys you're rushing, whatever the play is. It could be drop-back pass, play actions. They had some move-the-pocket plays with the quarterback. [It was] good team defense. He's a hard guy to stop. [DeAndre] Hopkins is a hard guy to stop. They do a good job in the running game. We had our hands full with all of those things. Fortunately, we were able to make enough plays to come out on top."

Yes, it is just one game, but Sunday was a big confidence builder for the Patriots defense which could be in for a big year.

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