By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
Final: Texans 27, Patriots 23
The game ended on an odd call, but nonetheless preaseason game No. 2 is in the books and the Patriots are 0-2 in games that don’t count. The horror.
Tom Brady and other first-teamers saw some action in this one (even Gronk saw the field!) and looked good in their limited action. Jimmy Garoppolo and the Patriots defense had an up-and-down game overall, giving Bill Belichick plenty of film to break down over the next week leading up to Friday night’s game in Detroit against the Lions.
Brady finished his night 6-for-9 for 67 yards and a touchdown in his two series on the field, Garoppolo went 15-for-23 for 145 yards, a touchdown and a terrible interception, and Brissett went 5-for-10 for 36 yards.
Big plays were an issue again for the New England D, as they gave up three more that went for 30+ yards (37, 33, 63).
But the best news out of this one is we’re halfway through the preseason, and a little bit closer to opening night on September 7. Friday night in Detroit will be the closest we get to a real football game until then.
4th Quarter, 00:38: Never mind, it’s not third down for the Patriots as the officials rule it a fumble that went through the end zone, giving the Texans the ball at their own 20. That’ll do it as the Texans take a knee.
4th Quarter, 00:38: After leading Cody Hollister a little too far out of bounds in the back corner of the end zone, Brissett gets hit on his second down pass attempt and throws it into the ground. Third down for the Patriots.
4th Quarter, 00:49: The chains keep moving, as Brissett hits Foster for 10 yards on 3rd-and-9, setting up a 1st-and-goal for the Patriots.
4th Quarter, 1:08: A nice run by DJ Foster has the Patriots set up on the Houston 20.
4th Quarter, 2:00: The fourth quarter is all about three-and-outs, a sure sign we are smack in the middle of the preseason. The Patriots just forced another, with a Houston penalty mixed in for good measure, and will have another possession with two minutes to go.
4th Quarter, 3:52: The Patriots were forced to punt the ball away after officials ruled Devin Lucien’s third-down catch an incomplete. It looked like he was down before the defender knocked the ball out of his hands, but Belichick decided not to challenge the play.
4th Quarter, 4:55: After a pair of drives that went nowhere by each team, the Pats have the ball back at the Houston 37 after a nifty (but somewhat dangerous) 16-yard punt return by Cyrus Jones. He ran sideways after seeing a wall of Houston special teamers, but managed to escape and get down the field.
We’ll see what Jacoby Brissett can do with time dwindling in Houston.
4th Quarter, 11:00 — Texans 27, Patriots 23
Bad, Jimmy. Bad.
Garoppolo was under pressure after the Houston D didn’t bite on the play action, and instead of throwing the ball away as he rolled out, he threw it right into the hands of Denzel Rice. A 39-yard return gave Houston the ball on the New England 4, and Foreman punched it in a play later.
That’s it for Garoppolo on the night, finishing 15-for-23 for 145 yards, a touchdown and one ugly interception. Brady was seen chatting with his backup on the sidelines after that INT. Rough way for the QB to finish his evening in Houston.
4th Quarter, 11:30: Another quick three-and-out forced by the Patriots defense, as they tie up Foreman on a short third-down bid from Weeden.
Valentine is also back on the field for the D, hitting Foreman for a loss of a yard on a second-down carry.
4th Quarter, 13:16 — Patriots 23, Texans 20
Well that didn’t take too long. Garoppolo hit D.J. Foster over the middle and the running back took care of the rest, going 25 yards into the end zone for the score. It was the same play call as Rex Burkhead’s touchdown in the second quarter.
End 3rd Quarter — Texans 20, Patriots 16
The Pats offense is marching as we head into the final quarter, set up with a fresh set of downs at the Houston 38.
Garoppolo has hit Austin Carr twice on the current drive, first for 19 yards on a first-down play and again for six yards to move the chains just before the end of the quarter.
3rd Quarter, 3:05 — Texans 20, Patriots 16
Houston only gets a field goal out of that fumble recovery, likely because Brandon Weeden is now in at quarterback.
3rd Quarter, 4:04: Jimmy goes down, and out goes the football. Tony Washington Jr. had a clear path to Garoppolo and crushed him, and the Texans recover at the New England 18.
Dante Scarnecchia is not pleased with the offensive line after that one. Belichick might want to get Garoppolo outta there after that bone-crushing hit.
3rd Quarter, 4:12 — Texans 17, Patriots 16
The Texans pull ahead after DeShaun Watson put on a move on Kony Ealy in the backfield and scampered into the end zone from two yards out.
3rd Quarter, 5:07: Another big play surrendered by the New England D, this time a 63-yard catch-and-run to D’Onta Foreman. The rookie running back out of Texas made four Patriots miss, including both Cyrus and David Jones down the field.
Linebacker Elandon Roberts was also hurt on the play, colliding with Jonathan Freeny as they both went for Foreman. He was later carted off the field, so it doesn’t look good for him.
3rd Quarter, 5:58 — Patriots 16, Texans 10
New England’s lead grows to six thanks to a 42-yard field goal from Gostkowski. He’s a perfect 3-for-3 so far tonight.
