By Danny Cox
The New England Patriots didn’t jump out to a big lead and they didn’t figure out how to pull away from the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon, but they did manage to pick up the win. Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson led a Texans’ offense that provided a lot more trouble than anyone could have expected, and with less than two minutes to go, Houston was in place to leave Week 3 with a huge victory.
Unfortunately for them, they left more than enough time on the clock for Tom Brady to step out on the field, do his thing, and let Brandin Cooks showcase his immense talent to give the Pats a 36-33 win.
It wasn’t a perfect showing or one that will go down in the record books as one of the best outings of all time, but the Patriots offense knew what needed to be done when their backs were against the wall. The running game was virtually nonexistent and it just didn’t work on Sunday against the Texans. That is why the passing game had to be on point.
Brady finished the day with 378 yards on 25-of-35 passing with five touchdowns, but his last one was the most important. Cooks caught his first two touchdowns as a member of the Patriots, but again, his last one was the most important. No one could stop the duo of Rob Gronkowski (89 yards on eight receptions) and Brady for that matter, either.
The other big issue, though, is that Brady was sacked five times as he was pressured the entire day by the Texans.
Deshaun Watson didn’t look like much of a rookie out there as he threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans QB kept his team within reach of a huge upset all afternoon. The Patriots were out-gained by the Texans in total yardage and allowed four Houston receivers to collect more than 59 yards through the air.
New England did sack Watson twice and intercepted him twice, but giving up 26 points (the Texans scored a defensive touchdown when Brady was strip sacked) to any offense is nothing to write home about. Something seemed off all day with the Patriots defense, and it needs to be fixed in a hurry as the offense shouldn’t be expected to put up almost 40 points each week for a win.
Special Teams: B
Stephen Gostkowski hit all four of his extra point attempts and did his job for the day. Ryan Allen was quite busy with six punts on Sunday and he did his job as well by pinning the Texans inside their own 20-yard-line on three of those occasions.
The return game still isn’t bringing much to the table, even though Danny Amendola did bring some excitement with a 33-yard punt return.
It’s still difficult to know what is going on in the mind of Bill Belichick. The New England Patriots are 2-1, but they’ve looked extremely out of sync in two of the three games so far this season. Something just appears to be off even though it looked like it was fixed in the win over the New Orleans Saints last week. While there were some impressive moments here and there, it just appeared as if the well-oiled machine had a few kinks in it.
Up Next: Momentum is on their side as they head into next Sunday’s game against the No. 1 defense in the league in the Carolina Panthers. The good thing is that the very same Saints team the Patriots defeated just torched the Panthers for their first win of the season. It doesn’t seem like there are a lot of problems, but some minor bumps need to be smoothed out so each week isn’t an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter.