Rapid Reaction — Pats Embarrass Texans

I think it’s safe to say that nobody saw this coming.

When the Patriots took the field Thursday night lead by third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett no one would have predicted a beat down like this. With the help of his mammoth running back LeGarrette Blount, invincible defense, and supreme special teams, Brissett and the PAtriots marched to a 27–0 victory at home against a woeful Texans team.

Earlier in the day we highlighted the five keys to the game. The Patriots must have seen the article because they executed all five flawlessly. Let’s review:

  1. Defense- 10 out of 10
    I have never been an NFL player, scout, or coach, but I’m pretty sure it’s a good thing when the other team doesn’t score. Not only did the Patriots defense shut out the Texans, they demoralized them. Jamie Collins lead the charge with 14 tackles and added an interception to compliment his already impressive statline. Jabaal Sheard recorded two sacks and Chris Long was in Brock Osweiler’s face all night long. The secondary played a near perfect game and did a great job shutting down DeAndre Hopkins (4 rec, 56 yards) and Will Fuller (3 rec, 31 yards). Despite playing without star linebacker Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots also held Texans running back Lamar Miller to only 80 yards on 21 carries. The Texans didn’t run a play in New England territory until their 43rd (!!!) offensive snap of the night (1:11 mark in third quarter). It’s safe to say the defense played their best game in recent memory on Thursday night.
  2. The offensive line — 9.5 out of 10
    The Patriots rushed for 185 yards and a lot of it had to do with great O-line play. The big guys up front won the battle in the trenches and opened up running lanes for Blount and Brissett (who finished the game with 48 rushing yards and one TD). On Brissett’s 27-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, right guard Shaq Mason made a great block to take out the containment on the right side of the line and allowed Brissett to get wide and make a play. In the passing game, the line struggled at times but was ultimately very sound. Although they did allow one sack, Brissett had time on several occasions and was able to stay calm and poised behind his trustworthy line.
  3. The clock — 7 out of 10
    Although New England dominated the game, the Texans actually lead in the “time of possession” category. The Patriots started in Houston territory five times and, therefore, could not milk the clock as planned. This ultimately did not poise to be a problem.
  4. Special teams — 100 out of 10
    No, that’s not a typo. I don’t even know where to start with this unit. Gostkowski was 2 for 2 on field goals (24, 25 yards) and 3 for 3 on extra points. Perfect. Ryan Allen punted the ball seven times in the game, SIX of which planted Houston inside their own 20. With an average of 47.6 yards per punt, Allen deserves a game ball for what he did tonight. Kickoff coverage was another successful (that’s an understatement) part of the special teams unit. Late in the first quarter, running back (or is he considered special team stud?) Brandon Bolden forced a fumble and the Pats recovered at the Houston 17 (Harmon recovered). Early in the third after a Patriots field goal, Nate Ebner did the same thing. Jordan Richards jumped on the loose ball this time and from that point on it felt like another Patriots win.
  5. Yards After Catch (YAC) — 5 out of 10
    Although Malcolm Mitchell broke two tackles and gained 27 yards on a slant route in the first quarter, no Patriots receivers had any opportunities to really accel in this category. Brissett only threw the ball 19 times and only managed to complete 11 passes.

By forcing three turnovers and not turning the ball over themselves, the Patriots were able to set the tone early and dominate Houston. JJ Watt only recorded two tackles and the Brady/Garoppolo-less Patriots will host the Bills next Sunday with a record of 3–0.