Patriots-Texans Live Blog: Brady, Cooks Lead Pats To Incredible Comeback Win

By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

Follow along for all the updates as the Patriots host the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium!

Final — Patriots 36, Texans 33

Houston’s Hail Mary is picked off and the Patriots survive to improve to 2-1 on the season. What an incredible win for the Patriots, who looked lost for most of the fourth quarter.

It wasn’t easy and it was occasionally ugly, but Brady led yet another late-game comeback. He finished the day with five touchdown passes and 378 yards, including the game-winner to Brandin Cooks with 23 seconds left on the clock.

There are concerns about the New England defense after Deshaun Watson looked like a seasoned vet for much of the game, but the Patriots escape with a win heading into next Sunday’s showdown with the Carolina Panthers.

4th Quarter, 00:02: Watson hit Hopkins for 25 yards in the middle of the field to the Houston 46, but the Texans let five seconds burn off the clock before calling a timeout.

4th Quarter, 00:23 — Patriots 36, Texans 33

You may have heard this before, but Brady has led the Patriots back to give them a late fourth-quarter lead. Even with Clowney nearly getting to Brady, the quarterback delivered a strike to Cooks at the front of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. Cooks got both feet in and held onto the ball as he tumbled out of bounds. The play was reviewed and upheld, and then Cooks brought in the two-point conversion to make it a three-point Patriots lead.

Simply incredible. Five touchdowns for Brady on the day, with Cooks hauling in two of them. Brady was 5-for-7 for 92 yards and a touchdown on the drive.

4th Quarter, 00:42: Brady felt the pressure on third-and-18, but goes upstairs to Danny Amendola for a 26-yard gain.

4th Quarter, 00:54: Brady was hit as he threw and fumbled again on first down, but the Pats were lucky enough to get the ball, albeit for an 8-yard loss. Brady was nearly picked off by Corey Moore on a deep bid for Cooks on second down, but the safety couldn’t hang on to the ball as he hit the ground.

4th Quarter, 1:28: Brady delivers a dart to a wide open Brandin Cooks, who got some separation from Kareem Jackson for 18 yards to the Houston 44.

4th Quarter, 1:50: Third-and-12 and Brady goes to Gronk for 15 yards.

4th Quarter, 2:00: Two minutes to go in this one with the Patriots down and in need of a touchdown.

Brady hit Gronk on second-and-20 but it only picked up eight yards.

4th Quarter, 2:11: Brady and Cooks couldn’t connect over the middle on second down, but the Pats were flagged for holding and will now face a second-and-20.

4th Quarter, 2:24 — Texans 33, Patriots 28

The Patriots need a touchdown, as Fairbairn booted a 36-yarder to add to Houston’s lead.

Brady and the Patriots offense should be well-rested after two straight three-and-outs. They’ll have one timeout and the 2-minute warning to find the end zone.

4th Quarter, 2:28: Lamar Miller tried to get that one yard up the middle, but a wall of Patriots defenders kept him from doing so. The Patriots use their second timeout, as the Texans will have to settle for a field goal to extend their lead to five points.

4th Quarter, 2:34: The Patriots use their first timeout, with the Texans about to face a third-and-1 at the New England 18.

4th Quarter, 5:15: The Patriots don’t look like they want to win this game. Watson just made something out of nothing on a first-and-20, eluding a trio of would-be New England tacklers before hitting Foreman for a 31-yard catch and run to the New England 46.

The Texans will be in “kill the clock” mode from now on. The Pats are in some serious trouble right now.

4th Quarter, 6:05: Brady went to Gronk on third-and-1, and they couldn’t connect. Marcus Gilchrist made a nice play to get his left hand in there and make it a tough snag for Gronk.

That’s two straight three-and-outs for the Patriots. Both times they had a third-and-1 and couldn’t convert. That’s an issue.

There was shot at a Brady sneak on either of them, as the QB was lined up in shotgun.

4th Quarter, 7:19: The Pats D comes up with a big stop, as Waston wildly overthrows Braxton Miller on third down.

He’s starting to look more like a rookie, missing a pair of big throws on that drive.

The Pats will take over a their own 7-yard line after Amendola called for a fair catch. He probably should have let that one go into the back of the end zone.

4th Quarter, 9:07: Facing a third-and-2, Watson calls his own number and picks up seven yards up the middle. The New England D is gassed right now.

4th Quarter, 11:01: The fans are not happy with the Patriots right now, as the punting unit takes the field after Gillislee was stuffed on a third-and-1 run up the middle. The back picked up nine yards on his first two runs of the possession, but then hit a wall in 305-pound defensive end Christian Covington.

