By Traci McCartney // @traciamc
Patriots 36-Texans 33
In a game where both the offense and defense seemed to struggle, the Patriots pulled out a win on yet another quarterback Tom Brady game winning, game ending drive (the 50th in his career). Brady connected on a 25 yd pass to speedster wide reciever Brandin Cooks, who made a spectacular catch to put the Patriots ahead 36-33 after the successful 2 point conversion attempt, leaving the Texans with 23 seconds left for Houston Texans’ rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to make something happen. It wasn’t meant to be.
This wasn’t one of the Patriots’ best games, and as I mentioned last week, the Texans’ defense is tough – they’re big and they’re fast, and even with their starting secondary depleted, they managed to give Patriots receivers a difficult time. Thoughts on this game….
- The Offensive Line needs to do a LOT better than they did this week. Brady was sacked 5 times in the game on Sunday for a loss of 41 yds, and honestly, every time Brady caught the snap, I was afraid for him. Tackle Nate Solder especially seemed unable to block the quick Texan defense. Not only was Brady sacked, but he was hit 8 times, including a hit taken when guard Joe Thuney was run over on the pass to Cooks for the touchdown.
- Running game was virtually shut down by the Texans’ defense. Only 59 yds rushing and no rushing touchdowns. Offensive line play definitely contributed to the problem here.
- Defense had a hard time containing Watson – he rushed for 41 yards, second only to running back Lamar Miller, who had 56 yds. He also threw for 301 yards and 2 touchdowns. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower was out this week with an MCL sprain suffered in the first game of the season against the Chiefs. His highly anticipated return would help the defense immensely.
- Welcome to New England, Brandin Cooks! Cooks was #1 in receptions with 2 touchdowns, one in the Patriots’ opening drive for 44 yds, and the game winning touchdown in the Patriots’ final drive. He also caught the 2 point conversion pass from Brady to put the Patriots up by a field goal.
- Tight end Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski is back! It didn’t look like the groin injury from last week was much of an issue. He had 8 receptions for 89 yds, including a touchdown and 2 receptions on the game winning drive to pick up a first down on a second and 20. He also made some key blocks, allowing Brady to get the ball out of his hands and to his receivers.
- Linebackers Trey Flowers and Cassius Marsh each had a sack, but rookie line backer Deatrich Wise also had a couple of quarterback hits, one of which was almost a sack. Wise has played well in all 3 games and I’m looking forward to seeing him get better and better.
- Kicker Stephen Gostkowski went 4/4 for extra points in this game after missing one against the Saints last week. Maybe we’ll get back to not having to worry about extra point attempts…maybe.
Looking forward to seeing this team make some adjustments. Next week, the Patriots take on the NFC South Carolina Panthers, who are coming off a loss at home to the Saints. #WereOnToCarolina
Talk Patriots with Traci in Twitter // @tracimac