3rd Quarter, 6:03: Another third-down the Patriots offense can’t convert, as Garoppolo goes too high to James O’Shaughnessy.
O’Shaughnessy is having a solid evening with four receptions for 38 yards. That was the first pass that went his way that he didn’t come down with.
3rd Quarter, 9:13: The Patriots defense forces another quick three-and-out, with Justin Coleman nearly picking off a third down pass down the sidelines.
Coleman then muffed the ensuing punt, but the Patriots were able to come up with the loose ball.
3rd Quarter, 11:05: An offensive holding on Cole Croston (you know, Cole Croston) didn’t help matters on New England’s first drive of the second half, which came to an end when Garoppolo took a third down sack.
Halftime — Patriots 13, Texans 10
It wasn’t the prettiest of halves for the Patriots, but they take a 13-10 lead into the locker room.
We got a glimpse of Tom Brady and New England’s first-team offense, including Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski. Rex Burkhead was the star for the Patriots in the first half, rushing for 20 yards while catching three passes for 50 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown.
Dion Lewis has also been impressive, making defenders miss on nearly ever run and racking up 43 total yards.
Brady finished his night 6-for-9 for 67 yards and a touchdown. Garoppolo will get some more run in the second half, but is 4-for-8 for 37 yards so far.
The defense didn’t look great to start this one and have given up 187 yards, but the Texans only have 10 points on the board. The Patriots also need to clean things up, getting flagged for four penalties for 30 yards.
2nd Quarter, 0:05: Kenny Moore just ran down the field, with a few of his steps being out of bounds, and then got hit in the head with the punt when he made it back into the field of play. Only in the preseason….
2nd Quarter, 1:00: The Pats looked content with going to the locker room with a pair of handoffs to Lewis, but the Texans called a timeout. Tom Brady didn’t look pleased, mouthing “what are you doing?” to someone from the sidelines.
Probably to Mike Vrabel, who he was jawing with quite a bit during joint practices last week.
2nd Quarter, 1:22: The Patriots D forces a quick three-and-out, so Garoppolo and Co. will get the ball one more time before the half.
2nd Quarter, 1:55 — Patriots 13, Texans 10:
The Pats pull ahead again after a nine play, 40-yard drive ends with a 51-yard field goal by Gostkowski.
Lots of Dion Lewis on the drive, who had 35 total yards.
2nd Quarter, 4:18: Mitchell appears to be OK, as he just hauled in a 8-yard pass from Garoppolo on 2nd-and-6 to move the chains for New England.
2nd Quarter, 5:07 — Texans 10, Patriots 10
The Texans turn that big play from Ellington into three points, as Ka’imi Fairbairn boots a 31-yard field goal.
2nd Quarter, 6:44: Ellington just turned a short pass from Watson over the middle into a 33-yard pickup to the New England 20. There was no one in his area code as the Patriots D gives up yet another big play this preseason.
To make matters worse, Vincent Valentine went down with what looked like a left ankle injury.
2nd Quarter, 9:14: Alan Branch is out there tonight, and just knocked down a DeShaun Watson pass at the line with one of his giant mitts. His presence provides some much-needed stability on what could be a shaky defensive line.
2nd Quarter, 9:48 — Patriots 10, Texans 7
The Pats take their first lead of the night on a 38-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
Garoppolo made a very risky pass to Brandon Bolden on third down though, never looking off the safety. It was nearly picked, but luckily fell incomplete to set up the Gostkowski boot.
There’s also some potentially bad news on the Malcolm Mitchell front:
2nd Quarter, 11:29: Cyrus Jones just got a big pick-me-up, taking Shane Lechler’s punt 32 yards to the Houston 42.
Jimmy Garoppolo is now in with the Patriots starters — minus Gronk. Dion Lewis is also out there now.
Brady went 6-for-9 for 67 yards and the score to Burkhead in his time on the field.
2nd Quarter, 11:34: Stephon Gilmore just picked up a fumble, caused by Patrick Chung, and brought it down to the Houston 5, but tight end RaShaun Allen never had control of the catch.
But it sets up a fourth down and the Texans are forced to punt.
2nd Quarter, 12:40 — Patriots 7, Texans 7: The Pats pull even with the Texans as Rex Burkhead goes across the middle of the field, grabs a quick pass from Brady and goes 22 yards untouched into the end zone.
Burkhead has two grabs for 38 yards to go with his 20 rushing yards on seven carries. Yeah, he’s going to fit in just fine in this offense and cause a lot of headaches for opposing defenses.
End 1st Quarter: Rex Burkhead is having a solid game, picking up a first down with a nice catch-and-run for 16 yards just before the break. He looks extremely comfortable in the Patriots offense so far.
But overall it was a pretty ugly first quarter for the Patriots. The Pats picked up just three first downs and 38 yards in the first quarter. The D has given up 114 yards, while also getting flagged for three penalties for 25 yards.
1st Quarter, 1:05: Brady was nearly picked off by Andre Hal on a pass to Chris Hogan, but the Texans safety couldn’t get both feet inbounds before his backside landed out of bounds.