The Patriots go three-and-out after the Texans take the lead. Not ideal, especially for a New England defense that has spent a lot of time on the field on this warm afternoon in Foxboro.

The Texans will have the ball at their own 13 after a booming kick from Ryan Allen. The Pats’ punter needed that after some bad kicks earlier today.

4th Quarter, 12:13, Texans 30, Patriots 28 

Fairbairn puts a 31 yarder through the uprights to give the Texans the lead. The Texans would have preferred a touchdown, but the three points capped off an impressive 12-play drive that covered 67 yards.

The Patriots D better start coming up with some stops.

4th Quarter, 12:17: Facing a third-and-3, Watson went Anderson’s way in the end zone but his bid was way too high for the tight end. Flags hit the field for a defensive holding, but officials picked them up after a brief chat. This did not make Bill O’Brien a happy man.

4th Quarter, 13:40: Kyle Van Noy went for a pick (possibly a pick-six) but instead Foreman plucks it out of the air and races 34 yards down the sideline before being pushed out at the New England 20. Really bad miss/gamble by Van Noy.

4th Quarter, 14:50: The drive continues as D’Onta Foreman dives for four yards to pick up a first down.

End 3rd Quarter — Patriots 28, Texans 27

The Patriots are clinging to a one-point lead as we head into the final 15 minutes of this one. The Texans will face a third-and-1 at their own 39-yard line when play resumes.

3rd Quarter, 00:45: Watson had all the time in the world, and Ellington made a great bobbling catch over Jonathan Jones.

3rd Quarter, 1:42: Stephon Gilmore is back for the Patriots, as the Texans start their drive on their own 22-yard line.

3rd Quarter, 1:49: The call stands, costing the Texans a timeout. The Patriots were going to have to punt either way, so it’s a questionable challenge by Billy O.

3rd Quarter, 1:49: Yikes, more pressure by the Texans on Brady, as the QB is brought down by Watt and Clowney before Mercilus comes in at the end.

Brady made an incredible heads-up play to flip the ball to Gronk as he went down, and the tight end even picked up eight yards. It’s not enough to keep the drive alive, though, and it may not even be an eight-yard pickup as Bill O’Brien has challenged that Brady’s knee was down before the got rid of the ball.

3rd Quarter,2:57: Another sack on Brady, this time by Christian Covington who crushed Brady’s arm and forced a fumble. Shaq Mason pounced on the ball, but it brings up a third-and-16 for the Patriots.

3rd Quarter, 7:12 — Patriots 28, Texans 27

Watson didn’t look like a rookie on his latest throw, sending a pass behind Griffin in the back of the end zone for another touchdown. McCourty had some good coverage on the play, but Griffin came down with a nice grab.

Watson is up to 177 passing yards on the day with two touchdowns. He led the Texans on a beautiful 10-play drive that covered 70 yards in 5:33.

The 27-year-old Griffin is a Londonderry, New Hampshire native and was a sixth-round pick out of UConn in 2013. He has five receptions for 61 yards to go with that touchdown.

The Patriots secondary missed Gilmore on that drive. He is dealing with dehydration and is questionable to return.

3rd Quarter, 9:15: Watson has completed his last six passes, as he hits Griffin for a 35-yard pickup on second-and-22. The tight end was wide open, and picked up an extra seven yards after the catch as he eluded some would-be tacklers.

The Texans are not going away.

3rd Quarter, 10:20: Cassius Marsh picks up a sack of Watson, knocking the ball out of the QBs hands as he hit him from behind. The Texans fell on the loose ball though.

3rd Quarter, 10:55: Stephon Gilmore has made his way to the New England locker room. It’s unclear why he’s being looked at, but it could have something to do with how hot it is.

3rd Quarter, 12:45 — Patriots 28, Texans 20

Holy smokes Brandin Cook is really, really fast. The receiver caught a pass from Brady over the middle and turned on the jets for a 42-yard touchdown — his first with the Patriots. Cooks outran Jonathan Banks on the play, showing off the playmaking ability we’ve been waiting to see from him in a Patriots uniform.

Brady went 5-for-5 on the drive, and now has four touchdown passes on the day. It’s the 27th time in his career that Brady has thrown four touchdowns in a game.

3rd Quarter, 13:04: Jacob Hollister just made a nice 20-yard grab, but took a huge hit from Jonathan Joseph after the catch and is being checked out on the sideline. Amazing how he was able to hold onto the football after taking a pretty big blow.

Halftime — Patriots 21, Texans 20

What a weird half of football, as the Patriots take a one-point lead into the locker room.

