BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots fell to the Texans on Sunday night, which led to a tumble in the AFC standings. With their 28-22 loss in Houston, plus a Ravens win over the 49ers on Sunday afternoon, New England fell to the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
The struggles continued for the Patriots offense, as Tom Brady completed just 24 of his 47 passes for 326 yards, three second-half touchdowns and an interception. Most of those numbers came in the fourth quarter as the Patriots fought back. New England actually finished with more first downs (29-to-16), total yards (448-to-276) and easily won the time of possession battle (34:35-to-25:25), but the Texans handled them fairly easily throughout the game.
Brady threw a bad pick on New England’s second possession, with the team up 3-0 at the time. Bradley Roby undercut N’Keal Harry’s route and intercepted the Pats QB, changing the momentum of the game. The Texans took over at the New England 21-yard line and needed just three plays to find the end zone, with Deshaun Watson hitting Duke Johnson for a 14-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Johnson was matched up 1-on-1 on Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, and took full advantage of that mismatch as he waltzed into the end zone.
After the Patriots punted away their next possession, the Texans marched down the field on a 13-play drive that covered 88 yards, capped off with a 13-yard touchdown connection between Watson and tight end Darren Fells. That drive was all about Houston running backs and tight ends taking advantage of their mismatches against New England’s linebackers and safeties, with Fells, Johnson, Jordan Akins and Carlos Hyde accounting for 77 of the drive’s 88 yards.
Watson was surgical at times, and gave the Texans a commanding 21-3 lead late in the third quarter with a 35-yard touchdown strike to Kenny Stills, and sealed the victory by snagging a short pass from DeAndre Hopkins on a trick play, resulting in a six-yard touchdown for the quarterback.
After allowing just four passing touchdowns over their first 11 games, the Patriots allowed four passing scores by Houston in Week 13. Watson finished with 18-for-25 for 234 yards and three touchdowns passes to go with his touchdown reception.
The Patriots did manage to get things going late in the third quarter, with Brady hitting James White for a 12-yard touchdown on a wheel route to cap off a 12-play, 75-yard drive. But the Pats didn’t snap the ball in time on their 2-point try and kicker Kai Forbath missed the long extra point, so the Patriots trailed 21-9 after their first touchdown of the game.
Brady and White added another score late in the fourth quarter, but the Pats missed the 2-point conversion and trialed 28-15 with 3:42 in the game. The Patriots made things a little more interesting with another late touchdown dive, as Brady hit Julian Edelman for a 20-yard score with 50 seconds left to make it a 28-22 game.
The Patriots nearly made another spectacular special teams play, as Brandon Bolden got a hand on Jake Bailey’s high hopper of an onside kick after the Edelman touchdown. But he pushed the ball out of bounds and Houston took over to end the game. Sunday was the first victory over Bill Belichick for Houston head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots now look to bounce back next Sunday when they welcome the 8-4 Kansas City Chiefs to Gillette Stadium.