Walt Coleman reviewed the play on those fancy tablets. Hopefully Bill won’t get his hands on those anytime this season.
1st Quarter, 1:13 — Texans 7, Patriots 0
After the Texans marched down the field, Savage found an open Jaelen Strong in the end zone for six points. Strong out-muscled Butler to get open over the middle and come down with the score.
Butler has really struggled so far in this one, giving up five catches on five targets for 71 yards and that touchdown to Strong.
Great drive by the Texans, who covered 58 yards on 11 plays. The drive was assisted by an Illegal Use Of Hands penalty on rookie Harvey Langi, who has looked like a rookie so far in this one.
Just a bad quarter for the Patriots all around.
1st Quarter, 9:19: Tom Brady made his first connection with Brandin Cooks, picking up seven yards on a second down pass. James White moved the chains on a nice four-yard pickup from Brady on 3rd-and-3, and Rex Burkhead picked up seven yards on a first-down carry.
But the drive quickly stalled when JJ Watt had his way with Joe Thuney and got to Burkhead in the backfield. Brady couldn’t connect with Edelman on a third-down slant, and the Patriots were forced to punt.
1st Quarter, 10:35: Rob Gronkowski is indeed out there, as we’ll get our first look at Tom Brady and most of his first-team offense this preseason.
Cam Fleming is getting the start at left tackle.
1st Quarter, 10:35: Very questionable playcalling by Bill O’Brien, as the Texans had marched down to the New England 7 on those penalties and a big play to Bruce Ellington over Malcolm Butler, but squander it by calling a draw play to Lamar Miller on 4th-and-7.
Miller was stuffed by the Patriots defense after only picking up a few yards, so Tom Brady and company will take the field deep in their own territory.
1st Quarter, 1st Quarter, 12:50: Another flag on the Pats’ D, this time on Kyle Van Noy for roughing the passer as he sent Tom Savage to the ground on what would have been an incomplete pass.
Maybe a questionable call, that Patriots fans will certainly question with one Mr. Walt Coleman announcing the penalty.
1st Quarter, 13:46: Tough start for Ealy, as he jumps offsides on Houston’s second play of the drive.
1st Quarter, 15:00: We’ll have to wait to see if Gronk is playing, as the Texans get the ball to begin this one.
Kony Ealy is getting the start on the edge, with just about all of New England’s defensive regulars out on the field (minus Hightower, of course, who is still on the PUP).
Pregame — 8:00 p.m.: It certainly sounds like Rob Gronkowski is preparing to play in this one.
Pregame — 7:40 p.m.: Geneo Grissom is a surprising inactive for the Patriots tonight, and it’s unclear why he won’t be suiting up for this one.
It’s disappointing as the 2015 third-round pick had a chance to stand out with New England’s two rookies on the edge both missing this game due to injuries. You can pretty much pick a name out of a hat to figure out who will be going after Houston’s quarterbacks tonight when Trey Flowers hits the bench. Maybe Kony Ealy can be the one to step up after a lackluster start to training camp.
We should see some Rex Burkhead in the backfield with Mike Gillislee missing this one with a hamstring injury. And with both Matthew Slater and Brandon King out on special teams, Jonathan Jones should get a lot of run as one of New England’s gunners.
We’ll see if Rob Gronkowski plays in this one, though it would be much more beneficial to get Dwayne Allen, James O’Shaughnnessy and Jacob Hollister some run with the first-teamers.
Pregame — 7:30 p.m.: It seems like 28-3 was a decade ago, but the Patriots are back at the scene of the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time.
The Pats will square off with the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on Saturday night as they make their way towards the regular season, and this one should have a regular season feel for at least a little bit.
Tom Brady, his new target Brandin Cooks, the always dependable Julian Edelman and other New England starters are expected to get some run in this one. We probably won’t be seeing tight end Rob Gronkowski, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary as he hasn’t played in a preseason tilt since 2012.
It’ll be nice to see Brady and Cooks get in some game reps, a preview of what should be a fun connection (unless you’re an opposing defense) once the regular season comes around. It’ll also be interesting to see how long Brady stays in, given he’s without starting left tackle Nate Solder and his backup LaAdrian Waddle. Cameron Fleming hasn’t been too impressive at protecting the quarterback in practice throughout camp, which could spell trouble for anyone taking snaps for the Patriots against an extremely talented Houston defense. Don’t be surprised if Marcus Cannon switches sides to protect Brady’s blindside.
After Brady is done, we’ll be looking to see if Jimmy Garoppolo can take some more steps forward. He struggled to start last Thursday’s preseason opener against the Jaguars before finishing his evening strong.
Over on the defensive side, we’ll see if anyone can step up along the edge of the line with both rookies Deatrich Wise Jr. and Derek Rivers out with injuries.
And if you’re wondering if there’s any leftovers of that amazing Super Bowl comeback against the Falcons, well just take a look:
Stick with our live blog for all the updates throughout the game, which you can see on WBZ-TV or listen to on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots — with kickoff set for 8pm!