There were plenty of debuts in the Texans 20-9 preseason victory at New England. DeMeco Ryans won his first outing as a head coach, several rookies stepped on an NFL field for the first time and the Texans got their first win of any kind in Foxborough.
The night began with a C.J. Stroud completion. But moments later he was picked. The defense immediately picked up the slack by sacking Patriots quarterback (and former Houston Christian player) Bailey Zappe on 3rd down and four. Denzel Perryman got the credit as Houston staged a flash mob in the New England backfield, setting the tone for a stellar evening.
A 3-0 deficit stayed that way for a while until late in the first half when the NFL world was introduced to Tank Dell. The rookie caught four Davis Mills passes on a 62-yard drive, including a juggling TD that put Houston up for good. He ended up with five catches, to lead everyone on the field.
Case Keenum entered the game in the second half and engineered two TD drives including one that ended with a pass on 4th and two from the five yard-line that found Alex Bachman for the 3rd score of the game.
The big story was the defense that held the Patriots to double digit total yards until a late Malik Cunningham-led drive that saw the mobile quarterback score on a nine-yard run.
Three sacks and numerous stops, including a turnover-on-downs to spark a TD drive, highlighted a terrific first night of the DeMeco D. The offense turned it over twice, but the defense made sure that New England didn't get a first down after each of them.
It was a good first step but we're just getting out of the gate. The Dolphins are in town for two days of joint practices next week and a game at NRG Stadium August 19 (3pm SportsRadio 610, The Bull 100.3 FM, ABC13).
The first team offense against New England was without key members including Laremy Tunsil, Dameon Pierce, Tytus Howard and Shaq Mason. It'll be important to get as many cylinders firing as possible to enable Stroud to get in rhythm.
Training Camp is still in progress and this game was an overall positive progress report. Miami will be a big test with speed receivers and a productive defense that's eager to help them get back to the post season.
For now, it's fun to have games back on the menu. Can't wait to consume another, next week.
Check out the action as the Houston Texans defeated the New England Patriots, 20-9, on August 10, 2023 at Gillette Stadium.