Best and Worst: Patriots 36, Texans 33
COOKS HOT EARLY
With Texans bodies buzzing the tower early in the game, Tom Brady set up the first Patriots touchdown with a 44-yard rainbow on third-and-13 to Brandin Cooks.
On a Deshaun Watson throw that had not a prayer in the world of being completed, Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore laid hands on DeAndre Hopkins drawing a 34-yard DPI. Hopkins was trying to go through Gilmore but Gilmore didn’t need to half-embrace him.
On the two plays after the long DPI, Gilmore made terrific track-down tackles along the sidelines. On one he ran Bruce Ellington down on a reverse and then next he flung Ellington to the ground after a short reception near the sidelines.
FLIPPING THE FIELD
Shane Lechler’s 68-yard bouncing, knuckling put from his own 26 to the Patriots 6 was followed by a Tom Brady sack that put the ball at the New England 2 which was followed by a 36-yard Ryan Allen punt which was followed by a 29-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson to Bruce Ellington. Little things.
BETTER AGAINST BREES
Jonathan Jones, who had two terrific pass breakups last week at New Orleans, was victimized down the seam on the touchdown pass to Ellington.
GRONK GROIN GOOD
After missing the tail end of last week’s game against the Saints, Rob Gronkowski was back on the field. He had three catches for 30 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
GILMORE DRAWS ANOTHER
DeAndre Hopkins drew a 15-yard penalty when he made a catch on the sideline and stepped immediately out of bounds. Stephon Gilmore, who started the diving tackle attempt before Hopkins stepped out of bounds, whacked Hopkins on the back of the knee/calf. He was displeased at Gilmore. The reception and flag went for 28 yards.
CRISS CROSS TD
After a very easy pick thrown to Stephon Gilmore by a panicked Deshaun Watson, the Patriots scored on their first play of the drive when Chris Hogan got loose on a simple end zone crossing route that the Texans butchered.
SUPERIOR ARM STRENGTH
Watson, who had Deatrich Wise hauling him to the turf on a third-and-10 play, saved his team the sack and somehow got enough mustard on his throw to the left flat to get a 4-yard gain leading to a field goal.
Whitney Mercilus came off the left edge, stepped around Nate Solder and strip-sacked Tom Brady who fumbled (kinda looked like it should have been ruled a pass to me) and saw it returned for a touchdown by Jadeveon Clowney.
Early in the third quarter, Brady found rookie tight end Jacob Hollister in the seam for a sizable gain and he took a sizable hit in the shoulder from cornerback Johnathan Joseph that de-cleated Hollister and left him on the turf for a minute before he made his way to the sideline.
NOT GONNA GET HIM
After a well-designed play fake moved the entire Texans front-seven to the left, Brady had loads of time to find a crossing Brandin Cooks running across the middle for a 42-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
While in the grasp of Jadeveon Clowney and heading to the turf, Tom Brady saw Rob Gronkowski standing nearby and flipped a backhanded pass to Gronk for an 8-yard gain.
KYLE VAN NOOOOO!!!!
Kyle Van Noy tried to undercut a throw on the sidelines to D’Onta Foreman which quickly turned into a 34-yard completion to put the Texans in field goal range early in the fourth.
WATSON WON'T GO DOWN
With the Patriots desperately needing a stop they had Deshaun Watson on the run and missed him four times in the backfield before he slipped loose and came up with a 34-yard completion to keep Houston's late drive alive.