With the sun shining through an open roof at NRG Stadium, the Houston Texans won, 27-20, over the New England Patriots on Sunday.
The Texans defense came up with a big stop on fourth down late in the fourth quarter to seal the game and held the Patriots to just 86 rushing yards on the day. J.J. Watt recorded two tackles, a tackle for loss and he batted down four passes.
"I tell you guys all the time, the consistency, the consistency of technique of guys doing their job, doing their job first and then trying to help out," interim head coach Romeo Crennel said. "A lot of times it comes to toughness and leverage playing against double teams, not guessing and so we did that today against a good running team, a team who is on top of the league as far as the run goes. Then we were able to slow that down then they started to throw the ball and, you know, they hadn't been throwing it as well overall because they'd been running the ball. So now you kind of put them out of their element a little bit, particularly when you got J.J. coming off the edge and being disruptive they way he was at getting the quarterback off the spot. And so that helped us a lot today."
Zach Cunningham had a team-high nine tackles (seven solo) and one quarterback hit. Rookie Jonathan Greenard and veteran safety Justin Reid each recorded their first career NFL sack in the fourth quarter.
"I mean, obviously, we all know that we've had our struggles against the run this year so far and I believe the Patriots came into this game either second or third in overall rushing offense," Watt said. "So for us to hold them to eighty-six yards is a huge accomplishment for us. I think our defense deserves a lot of credit for the way everybody played today. Everybody doing their assignment, making the tackles was a great all around game by the guys. I'm very proud of the way they did that."
Deshaun Watson completed 28-of-37 for 344 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 121.9 passer rating in the win. He also added six carries for 36 yards and a rushing touchdown. The Texans relied heavily on their passing attack and had three receivers finish with over 80 yards, including Brandin Cooks (85), Jordan Akins (83) and Will Fuller (80). Keke Coutee scored his first touchdown since his rookie campaign in 2018.
"He's a really good player and he helps to make our offense go," Crennel said. "So if sometimes when you've got a guy like that who can make the plays that he can make, sometimes you don't have to have a ground game. And when we're struggling a little bit with the running game in this game, we kind of relied on Deshaun in the passing game."
With Laremy Tunsil out due to an illness, Roderick Johnson started at left tackle for the Texans. Both Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills left the game with injuries and did not return.
The Texans and Patriots each had a touchdown drive in the first quarter. After Damien Harris scored on a nine-yard touchdown run, Watson led the Texans on a six-play, 73-yard drive. Cooks caught a 44-yard pass while Akins added a 22-yard catch-and-run on third down to extend the drive. On the next play, Cobb scored on a three-yard touchdown catch.
In the second quarter, Houston's defense held the Patriots to just a field goal, and then the offense scored 14 unanswered points. The Texans took their first lead of the game after a touchdown run by Watson. Both Akins and Cooks came up with big gains of 25 and 21 yards, respectively, to get Houston into a first-and-goal situation. Watson's four-yard run gave Houston a 14-10 lead with 3:54 left in the second quarter.
"On that run I was just trying to make something happen," Watson said. "I kind of just reacted and went forward to see where it took me and I just kind of took both of those guys to the end zone. But just gave the offense energy and the whole team energy and they saw that and continued it to the rest of the game."
Watson orchestrated a nine-play, 80-yard drive on the next series. After Pharaoh Brown caught a pass and powered through traffic to get to mid-field, Watson threw a pass on every remaining play of the drive before connecting with Coutee on a six-yard score.
The Texans headed into halftime with a 21-10 lead over the Patriots.
Houston's defense forced a three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half, but the Patriots found the endzone on their next possession. Newton threw a 42-yard pass to Damiere Byrd as the Patriots closed in on the Texans, down 21-17 in the third quarter.
Ka'imi Fairbairn's 46-yard field goal, his second of the game, gave Houston a 27-20 lead with 4:11 left in the fourth quarter.
With three minutes remaining, Newton led the Patriots offense down the field but was unable to convert a 4th-and-4.
"Come down, same double-edged pressure," Justin Reid said. "Beware of the evil twins, man. They were really focusing on blocking me or Lonnie (Johnson) and one of us was coming free every time. Lonnie initially came free, was able to get him off the mark, and then I had got off my block off a chip release, and then we both came together and made the tackle on him. So it's definitely one of our favorite pressures from the safety position."
The Patriots had one last possession, but time expired as Newton threw a 50-yard completion to tight end Ryan Izzo.
The Texans improve to 3-7 on the season and will next play the Detroit Lions in Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game. Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.
Check out some photos from the Houston Texans, New England Patriots Week 11 matchup.