The Houston Texans scored three touchdowns to earn a 20-9 win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium Thursday night. DeMeco Ryans' team grew into the game and overwhelmed the home side after going down a field goal early.
Quarterback C.J. Stroud made his NFL debut on the opening drive, finding Nico Collins for an eight-yard gain on the first play of the drive. However, Stroud's first possession ended in a turnover several plays later when his pass, intended for WR Tank Dell, was intercepted by DB Jalen Mills.
Houston's defense held QB Bailey Zappe and the NE offense to -1 yards of offense following the interception. LB Denzel Perryman's sack on third down forced the Patriots to settle for a 44-yard field goal. New England took a 3-0 lead with 9:43 left in the first quarter.
Stroud exited the game as planned after two series, completing 2-of-4 passes for 13 yards and one interception while rushing for six yards on two carries. QB Davis Mills entered the game with 1:52 left in the first quarter.
Houston's defensive starters began the second quarter on the sidelines. Rookie LB Henry To'oTo'o came up with a big stop on third down forcing the Patriots to punt on their first possession of the quarter.
Mills and the offense converted two first downs, but RB Dare Ogunbowale's fumble at the NE 46-yard line, resulted in the Texans' second turnover of the day.
The Texans defense forced three consecutive punts without allowing a first down.
After Tank Dell's 13-yard punt return with 3:05 left in the second quarter, Mills went 5-for-5 on the drive. Dell caught passes for 24, 12 and eight yards before scoring on a six-yard touchdown catch. The Texans took a 7-3 lead at halftime after the rookie wide receiver's first NFL score.
Veteran QB Case Keenum started the second half for Houston and led the offense on an eight-play, 55-yard scoring drive that ended in a one-yard touchdown run by TE Dalton Keene against his former team. K Jake Bates missed the extra-point attempt as Houston took a 13-3 lead with 7:20 left in the third quarter.
The Texans defense backed up QB Trace McSorley and the Patriots offense to the NE one-yard line to finish the quarter after a sack and tackle for loss on the drive.
Keenum began the final quarter of the game much like the third quarter, with another score. On fourth-and-goal, Keenum threw his second touchdown of the game, connecting with WR Alex Bachman on a five-yard pass to cap off a 10-play, 40-yard scoring drive. The Texans took a 20-3 lead with 9:52 left in the game.
The Patriots scored their first touchdown of the night with just 1:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. Rookie QB Malik Cunningham scrambled into the endzone on a nine-yard run. After an unsuccessful two-point conversion, the Patriots trailed 20-9.
The Texans ended the game in victory formation. Houston will host the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 19 in their second preseason matchup.