The Patriots entered tonight’s game against the Texans as slight underdogs at home, despite a history of destroying Houston anytime they had a chance, especially at home. The Patriots were starting a rookie quarterback, the Texans came in hot at 2-0, and Gronk looked banged up, but the Patriots are apparently unkillable, and they smoked the poor Houstonians 27-0.
Somehow, that scoreline fails to communicate how thoroughly bad the Texans were. It took them 44 minutes of football to simply cross midfield for the first time. Brock Osweiler led them all the way to New England’s 36-yard line on that drive, where he promptly threw a slant right in Patriots CB Malcolm Butler’s face just like Russell Wilson did. He was lucky Butler didn’t take it all the way back for a touchdown.
And that was the best drive they mustered! Most others ended in despair, and a few never even started. Right after Stephen Gostkowski kicked the games opening score in, Charles James II gave up the ball on the ensuing kickoff. After Gostkowski opened the scoring in the second half, he kicked it off and once again the Texans’ return man fumbled it. This time it was Tyler Ervin. Both fumbles resulted in quick touchdowns for New England.
On the very next play after James’s fumble, Jacoby Brissett scampered 22 yards through the defense for a very easy touchdown.
It’s telling that Brissett didn’t really have to do much of anything to earn his first win as a starter. He just sort of showed up, ripped that incredible run, and watched Houston trip over their dicks for an hour. He made a nice play earlier in the game on a read option run, but he only went 11-for-19 for 103 yards. The Patriots didn’t need anything more from him, because their opponents were busy falling down and fumbling the ball.
After the second fumble, the Texans gifted the Patriots a first-and-goal at the 1-yard-line thanks to a pass interference on Martellus Bennett on a post-up route. After two hard-fought plays, Houston had New England at third-and-goal from the two only to commit another pass interference penalty. On Martellus Bennett. On a post-up. LeGarrette Blount scored on the next play.
The Texans probably aren’t this bad (DeAndre Hopkins is still good!), but this was a rather discouraging result for a group trying to assert itself among the AFC’s best. Tonight was the first time they’ve been shut out in the regular season since 2003, and Bill O’Brien’s team has shown a remarkable propensity to turn into a pumpkin heading into big games.
It’s too early to tell if Brock Osweiler is worth all that money, or, conversely, if the Patriots defense can regularly win them games. It’s Week Three after all, but it certainly looks like Tom Brady has a very good team to come back to.