O’Brien on receiving game ball: “The players deserve it”

Sunday was a day of firsts for Bill O'Brien. Last night's 28-22 win over the Patriots was his first victory over New England in six tries as head coach. But that wasn't the only 'first': he received a game ball in the locker room afterwards.

During the team’s postgame locker room celebration, Deshaun Watson handed the game ball, usually reserved for a player who had an outstanding performance, to O’Brien.

“It was big for both of us,” Watson said. “We work together all the time. We had two tries since I've been here where we came up short. Just being the quarterback of the team, it really came from everyone, but for me to present that, I bet it mean a lot to him and to us as an organization. It was awesome.”

The Texans had only beaten the Super Bowl champion Patriots once before, in Week 17 of the 2009 season. In Sunday night's triumph, Houston also became the first team to lead by double digits against the Patriots at halftime since Week 10 of the 2018 season. They led 14-3 after two quarters.

“I appreciate getting the game ball but I really believe the players deserve the game balls, the guys that were out there making the plays,” O’Brien said Monday. “I thought the players played tough. It wasn’t always perfect. We played a really great football team and they were resilient. They stuck with it and we were able to win the game. I think the players deserve the credit.”

O’Brien, who spent five seasons on the Patriots coaching staff under Bill Belichick (2007-11), was 0-5 against his former team before Sunday’s game.

In his third career game against the Patriots, Watson completed 18-of-25 passes for 234 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 140.7 passer rating on Sunday night. He also recorded his first career receiving touchdown on a trick play from DeAndre Hopkins. Houston’s four passing touchdowns marked the most by an opponent against New England this season. The Patriots had only allowed four passing touchdowns all season entering Week 13. The Texans defense allowed the fewest net passing yards to New England in the first half of a game this season (78), sacked Tom Brady three times and recorded an interception.

The Texans improved to 8-4 on the season and will next face the Denver Broncos on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

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