BOSTON (CBS) — That should just about do it for the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick’s crew dropped to 4-6 on the season on Sunday with a 27-20 loss to the Texans in Houston, a loss that should put out any of those postseason dreams in New England.
It doesn’t make sense that the team can beat the Baltimore Ravens last weekend and then fall to the lowly Texans this weekend. But this Patriots team appears to be allergic to beating bad teams, with this loss joining Week 5’s defeat to the Denver Broncos and Week 6’s loss to an injury depleted 49ers. At least the Patriots can still beat terrible teams, like the Jets.
But losing to bad teams is going to end playoff hopes in a hurry, and New England’s playoff hopes are circling the drains right now. If Sunday solidified anything, it’s that the Patriots are not a good football team this year. Once they get down in a game, that is pretty much it. They proved once again that they can not come back when an opponent takes a lead.
Here are the Ups and Downs from Sunday’s loss in Houston:
The Patriots’ season essentially came down to their final possession against the Texans. They had a last chance to tie the game, with the ball on their own 25 down with 4:11 left in the game, but they came up well short.
New England got to the Houston 24-yard line thanks to some big plays by James White, Damiere Byrd and Newton, but that was as close as they would get. Cam’s throw was deflected by JJ Watt on third down (the fourth pass that Watt batted away at the line), and Newton had to throw it to n one on 4th-and-4 when the Texans sent the kitchen sink his way.
The offense got the ball back once more, but all that gave the Patriots were a few more desperation yards in the box score. When the offense had to go on a touchdown drive to tie the game and keep the season alive, they failed.
The Game Plan
The offensive game plan was extremely questionable after New England’s first possession ended with a touchdown. Damien Harris ran wild on that drive, but had just three carries on New England’s other three possessions in the first half.
The Pats focused on their air attack instead, and Cam Newton struggled to go 4-for-10 for 27 yards (after a 3-for-3, 58-yard start).
And when Cam was making things go with deep throws in the second half, the Patriots called for run plays on 2nd-and-19 and 3rd-and-17. It was frustrating, and the Patriots ended up settling for a field goal after a 16-play drive into the Houston red zone. A 16-play drive that ends with a field goal pretty much sums up the season for the New England offense.
It wasn’t a great day for visors, even if the roof was open in Houston.
When the Texans scored touchdowns in the first half, the Patriots did not answer. They didn’t do anything.
After Houston’s first touchdown drive, the Patriots punted it back to them after just five plays. Damien Harris picked up a first down with 11 rushing yards on the first two plays of the drive, but then Josh McDaniels called for three straight passes. The first two fell incomplete. and the third lost two yards.
After Houston’s second touchdown, the Patriots went three and out. They had the ball for just 1:34 on the drive.
After opening the game with a touchdown drive, the Pats offense scored just three points the rest of the first half, picking up just 67 yards on 18 plays.
Rex Burkhead has been a big part of the offense this season, one of the few bright spots on that unit. We may not see him again for a while.
Burkhead was hurt on New England’s first possession of the second half, when he was taken down behind the line of scrimmage on a 3rd-and-1 sweep. He took Bradley Roby’s helmet to his knee on the play, and it did not look good. It was “we’re not going to show you another replay” bad.
Scary moment here.
Burkhead gets up but can barely put any pressure on his right leg pic.twitter.com/U9UJISzHmA
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) November 22, 2020
Sony Michel and JJ Taylor did not dress, leaving the Pats with just Harris and James White at running back the rest of the game.
Rough Day For Cornerbacks
Jason McCourty was picked on by Watson throughout the game. He gave up a big 21-yard reception to Brandin Cooks to get Houston to the New England 4-yard line, setting up a DeShaun Watson rushing touchdown to put the Texans on top 14-10 late in the first half.
Earlier in the half, he surrendered a 22-yard connection by Watson to Jordan Akins that set up Watson’s touchdown pass to Randall Cobb.
Jonathan Jones got turned around in the end zone by Keke Coutee, who hauled in just his second career touchdown just ahead of halftime to give Houston a 21-10 lead.
The Patriots surrendered 241 passing yards in the first half, and 344 yards overall. Houston had five receiving plays of 20-plus yards in the first half and seven for the game.
Watson isn’t the easiest human to bring down, but the Patriots defense could have showed a little more push-back when the QB powered through both Ja’Whaun Bentley and Devin McCourty on his rushing score in the first half.
In the second half, Duke Johnson brought Jonathan Jones on a piggyback ride as he turned a screen pass into a nine-yard pickup.
The New England pass-rush was nearly non-existent throughout this one, as Watson was able to do pretty much anything he wanted in or out of the pocket. The Patriots did not sack Watson on Sunday, and only got two QB hits throughout the afternoon.
Cam’s Bomb To Byrd
When the Patriots needed to score, Newton dialed up a long pass. Wait, what?
Newton lofted up a 42-yard bomb to Byrd, who made a great play to turn himself around in time for Newton’s pass to drop into his arms. Phillip Gaines didn’t make much of an effort to stop it, but it was nice to see the New England offense look like a real, actual offense.
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2020
It was Byrd’s first touchdown of the season, and Cam’s first touchdown pass to a wide receiver this season. The strike cut Houston’s lead to 21-17.
Byrd had himself a day, setting a new career-high with 132 yards on six receptions. Newton finished the day with 365 yards through the air.
It started off so well too. New England’s first offensive drive was beautiful.
The Patriots marched 84 yards in 10 plays, with most of the damage coming off a screen to James White that went for 34 yards. Damien Harris ran for 25 yards on his five carries, finishing things off with a 9-yard touchdown scamper to give New England and early 7-0 lead.
Newton was 3-for-4 for 58 yards on the drive, which ate 5:32 off the clock.
We haven’t seen much of the rookie linebacker, but he seems to make a big play every week he’s on the field. This weekend, it was an open-field stop on Watson on third down that forced a Houston three-and-out to start the second half. It was a huge stop when the Patriots defense needed it most.
He’s on a real heater, connecting on each of his last 17 field goal attempts. He had two more today — from 45 and 36 yards.