Texans Defeat Patriots: The Good, Bad, And Ugly

With Houston beating the New England Patriots 27-20, we look at the good and bad of the Texans' performance from an open-roofed NRG Stadium.
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Stop the presses, the Houston Texans have improved! 

On Sunday afternoon, coach Romeo Crennel's Texans beat the New England Patriots, 27-20, for only the third time in franchise history ... and somewhat ironically reached their third victory on the season. 

Coordinator Tim Kelly's offense was significantly improved as Deshaun Watson had himself a great game, while coordinator Anthony Weaver's defense rebounded from several sub-par games to prove doubters wrong as they kept Cam Newton's offense at bay. 

But of course, it wasn't all good ...

The Good

First of all, Watson was cooking. After a disappointing first drive, he quickly found his rhythm as Kelly's offense showed pace and urgency, leaning far more heavily on the passing game than they had done in previous weeks this year. 

Watson finished 28 of 37 for 344 passing yards, two touchdowns, with a further 36 rushing yards and one bulldozer-esque touchdown to crown an emphatic performance. 

Brandin Cooks, Jordan Akins, and Will Fuller each had 80-plus yards receiving on 15 total receptions as Houston finally found a way to spread the ball around their deep receiving corps effectively. 

Meanwhile, Keke Coutee marked his first appearance since Week 2 with 10 receiving yards and a touchdown showing he still has a place on this team. 

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The offensive line also deserves a great deal of praise, as they managed to keep a lackluster New England pass rush controlled,  allowing zero sacks and just two quarterback hits on the day, all without starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil and left guard Senio Kelemete. Roderick Johnson and Max Scharping both put in strong performances in the absences of the aforementioned starters, with rookie Charlie Heck making his first NFL appearance late in the game with right tackle Tytus Howard briefly sidelined.

Defensively it was a vastly improved performance. Playing as if they had a point to prove, they showed more aggression than has been seen all season. 

They held the Patriots' run game to just 86 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, a big accomplishment considering how porous Houston's run defense has been of late. 

Defensive end J.J. Watt had possibly his best game of the season as he notched four defended passes, a single-game career-high for the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. 

Fellow defensive lineman Carlos Watkins also chipped in with a towering blocked pass, his third in as many weeks, while rookie outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard and safety Justin Reid notched their first NFL sacks. 

The Bad

The Texans may have used their run game far more sparingly than usual, but this didn't mean it was any more effective when run. They still only managed 55 yards rushing on 19 carries, with running back Duke Johnson recording just 15 yards on 10 carries.

Receivers Randall Cobb (toe) and Kenny Stills (quadriceps) both left the game with injuries, with the former potentially heading to injured reserve after this week's matchup with the Detroit Lions, per Aaron Wilson.

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Sticking with injuries, defensive tackles P.J. Hall (torn pectoral) and Brandon Dunn also both left the game with Hall now reportedly heading to injured reserve.

Remaining on defense, the Texans' defensive backs still had a tough game, with cornerback Phillip Gaines struggling yet again as he was burned by Damiere Byrd on New England's sole touchdown pass. 

In total, Patriots quarterback Cam Newton was 26 of 40 for 365 yards. 

Overall

On the whole, there are few negatives to worry about. Yes, New England played pretty poorly defensively, which may flatter the Texans' offensive stats, but ultimately you can only play whoever is opposite you, and the Pats were fresh off of two victories.

Seeing Houston finally focus on the passing game rather than persistently attempting to establish the run game was a breath of fresh air, and giving Deshaun the ball allowed him to run this offense effectively and let him do what he does best: Extend plays, escape pressure, and make magic happen.

It was far from a perfect performance, and the injuries take the shine away from it all a little, but in a season full of negativity, Houston fans should be delighted: An entertaining game with plenty of Watson wizardry, more records for Watt, and the defense took a big step forward for the now 3-7 Texans.