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Texans defense swarms in 20-9 preseason victory at New England


DeMeco Ryans liked what he saw from the Texans defense on Thursday night in the 20-9 victory at New England.

Houston's defenders allowed just 164 total yards and limited the Patriots to 3-of-12 on third down. After allowing a field on a short field at the outset, the next four New England possessions ended in punts. Houston's defense forced two more punts and also came up with a fourth-down stop in the second half.

"Defense did a good job of swarming," the head coach said. "I liked the way we responded on sudden-change opportunities. We want to make sure we make their offense kick the ball there, and we did."

The Texans also registered three sacks on the night, and seven tackles for loss.

"Guys stood up, guys stood out and made plays, and it was fun to see our defense and the way they attacked there," Ryans said. "That's the type of style that we want to play."

Rookie linebacker Henry To'oTo'o saw his first NFL action on Thursday evening, and in just 16 defensive snaps he tallied a team-high five tackles and was routinely around the ball. The middle linebacker, who's responsible for getting the defense lined up correctly, credited Ryans, Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke and the rest of the staff for the ability to put consistent pressure on New England's quarterbacks.

"That's a testament to our coaches, honestly," To'oTo'o said. "They do a great job of telling our guys to penetrate and pressure and just go straight forward."

A handful of veterans didn't suit up for the Texans at Gillette Stadium, including defensive linemen Jerry Hughes and Sheldon Rankins, along with safety Jimmie Ward.

That gave other veterans, like defensive lineman Chase Winovich, a chance at some extended action in the second half. Winovich spent a couple seasons with the Patriots and was glad to get a sack and another tackle in his return.

"Any time I have the opportunity to take the field, I consider it a huge blessing," Winovich said. "My family and friends were in attendance, so getting that sack, considering the Patriots were my former team meant a lot to me. I just tried to have fun and certainly did."

The Texans will return to the practice field at the Houston Methodist Training Center on Saturday afternoon. On Wednesday and Thursday they'll host a joint practice with the Miami Dolphins, who they'll face at NRG Stadium a week from Saturday in the second preseason game of 2023.

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