Ryan L. Fox
They say that the hardest opponents are those who know you the best. This past Sunday, the New England Patriots were at home as they were set to square off against an all-too-familiar foe in the Houston Texans. It wasn’t a divisional rival but with the amount of times they played each other, plus the fact that the Texans’ coaching staff was filled with former Pats coaches and players under Bill O’Brien, Pats fans knew this wouldn’t be an easy game.
Unlike last week where the game was over by the 1st half, the Patriots were in a barnburner. The Pats got on the scoreboard first with a 5-yard touchdown from Brady to TE Rob Gronkowski for an early 7-0. However the Pats defense allowed the Texans to go up 10-7 as the visitors led going into the second quarter.
However early on in the second quarter, Pats DB Stephan Gilmore intercepted a pass by Texans QB Deshaun Watson at the Pats 49 and returned it to the Houston 12. From there, Brady threw his second touchdown of the game to WR Chris Hogan as the Pats regained the lead 14-10.
After giving up a Texans field goal, the Patriots got the ball back. However on 2nd and 7 at their 28, Brady was sacked by Texans LB Witney Mercilus as he was about to the throw the ball. The ball then hung in the air as Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney plucked the ball out of the air and ran it in for a touchdown to give his team a brief 20-14. The reason why it was so brief was because on the next Patriots possession, Brady found Hogan again for a 47-yard touchdown to give the Pats a 21-20 lead going into halftime.
Because the Patriots won the toss and deferred to the second half, they received the ball to begin the third quarter. The Pats wasted no time, taking 5 plays and 2:15 off the clock as Brady found wideout Brandin Cooks for a 42 yard touchdown, giving Cooks his first touchdown in a Pats uniform and his team a 28-20 lead.
However the Patriots offense began to stall at that point, going scoreless for the rest of the quarter and into the 4th quarter. During that same span, the Texans hung around. They first pulled within 1 point with Watson connecting with TE Ryan Griffin for 12-yards to makes it 28-27. Two more field goals, including the second one with a little under 2:30 to go in the game, by Texans K Kai’imi Fairbairn gave the Texans a 33-28 lead.
But the Texans left too much time on the clock for Brady and company. The future hall-of-fame QB led the Pats down the field, escaping two potential game-ending turnovers (missed fumble and dropped interception). Then with 29 seconds left in the game, Brady was able to find Cooks in the end zone for a 25-yard dagger into the hearts of Texans fans, giving his team the lead and the win on the final score of 36-33.
Patriots' Top Performers
QB Tom Brady: 30-for-39, 447 yards, 3 TDs
WR Brandin Cooks: 5 catches for 131 yards, 2 TDs
WR Chris Hogan: 4 catches for 68 yards, 2 TDs
TE Rob Gronkowski: 8 catches for 89 yards, 1 TD
DB Stephen Gilmore: 4 tackles, 1 INT, 1 pass defended
DE Trey Flowers: 6 tackles (3 solo, 3 assists), 1.0 sack
LB Kyle Van Noy: 11 tackles (9 solo, 2 assists)
Cooking With Fire
While the temperatures where close to the 80s, one Patriots player was even hotter. After two weeks of mediocrity, wideout Brandin Cooks erupted. He finished the game with 5 catches for 131 and two touchdowns, including the game winner where he just tapped his toes in bounds. By the looks of things, it seems that Cooks trade might be starting to pay off dividends.
Fox Fist Bump
Question: How do you follow up a game where you went 30-for-39 with 447 yards and 3 TDs?
Answer: You follow it up with a game where you go 25-for-35 with 375 yards and 5 TDs!
Tom Brady was definitely on his game in this one. Also another Fox Fist Bump for getting your 50th career comeback victory.
And for all you stat nerds and football historians, this was Brady’s 27th game of throwing 4+ TDs in a single game, placing him third all-time behind Peyton Manning and Brett Farve. Also, it was Brady’s 6th career game of 5+ TD passes and no interceptions, tying him with Dan Marino on the all-time list in that category (current leader is Drew Brees with 7 games). Maybe, dare I say, Brady at 40 is 10 times the quarterback than Brady at 30.
I would give the meatball to the entire Patriots offensive line. Even though the team won, Brady was under fire all day. He was sacked 5 times, which lead to 3 fumbles including one that was returned for a touchdown by Houston. Not to mention you barely opened up any holes for the running game (59 yards total), which could have helped alleviate the Texans pass rush. If there is any shot of making it to Super Bowl LII, the Pats offensive line needs to play better regardless of who their opponent is.
Play of the Game
The Game Winner
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