Brady is 10-for-17 with 162 yard and has three more touchdown passes, including two to Chris Hogan. Hogan has been left wide open by the Texans defense and has four catches for 68 yards. Brady’s other touchdown toss went to Rob Gronkowski, who has three receptions for 30 yards.

There has been no run game for New England, however. They have just 39 rush yards on 12 attempts, with James White leading the way with 16 yards on four carries. The Pats are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry today.

The Pats D has done a good job keeping rookie QB Deshaun Watson from running wild, but he’s 12-for-16 for 123 yards, a touchdown and an interception on the day. Houston got seven of their points off of a Brady fumble, courtesy of a Mercilus sack and touchdown return by Clowney. It’s been a rough day for the New England offensive line, as Brady has been sacked three times and pressured often.

The Patriots get the ball to start the second half.

2nd Quarter, 00:43: The Patriots are facing third down as Brady comes up short on back-to-back passes to Cooks and Amendola. Yes, you read that right. Two bad passes, in a row, by Tom Brady.

He may be hearing some footsteps as we make our way to halftime.

2nd Quarter, 1:02: A 21-yard return by Amendola has the Patriots set up at their own 30.

2nd Quarter, 1:13: Big stuff by Cassius Marsh, as the Texans tried to keep their drive alive with a run up the middle by Lamar Miller on third-and-1. Marsh had other plans, and the Patriots will get another shot at adding to their slim lead just before halftime.

2nd Quarter, 2:00: The Texans keep their drive alive thanks to an 11-yard connection between Watson and tight end Ryan Griffin on third-and-5.

A Patriots stop would have forced the Texans to punt deep in their own zone, but that is not the case. Though the Pats D couldn’t come up with a stop on third down, Malcolm Butler has made two great tackles on Hopkins after short catches on the current drive. Butler is playing with some fire today, as he had some words for the receiver after one of those tackles.

2nd Quarter, 3:58 — Patriots 21, Texans 20

The call stands so Brady’s connection with Hogan goes in the books as a touchdown. Another three-touchdown first half for Brady, who is up to 162 passing yards for the day. Hogan has a pair of touchdown grabs and 68 yards off of his four catches.

2nd Quarter, 3:58: The Texans are having a tough time covering Chris Hogan. And by that, I mean they are not covering Chris Hogan.

Hogan was wide open over the middle, and Brady hit him for a 47-yard catch-and-run touchdown. The play is being reviewed, as Hogan’s knee may have been on the ground before the ball crossed the plane.

It may not go as a touchdown, but the Texans probably want to keep a body on Hogan the rest of the afternoon.

2nd Quarter, 6:15 — Texans 20, Patriots 14

Well that escalated quickly. Brady was hit by Mercilus from his blindside, the ball went up in the air and came down in the hands of Clowney, who scampered 22 yards for a touchdown.

Mercilus ran right by Solder on the play, taking advantage of the clear path to the quarter. He and Clowney have been hounding Brady all day.

Another tough week for the New England offensive line, who have given up eight sacks on the season so far.

2nd Quarter, 7:34 — Patriots 14, Texans 13

Wise had another sack, but Watson somehow got a pass off to running back Tyler Ervin as he was being brought to the ground. Impressive play by the rookie on third down.

But the four-yard reception wasn’t enough to keep the drive alive, and the Texans settled for a 40-yard field goal from Fairbaim.

2nd Quarter, 8:38: Free yards for the Texans as Gilmore was just flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for going low on Hopkins. The Texans receiver hauled in a 13-yard reception from Watson, and Gilmore went low trying to knock him out of bounds. Didn’t look like a terrible offense by Gilmore, but it has the Texans set up at the New England 26.

2nd Quarter, 9:24: Watson takes off again on third down for the third time this afternoon, and this time he gets enough to move the chains. With Devin McCourty hovering around the line, Watson dove to pick up the first down on a six-yard pickup.

2nd Quarter, 12:25 — Patriots 14, Texans 10

That was easy. After faking a handoff, Brady found a WIDE OPEN Chris Hogan in the end zone to put the Patriots back on top. There were no Texans defensive backs in Hogan’s area code, with most of them paying quite a bit of attention to Brandon Cooks on the other side. Hogan ran a cross route perfectly, as a pair of Houston defensive backs ran into each other to help Hogan get so wide open.

2nd Quarter, 12:57: Well this should provide a big confidence boost for Stephon Gilmore.

The Patriots brought the pressure on Watson, courtesy of rookie Deatrich Wise, who forced a deep ball to DeAndre Hopkins down the field. Watson’s bad throw went right into the hands of Gilmore for his first interception in the Patriots uniform, and his 39-yard return has the Patriots set up at the Houston 12.

