Texans 28, Patriots 22: 10 quick thoughts from tough road loss

Ryan Hannable
December 01, 2019 - 11:38 pm
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That wasn’t good.

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In one of the biggest games of the season, the Patriots fell to the Texans, 28-22, on the road in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. New England trailed 21-3 with 5:41 left in the third quarter and became semi-interesting at the end, as the Patriots nearly recovered an onside kick with around a minute to play.

Both units had issues, as the defense was picked apart by Deshaun Watson and the Texans passing game, and Tom Brady and the Patriots offense was stymied by Bill O’Brien and the Texans defense.

It was O’Brien’s first ever win against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. The Patriots have now lost their last three road Sunday night games.

Here are 10 quick thoughts from the game.

1. This was not the 2019 Patriots defense’s finest performance. The Patriots allowed 28 points and 276 yards, while Watson went 18-for-25 passing for 234 yards and three touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins also had a passing touchdown. A two-play sequence in the second half showed exactly how the game went for that side of the ball. The Texans had a 35-yard touchdown called back due to not getting both feet in bounds, and then they went right back to the well on the very next play and Kenny Stills easily got both feet in for a 35-yard touchdown that gave Houston a 21-3 lead in the third quarter. The Patriots had allowed four passing touchdowns all season, and then allowed four in this game alone.

2. Tom Brady did not have the best of games. The 42-year-old went 24-for-47 passing with 326 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Certainly, everything isn't on the quarterback, but he wasn't sharp at all and does deserve some of the blame. The bulk of the offense's yards came in garbage time.

3. Things completely turned in the first half following Brady’s interception. The Patriots were leading 3-0 at the time, but Houston scored on the ensuing drive and gained all the momentum. It looked like N’Keal Harry could have fought harder to get inside of Bradley Roby on the play, but it still wasn't the best of decisions. Brady did not target Harry the rest of the game.

4. The game was a true indication of how much the Patriots have relied on their special teams and defense this season. Those units did not force any turnovers or score any points, and therefore everything was on the offense. In other years this wouldn’t be a problem at all, but this is the current state of the Patriots team.

5. The Patriots got off to a solid start offensively even though it ended with a field goal and not a touchdown. Sony Michel led the way with six carries, including a 17-yard run for one of his best of the season, but then the offense went away from him the rest of the first half. After the first drive, he got only one carry the rest of the half.

6. Julian Edelman was one of the bright spots for the Patriots offensively. Despite multiple double teams, the receiver finished with six catches on 12 targets for 106 yards. James White also had a decent game, finishing with eight receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 79 yards on the ground.

7. Offensively, Brady was under pressure for the majority of the night and even when he had time to throw, receivers were not getting open for him. Houston did a decent job limiting Edelman and White and then no other Patriots pass catchers stepped up. Mohamed Sanu finished with three catches on five targets for 14 yards.

8. The Patriots lost center Ted Karras to a knee injury in the second half. This forced third-string center James Ferentz into action as Karras was David Andrews’ (IR) backup to begin the year. He was almost immediately ruled out, which is likely not a good sign for him moving forward. This just continues the tough year for the offensive line with a number of moving parts.

9. For all the talk during the week about the illness going through the Patriots locker room and impacting the game, it really didn’t. All nine players that were questionable with an illness played, and there were no real signs on the field of it impacting things besides Marcus Cannon not coming out of the locker room after halftime and was replaced at right tackle by Marshall Newhouse for a series.

10. With the loss, the Patriots are no longer in first place in the AFC, as that belongs to the Ravens. Even though the teams are tied at 10-2, Baltimore owns the tiebreaker thanks to its win over them a few weeks back. New England hosts Kansas City next week, while the Ravens will travel to Buffalo. In addition, the Patriots now only lead the AFC East by a game over the Bills.

According to @NFLResearch, Brady has had seven or fewer completions on 15 or more pass attempts in a first half twice in the last six seasons. Those two games were last week vs. Dallas and Sunday vs. Houston.

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