By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Concerns over the Patriots’ lack of receivers were alleviated just a little bit Sunday afternoon.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski continue to be a match made in heaven on the football field, but a strong game from receiver Phillip Dorsett in Week 1 should make the Foxboro faithful feel a little better about life without Julian Edelman over the next three weeks. Dorsett finished Sunday’s 27-20 win over the Texans with a career-high seven receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.
He dominated New England’s final drive of the first half, hauling in three catches for 30 yards, including a four-yard touchdown. He beat Texans corner Kevin Johnson with a nice move in the end zone to get open, and become the 69th different receiver to catch a touchdown pass from Tom Brady.
“It was big. We needed something; we needed to get into the end zone because that defense was stout,” he said of his first career touchdown as a member of the Patriots. “They were stopping us on some things where we just needed to get a few plays going, just get in a groove, and get in the end zone.”
Dorsett’s breakout performance earned praise from Brady following the victory.
“Phillip did a great job, got some opportunity and then came up with the plays, came up with the catches. It’s kind of what he’s been doing all camp, all spring and it was good to see it show up today,” said Brady. “We needed it. We need everybody who’s out there to make plays. We’re not out there to punt, but we’ve got to string more good plays together in order to score more points.”
“I would say I’m most happy about the execution,” said Dorsett. “I worked really hard this offseason as an individual and as a team, just trying to get this thing down, just getting the timing down with Tom. We spent days during periods and after periods, after practice, just trying to execute. Just trying to get it together. I’m just happy we executed today, honestly. That’s the biggest plus.”
Five of Dorsett’s seven receptions moved the chains for the Patriots on Sunday. After catching just 12 passes in his first season in New England, he looked like a confident veteran who understands the complex offensive system against the Texans.
“I would say the confidence comes with the hard work,” Dorsett told reporters. “Just getting into a groove and knowing what you have to do and knowing what to do versus man and versus zone. Also not having to worry about what you have to do when you get out of the huddle. My confidence is a big boost.”
It’s clear that Dorsett has earned the trust of Brady, which must be another giant stimulus to his confidence.
“I think if you’re out there, I trust you, the coaches trust you, the team trusts you. That’s why we’re putting you out there,” said Brady, who completed 26 of his 39 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns. “So, guys that usually we don’t trust don’t get much opportunity out there. So, Phillip did a great job with his opportunity.”
The Patriots will need another solid afternoon from Dorsett next weekend when they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars and their talented secondary. With his confidence soaring right now, the Patriots have to feel pretty good about the fifth-year receiver taking advantage of another opportunity to shine.