2nd Quarter, 14:50: Brady went to Gronk on third down, but the tight end was quickly wrapped up by a trio of Texans short of the first down marker. So the Patriots will punt it away again to start the second quarter.

End of 1st Quarter — Texans 10, Patriots 7

Look out, Tom! Clowney just turned Nate Solder into a turnstile and demolished Brady for his second sack of the afternoon. Watt was also bringing some pressure up the middle, sending Joe Thuney into Solder, allowing Clowney to get free.

Somehow, Brady held onto the ball, setting up a third-and-13 for the Patriots when play resumes.

That play brings us to the end of the quarter. Brady is 5-for-9 for 85 yards and a touchdown to Gronkowski. Watson is 4-for-6 for 63 yards and a touchdown toss, picking up another 10 yards on a pair of carries.

1st Quarter, 1:37: The Patriots get lucky, as Gronk fumbled after making a nice grab down the sidelines but the ball went out of bounds after being batted around by some diving Houston defenders.

It goes in the books as a 22-yard reception from Gronkowski, and the Patriots will have the ball at their own 47.

Clowney was shaken up on the play, but is remaining in the game.

1st Quarter, 1:51 — Texans 10, Patriots 7

The Texans took full advantage of that short field, as Watson threaded one to Bruce Ellington in the end zone for a 29-yard scoring strike. The receiver got a good jump on Jonathan Jones and made a nice grab in the end zone to give the Texans the lead.

1st Quarter, 2:31: The Texans will have some great field position, as the Patriots were forced to punt from deep in their own zone. Houston will take over at the New England 44 following a 36-yard punt by Ryan Allen.

1st Quarter, 3:40: New turf curse? Brady tripped over the right foot of Mike Gillislee on a second down playfake, and the Patriots will face a third-and-14 at their own 2-yard line. Clowney got credit for a sack on the play.

1st Quarter, 4:23: The Patriots D stands tall again, forcing another Houston three-and-out after Chung and Van Noy keep Watson from picking up a first down on a third-down scramble.

The offense will have their work cut out for them though, as Shane Lechler booted a 68-yard punt that Danny Amendola didn’t want to handle, and was downed at the New England 6.

1st Quarter, 5:59: The Patriots can’t add to their lead as they go three-and-out. Brady went to Dwayne Allen with a short pass on first down, but the tight end couldn’t hang on to it as his struggles continue.

James White picked up six yards on second down, but Chris Hogan picked up just three yards on a short third-down pass by Brady thanks to some good tackling by Jonathan Banks (a Houston corner, not the guy who plays Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad). So that Patriots come up a yard short of keeping the drive alive.

1st Quarter, 7:27 — Patriots 7, Texans 3

The Texans are on the board after Ka’imi Fairbairn boots a 39-yard field goal.

The Houston drive covered 57 yards in six plays, with that big penalty by Gilmore only costing the Patriots three points.

1st Quarter, 7:44: Or not. The Texans lined up but then burned their first timeout when they couldn’t draw the Patriots D offsides.

1st Quarter, 7:44: The Texans are going for it on fourth-and-2 after a Watson draw play came up just short of moving the chains.

1st Quarter, 9:46: Stephon Gilmore was flagged for pass interference on DeAndre Hopkins, costing the Patriots 34 yards. The penalty sets the Texans up at the New England 43.

Hopkins is getting plenty of attention today, with both Gilmore and Duron Harmon on him.

1st Quarter, 10:33 — Patriots 7, Texans 0

Gronk is back. The Pats score first as Brady hits his tight end with a five-yard touchdown to cap off a seven-play, 51-yard scoring drive. That’s TD reception No. 70 and touchdown No. 71 for Gronk in his career.

Gronk played all eight snaps of that drive (one was a penalty on Houston). The big play of the drive was Brady’s deep connection with Cooks, which could be exactly what the receiver needs to break out after a tough first two weeks as a Patriot.

1st Quarter, 1st Quarter, 12:07: Big play alert, as Brady hits Cooks for a massive 44-yard gain on a deep ball down to the Houston 10-yard line. Brady was crushed by Mercilus on the play, but what a pickup on a third-and-13.

1st Quarter, 13:45: The Texans quickly go three-and-out, and it was Danny Amendola returning the punt for the Patriots. It was a welcome sign, as Amendola returned it 33 yards to the New England 49.

On New England’s defensive stand, Trey Flowers was credited with another sack

Pregame — 12:57: Several defensive players on the Patriots took a knee during the national anthem, while others stood locker arm-in-arm.

