It was the manner that the Texans took the game to the reigning Superbowl winners that would have instilled the most belief in this team, after a 28-22 win. The confidence levels had somewhat dissipated with some recent falters and left the Texans looking over their shoulder. Deshaun Watson lead the offence took the game to New England in an explosion of creative offence which controlled a more one-sided game than the final score suggested. The Texans will need to rely on Patriots to lose two of their final four games, if they are to steal the number two seed. An unlikely prospect, as they would likely require a New England loss to the resurgent Bill’s, who would then likely lead the Texans, should that scenario unfolded.
None the less, this was one to savor for a fan base. The team are two wins into a triple-header of home games with the finale of that stretch this Sunday will see the visit of the Denver Broncos. The Texans looked to build an unassailable lead after a trick play which meant Deshaun was the first players since 1985 to throw for three and receive a touchdown in a single game. There will be some concern how the defence faded and let the Patriots close the gap in the 4th quarter which nearly ended in the Patriots recovering a on-side kick. If Branden Bolden had to been able to control the bouncing ball – it possibly could have been a raging injustice, but it was the Texans Night – after a long wait.
The much welcomed return of cornerback Brady Roby, injured since week 6, saw the former Buckeye contribute the first game changing play with an interception, setting up a short field. Roby could have easily had a second but was ruled to have committed defensive pass interference. The rise of the play from the Texans secondary, late game errors aside, has been a startling positive for the Houston defence. This improved coverage ability has benefited them up front and Jacob Martin was able to get to Brady twice. They were able to trouble the Patriots Offensive-Line all evening, delivering 12 quarterback hits. DJ Reader, must now to be in the conversation for the leagues best Nose Guard with 4 QB hits and 7 tackles. This perhaps wasn’t expected to be the Texans route to obtaining a foothold, via the defence, in the game but this limited Brandy to only completing 7 of 19, first-half passes. The Texans ability to frustrate Brady will give the unit much needed confidence in their final 4 game stretch, its now a case of repeating that level of play consistently.
The sequence that emphasised the Texans momentum was their third touchdowns, after the Texans stopped the Patriots on a 4th down attempt and turned the ball over on downs. A long ball to Will Fuller was adjudged to be an incomplete pass – which seemed like a call that could have easily stood. Facing into that adversity, on the very next play, Watson rolls left and finds Kenny Stills for a 35-yard touchdown. Stills seems to be a continued source of explosive plays for the offence and has been a immensely positive addition to the team. That moment felt like Sunday was going to be different and Watson and co. were on their game and were not to be denied.
The Houston offence was unable to run the ball, with only 52 rushing yards to be shown for their efforts. The passing game was productive, Deandre Hopkins had a sterling 5-catch performance considering he was double covered for the entirety of the game. Watson was reading the field and his line largely kept the pocket clean for him to step into throws and spread the ball around his targets, with seven separate players recording catches. The confidence that Watson played with and the trust built with a variation of weapons, has made the Houston offence more dynamic, the play-book appears to be more extensive and a number of wrinkles were added to their formations. New additions Duke Johnson and Darren Fells, both go their 4th & 7th touchdowns on the year and O’Brien has formulated the best offensive talent he’s had as his disposal. Sunday’s showing, just as week 1 vrs the Saints showed they can put up points with the best.
The Texans despite letting the game get close in the fourth, feasibly nullified an accurate reflection of their effort in the record books. Regardless, this provided a huge moment for O’Brien who finally has beaten his former employer. Coach Beilchick looked less than willing to shake hands at the customer meeting of the coaches as time elapsed. it was one that he will relish. Watson haded his metor and play caller a game ball in the locker room. The connection and the price at the result was clear to see.
Unfortunately, due to some earlier season lapses this result doesn’t count for more, in the run-in. Regardless this win had a huge emotional significance to the entire franchise and a proud moment, after a long wait.