Patriots

Patriots

Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer was undoubtedly excited all week to play his former team, with the hope that he could even pull off the upset.

But New England's defensive line had other plans, and unfortunately for Hoyer, he didn't have much of a chance at leading any type of offense on Sunday night.

With Patriots cornerbacks doing a commendable job in locking down Texans receivers, Hoyer wasn't given much time at all in the pocket to look for emergency options.

The only emergency was that of his own, as Hoyer was seeing stars by the end of this game thanks in part to five Patriots sacks. He also coughed up the football twice.

It was a strong performance by New England's defensive line, lead by first-year Patriots defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who had five tackles including two sacks, two forced fumbles, and tackle for a loss.

Sheard was having his way with the Texans' offensive line for most of the night, at one point prompting NBC's Chris Collinsworth to say, "This has really turned into a nightmare. Nobody can block Sheard."

Back-to-back plays in the third quarter with the Patriots up 20-6 really sum up the day for the Pats D-line. On 2nd-and-8 at the Patriots 32-yard line, Hoyer dropped back 10 yards and was strip sacked by Akiem Hicks, recovered by Malcom Brown. The play was (obviously) reversed, and Hoyer was given an incomplete pass.

On the next play, it was Sheard who got to Hoyer for the 10-yard strip sack, with the ball rolling all way back to the Houston 45-yard line, where Houston recovered and had no choice but to punt.

With the same score early in the fourth quarter, the Texans began their drive on their own 18-yard line. It lasted one play. That's when Sheard came in and strip sacked Hoyer. Brown recovered it and this time the call stood. The Patriots took over on the seven-yard line and scored three plays later.

"We just needed to do our job," Sheard said. "Stopping the run and make it unpredictable. And once we did that, we were pretty good to go."

The Patriots held Hoyer to just 155 passing yards on the night. And when T.J. Yates came in for the Texans' final offensive drive, they sacked him too.

"Feels good to win and obviously get that bitter taste out of your mouth," Sheard said. "It sucked for two weeks. It really sucked . . . we know we're better than that."