Quarterback Tom Brady stood during the anthem, locker arm-in-arm with Philip Dorsett and several other players. There was a smattering of boos from fans before and during the anthem.

Members of the Texans stood together locked arm-in-arm on their sideline.

Pregame — 12:54 p.m.: Nate Solder is out on the field and it looks like he’s going to play.

Great news for the Patriots against that tough Texans defense. Maybe Brady’s uniform won’t get so dirty after all.

Pregame — 12:43 p.m.: Asked about the team’s leadership and whether anything had to be said ahead of today’s game about national anthem protests, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said the team handles all of that in-house. He did not seem too eager to expand.

“We handle all of those things internally and will continue to do that,” Belichick told Scott Zolak on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Patriots Preview.

We’ll see if the Patriots have any protest of their own in the next 20 minutes.

Pregame — 12:27 p.m.: Nate Solder is not on the field for the Patriots, and that’s kind of a big deal.

The left tackle is active and didn’t show up on the injury report at all this week, so whatever he’s dealing with must have popped up early today. Without Solder, Cameron Fleming was seen at left tackle during warmups, with LaAdrian Waddle over on the right side in place of the injured Marcus Cannon.

Keeping the likes of Mercilus, Clowney and Watt away from Brady was going to be tough enough for the Patriots offensive line without Cannon, but if Solder is out too it could be a long day for No. 12.

Pregame — 12:00 p.m.: Something to keep an eye on during today’s game is the new field that was installed at Gillette Stadium last week. The Patriots replaced the FieldTurf they had just installed over the offseason after players complained it was too soft.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFLPA recently asked the Patriots to fix their turf, which they found was “borderline actionable” after sending a field inspector to the stadium:

Concerned about the new playing surface at Gillette Stadium, the NFLPA has asked the New England Patriots to repair what it believes to be a field that poses an injury risk to players, according to NFLPA assistant executive director George Atallah.

“It’s a reminder to all teams that they can’t have players on [shoddy] fields,” Atallah said.

Schefter’s report said that inspection of the field found it “was susceptible to having cleat marks left in the surface.”

It’s not ideal to completely replace the playing surface in-season, and cleat marks being left in the field certainly doesn’t sound ideal for anyone stepping on that surface.

Pregame — 11:45 a.m.: It looks like J.J. Watt is enjoying himself at Gillette.

Pregame — 11:30 a.m.: Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola are indeed good to go for today. Dont’a Hightower is not, however, and will miss his second straight game with a knee injury.

The Patriots released their list of inactives for today’s game, a list highlighted by Hightower and tackle Marcus Cannon. With Cannon out, Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle will be tasked with blocking a tough Texans pass rush.

Those are two HUGE absences for New England this afternoon.

And with corner Eric Rowe inactive after suffering a groin injury last Sunday, Malcolm Butler will likely be back in his starting role in the New England secondary. Jonathan Jones will also find himself playing a bigger role after a strong performance last week in New Orleans.

Here is the full list of Patriots inactives today:

Defensive lineman Geneo Grissom was signed to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on Friday and is active for the Patriots.

Pregame — 11:15 a.m.: It’s a warm and beautiful day at Gillette Stadium, as the Patriots look to build off of their 36-20 win over the Saints against Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans. For Houston, this is their third visit to Foxboro in just over a year.

The Pats and Texans are pretty familiar with each other, having met twice last season in Week 3 and the Divisional Round, while also getting together for joint practice sessions ahead of their preseason tilt just over a month ago. That familiarity hasn’t helped Houston much though, as the former Patriots offensive coordinator is 0-3 against his old squad.

As for today’s game, Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola both proclaimed themselves good to go on Friday, so Tom Brady should have two of his most reliable targets on the field as he looks to build off his monster performance in New Orleans. Brady will be without Rex Burkhead, who was declared out on Friday with a rib injury, and he could be without his starting right tackle in Marcus Cannon as well. Cannon is questionable with an ankle injury and concussion, and we’ll know for sure if he’ll be blocking for Brady and company when the inactives are released at 11:30 a.m..

On defense, all eyes will be on New England’s corner duo of Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler. Gilmore has looked underwhelming in the defense after signing a big deal this offseason, and Butler was benched in Week 2 after a tough preseason and Week 1 against Kansas City. We’ll see if Butler is back as a starter this afternoon and if Gilmore can put it together with a couple of games under his belt.

The Patriots defense will be looking to make rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson beat them with his arm and not his legs, as he did last Thursday against the Bengals. Rookie quarterbacks are 0-8 against Belichick in Foxboro, and Belichick teams are 15-5 overall against rookie passers.

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