Ryan L. Fox
Good news everybody! The 2018 NFL Season has begun. No more off-season talks of schisms, no more talks of whether of the future of Tom Brady. It was all football in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Coming into Gillette was an all-too familiar foe, the Houston Texans. Last year, the Texans nearly pulled the upset with rookie Deshaun Watson under center. Could they pull the upset again or would they just be another tick in the victory column for Belichick and Brady?
The Patriots started the game, receiving the opening kickoff and beginning at their own 25. The Houston defense was able to force a Patriots punt as they got the ball on their own 22. However on their first possession, QB Deshaun Watson fumbled the ball and Pats LB Dont’a Hightower recovered the ball at the Texans 19. Three plays later, QB Tom Brady hooked up with TE Rob Gronkowski for a 21-yard touchdown for the first Pats touchdown in 2018. K Stephen Gostkowski added the extra point as the Pats had the early 7-0 lead.
After the touchdown, the two teams traded punts with one another. The Patriots then got the ball back with 5:39 left in the 1st quarter on their own 6. On a 3rd and 6 from their own 10, Brady’s pass to RB James White was tipped at the line of scrimmage and fell into the arms of S Tyrann Mathieu at the Patriots 17. However the Pats defense held up, including sacking Watson back at the Patriots 25. The Texans had to settle for a 42-yard field goal by K Ka'imi Fairbairn as the score was 7-3.
The Patriots got the ensuing kickoff, driving all the way down to the Texans 30 as the first quarter came to a close. When the second began, the Pats continued with their drive, including converting on a 4th an inches on the Texans 25. Brady led the offense all the way down to the Texans 12 where he hooked up with White for a 12-yard score. Gostkowski added the extra point as the Patriots lead extended to 14-3.
A 36-yard field goal by K Ka'imi Fairbairn then made the score was 14-6 as the two teams exchanged punts with one another. The Texans got the ball back on their own 34 as they drove down the field. On 2nd and 3 on the New England 42, Watson looked for WR Vyncint Smith deep but CB Stephon Gilmore picked it off in the end zone for a touchback. The Patriots couldn’t move the ball and were forced to punt again.
After forcing the Texans to punt yet again, the Patriots got the ball back on their 22 with 1:28 left in the quarter. Brady began the 2-minute offense, driving his team down the field all the way down to the Texans 4. With 19 seconds left in the quarter, Brady found WR Phillip Dorsett in the end zone for the 4-yard touchdown pass. Another PAT by Gostkowski made the score 21-6 as the two teams went into halftime with the same score.
The Texans got ball to start the second half, only able to get to their own 37 before being forced to punt. The Patriots got the ball on their own 21 for their first possession of the 2nd half. After a 4-yard run by RB Jeremy to set up 2nd and 6 on their 25, Brady found Gronkowski for 29 yards into Texans territory. However CB Kareem Jackson knocked the ball out of Gronk’s hands. Mathieu recovered the ball, giving the Texans great field position.
The Texans drove down the field, getting down to the New England 17. On 3rd down, Watson tried to find TE Ryan Griffin deep but the pass fell incomplete. Rolling the dice, Texans coach Bill O’Brien decided to keep the offense out there for 4th down. However Watson’s 4th down pass to Griffin fell incomplete, giving the ball back to the Patriots. A holding penalty backed them to the New England 8. Two plays later, RB Alfred Blue bowled over the goal line for the touchdown. Fairb
The Patriots got the ball on their own 17 and proceeded to drive down the field. The drive was kept alive thanks to a defensive holding penalty on Texans CB Kevin Jackson on 3rd and 5 on the Texans 41. The Patriots got down to the Texans 20 but Brady threw 2 straight incomplete passes. They had to settle for a 39-yard field goal by Gostkowski to make it 24-6.
The Texans got the ensuing kickoff and began their drive at their own 32. Unlike the previous few drives, the Texans decided to go to a no-huddle offense. The results worked out to their liking, getting down to the New England 3. Fairbairn made the PAT as the Patriots lead was now 24-13.
The Patriots got the ball and drove to the Texans 48 as the 3rd quarter came to an end. They opened up the 4th quarter continuing their current drive. They got all the way down to the Texans 10. However a sack on 2nd down and then getting stuffed on 3rd down forced the Patriots to settle for a field goal. Gostkowski booted the 35-yarder to extend the Patriots lead to 27-13.
The two teams exchanged punts with one another as the Texans got the ball back on their own 34 with 5:17 left in the game. They could only move up to their 36 before punting the ball. However PR/WR Riley McCarron ended up muffing the punt and Texans CB Johnson Bademosi recovered the ball at the New England 16. The Texans were able to drive all the way down to the New England 1. A sack on Watson pushed them back to the New England 5 but the Texans would not be denied. On the ensuing 2nd down, Watson found WR Bruce Ellington in the end zone for the touchdown. Fairbairn’s PAT was true the score was now 27-20.
After forcing the Patriots to punt, Watson and the Texans offense got the ball back on their own 1 with 43 seconds. An unnecessary roughness by Patriots S Duron Harmon helped give the Texans some breathing room. They moved the ball all the way to their own 43 with 5 seconds left in the game. However Watson’s last gasp pass fell incomplete as the Patriots got the 27-20 victory in their season opener.
QB Tom Brady: 26-for-39 for 277 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, QB Rating of 102.2
TE Rob Gronkowski: 7 catches for 123 yards and 1 TD, 1 Fumble Loss
WR Phillip Dorsett: 7 catches for 66 yards and 1 TD
CB Stephon Gilmore: 8 tackles (7 solo, 1 assist), 2 passes deflected, 1 INT
DE Trey Flowers: 5 tackles (2 solo, 3 assist), 1.5 sacks
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: 3 tackles (2 solo, 1 assist), 1.5 sacks
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
123 – Number of receiving yards that TE Rob Gronkowski had for the game
27 – Number of games that Gronk has had 100 yards or more. That puts him 2nd all-time among tight ends (TE Tony Gonzalez is 1st with 31 games)
14 – Number of victories that QB Tom Brady has after turning 40, surpassing former NFL QB Brett Farve for most all-time
3 – Number of turnovers by the Patriots (2 fumbles lost, 1 interception)
1.5 – Number of sacks that both DEs Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise Jr. had in the victory
251 - Number of regular season victories for coach Bill Belichick, putting him past HOF Coach Tom Landry for 3rd all-time
The Game Changer
There’s always a moment within a game that changes the course of the game. It could happen at any time. In this game, it came in the first quarter of the game.
The Texans defense had just forced the Patriots to punt and got the ball on their own 19. On the first play of their first possession of the game, QB Deshaun Watson fumbled the snap. Patriots Linebacker Dont’a Hightower recovered the ball, giving the Patriots great field position. Three plays later, Brady found Gronk in the end zone for a touchdown.After that touchdown, the Patriots had the lead throughout while the Texans played catch-up the entire time.
If Watson didn't fumble that snap, we could have seen a different game be played out. But, as the old saying goes, it is what it is.
Fox Fist Bump
The Fox Fist Bump goes to none other than to WR Phillip Dorsett. The Patriots WR corp needed a player to step up with WR Julian Edelman out facing a 4-game suspension for PEDs. Enter Phillip Dorsett. His stat line of 7 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown was impressive. But it was the fact that every time Brady looked his way, Dorsett caught the ball. Seven targets, seven catches.
Eh there weren’t that many meatballs in this one other than the turnovers by Gronk and McCarron. Just gotta hold onto the ball better.
Play of the Game
Gronk Being Gronk
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