Texans 27, Patriots 20: Defying The Odds
Anthony R Wood
Another week, another loss? Interim head coach Romeo Crennel was having none of it. Facing a New England Patriots team that had won two straight, the Houston Texans played hard-nosed defense and efficient offensive football to record just their third win of the season by a 27-20 score.
Houston started the game poorly, going nowhere on their first offensive drive before allowing the Patriots to drive 84 yards down the field for a touchdown on their opening possession.
However, from there, Houston's defense stepped up to all but shut down the Patriots' diverse run game, forcing quarterback Cam Newton to rely on their thin receiving corps. The Pats rushed for a total of 86 yards and one touchdown.
In the second half, Newton was able to forge a consistent connection deep with receiver Damiere Byrd, who finished with 132 yards and a touchdown on the day. But that wasn't enough to overcome Houston's beat-the-odds QB.
Offensively it was a good day all around from Houston. Deshaun Watson had himself a day, showing exactly why the Texans are so confident in building the franchise around the former Clemson star. Watson went 28 of 37 for 344 yards and two passing touchdowns, with another highlight-reel touchdown on the ground where he ran over the Patriots goal-line defense.
Demonstrating his Houdini-esque rushing abilities, Watson was able to make the most of decent all-around protection from Houston's injury-ravaged offensive line, here without starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil and left guard Senio Kelemete. Roderick Johnson and Max Scharping did a solid job in their places giving Watson protection from a lackluster Patriots pass-rush, with the unit preventing a single sack.
Said Crennel of Watson: "He did a tremendous job. He was able to get out of trouble and still made plays.''
Houston's tight ends had a particularly productive outing, with Jordan Akins enjoying a career game with 83 yards, while Pharaoh Brown made a name for himself with 22 yards including one bruising run in the first half.
It wasn't all ideal for the Texans, unfortunately. Receivers Kenny Stills and Randall Cobb both left the game injured, joined later by defensive tackles P.J. Hall and Brandon Dunn. Additionally, the Texans cornerbacks had a mixed game, with Phillip Gaines, in particular, getting burned by Byrd on his touchdown - and Newton finished the game 26 of 40 for 365 yards and one touchdown.
A tight game from start to finish, the Texans - and their QB - managed to defy the odds and beat the Patriots for just the third time in their last 13 matchups, with Houston now sitting at 3-7 heading into Week 12.