Patriots Defensive Report Card: Week 13
Although the Houston Texans ended up scoring 28 points in Sunday night's victory over the New England Patriots, one could make an argument that only 21 of those points were truly on the Patriot's defense.
Tom Brady's interception was nearly returned for a Texans touchdown before the Patriots made the tackle. With Houston starting in fantastic field position after the turnover, the New England defense was already backed up in the red zone. Overall, the Patriots defense did their job against the Texans, it was the offense who didn't do enough to put the team in a position to win.
Here are the grades given out to the top defensive players for the Patriots for their Week 13 performance.
Stephon Gilmore: B+
Stephon Gilmore is always matched up versus the opposing teams best wide receiver, and as you may know, the Texans have a pretty good one. Gilmore fared pretty well while covering DeAndre Hopkins, who had five catches on six targets for 64 yards overall. Gilmore did let up two catches for 37 yards on the Texans’ fourth-quarter drive that eventually led to Houston's fourth touchdown. All in all, Gilmore did well throughout the game, certainly no blame can be put on him.
Dont'a Hightower: B
The Patriots' linebackers struggled while in coverage against the Texans, and Deshaun Watson began to exploit that more and more as the game progressed. Both Dont'a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy were charged with allowing passing touchdowns. In other facets of the game, Hightower played well, as he recorded a sack and played an intricate role in holding Houston to only 52 yards rushing. Hightower also finished with six tackles, which was good enough for 2nd on the team.
Lawrence Guy: A-
Lawrence Guy has put together two great games on defense these last couple of weeks. Against the Texans, Guy led the team with seven tackles, which is pretty rare for a player whose role is similar to his. Guy's job is more times than not to plug holes and fill gaps, which usually means other players on defense make the tackles while he takes up space. Guy is another bright spot on this strong New England defense.
Kyle Van Noy: B-
Kyle Van Noy was one of the players battling the flu during this past week, so it was understandable why he looked a bit sluggish to begin the game. As stated, the linebackers did struggle at times defending the pass, but perhaps that's due to them also needing to spy Watson. Van Noy finished with three tackles, all of them solo, and a sack.