Texans 27, Patriots 20: 11 Takes on Watson's Wild Day
HOUSTON - The Houston Texans earned their first win against a team that isn't the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 27-20 victory over the New England Patriots in NFL Week 11. Here, our 11 Takes:
11. As expected, Roderick Johnson got the start at left tackle with Laremy Tunsil down with an illness. It was deep into the second quarter before Johnson allowed a pressure.
Johnson was more than solid in the game and at least for this game, it didn't seem the team missed Laremy Tunsil.
10. The opening offensive drive for the Patriots exposed almost every single weakness of Houston's defense. Cam Newton hit an easy screen pass for a huge gain. Play action opened up a huge gain for Newton moments later.
Running outside was nearly unstoppable. Damien Harris looked to be bottled up but would keep working outside for more yards. On the touchdown to end the drive Harris went untouched for the score on a toss play.
The defense, like last week, played much better after a shaky start. Houston allowed just 67 yards on the next three drives after allowing 84 yards on the first drive by the Patriots.
The Texans' defense would pick up the only two sacks of the game with Jonathan Greenard picking up the first of his career and Justin Reid torpedoing a Patriots red zone possession with a sack of his own.
9. Deshaun Watson was cooking early against the Patriots. Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb showed off veteran prowess getting open against solid coverage. Watson easily found them.
It is rare to see the Texans get moving and finish with a touchdown so early in a game.
8. Randall Cobb would injure his foot on the above touchdown score. Keke Coutee would take over as the slot receiver. He is also the team's punt returner after the Texans moved on from DeAndre Carter.
Coutee would catch a touchdown in the second quarter. Deshaun Watson kept a play alive and Coutee shook loose from a Patriots defender to get open for the score.
7. The Texans still can't run the football. Duke Johnson's first four carries went for five yards. Inside, outside, it didn't matter. This team is one dimensional. Deshaun Watson remains the only viable rushing option, and that's when he scrambles - not on designed runs.
Non-Watson rushes amassed 13 carries for 19 yards. Smartly, the Texans started throwing quick short passes to mimic the rushing attack.
6. J.J. Watt had a fine day after the Browns neutralized him last week. He even found himself in coverage. He was much more under control and took fewer risks. He was frequently near or in Cam Newton's passing lanes getting a pass deflection in the second quarter.
In the second half, Watt smashed the Patriots' rushing attack twice. Once he stoned New England for no gain loss and then added a tackle for a loss in the third quarter.
Watt batted down a Cam Newton pass in the fourth quarter and the Texans almost came down with an interception before Newton was able to bat down his own pass.
Watt would add yet another pass deflection on the Patriots' next to last drive of regulation.
Said Crennel of Watt's performance: "That was really good. I enjoy seeing that from J.J. The most impact was to the opposing quarterback.''
5. Jordan Akins showed why he is the top tight end on the team. He has incredible chemistry with Deshaun Watson. Akins caught a 22-yard bullet from Watson on the team's first touchdown drive. On the second touchdown drive, Watson hit Akins for 25 yards.
Akins would haul in his fourth catch for 24 yards just before halftime. That brought his total to 77 yards which is his career-high. He would add a catch to finish the day with five total catches and 83 yards.
4. Phillip Gaines struck again this week. Cam Newton dropped a pass right over his head to a Patriots pass catcher for New England's first score since their opening drive. It was the first passing touchdown from Newton to a wide receiver this year.
Houston had no answer for Damiere Byrd. Newton found him time after time in key situations including a screen to pick up a key third down. Fortunately, he was the lone wideout to get going for New England.
3. Will Fuller is for sure a No. 1 wide receiver and makes the case each week for the Texans to keep him around. He had a number of first-down plays for the Texans. With this game, Fuller finally eclipsed 700 yards in a season.
It would be very difficult to see the Texans in 2021 without Will Fuller.
2. This is the type of game where Watson showcased his potential as one of the best quarterbacks in football. This is not a good team overall, they can't run the football, and the offensive line is inconsistent.
It didn't matter to Watson who had a spectacular day. He never looked phased by anything and was always looking downfield as he maneuvered in and out of the pocket.
It is one of the best games Watson has played in his NFL career. It was the eighth-highest passing total of his career with 344 yards passing.
Said Crennel of Watson: "He did a tremendous job. He was able to get out of trouble and still made plays.''
1. The wins and losses are less important but a win does feel good for Houston, now 3-7. This is a short-talented defense and a one-dimensional offense. But ... There were plenty of positives for the future of the Texans on Sunday starting with their star quarterback.