In this gut-punch loss to the Patriots, the Texans found life in their offense. The fact that they put up 33 points and had the lead late was more than most experts thought they could produce in New England.
The biggest problem was Tom Brady.
On a day when the Texans got to him with five sacks, including a Whitney Mercilus strip that Jadeveon Clowney plucked out of the air and ran in for a score, the Patriots still managed five touchdown passes. Houston held New England's offense under 400 yards but Brady made enough drive extending plays to keep things moving, going 6-13 on third down.
Deshaun Watson's second start yielded two touchdown passes and numerous big plays with his feet. He constantly escaped would-be sacks and made big play after big play. But there wasn't enough time on the clock at the end to work more magic as Brady hit Brandin Cooks for the winning touchdown with 23 seconds left.
The week two win over the Bengals was nice but this game was a coming out party for Watson as he threw for over 300 yards. He threw one pick on an off balance pass in the second quarter. The second interception was off a deflection on the Hail Mary at the end of the game. His poise, elusiveness and execution proves that the Texans appear to be in great shape at the most important position on the team.
This one hurt a lot.
What could have been one of the greatest franchise wins ever quickly turned into one of the most heartbreaking losses ever. And you hope there will be no lingering effects.
The defense played a physical game and needs to recover quickly. Houston almost pulled off a stunning upset playing newly signed Johnthan Banks for a ton of snaps. The pass rush almost did the job as there's no question Brady will feel fortunate to come away victorious. J.J. Watt, who began the game with back to back tackles for loss, played well. It felt like Houston made a lot of key stops. But they didn't get one when they needed it most.
As well as the offense played, Bill O'Brien talked about settling for field goals too often. Ka'imi Fairbairn went 4-for-4. Late in the game, O'Brien ordered a field goal kick instead of having his team go for it on fourth and one. O'Brien wanted to force Brady to need a TD to win. Had he gone for it and came up short he would have been second guessed either way.
It was a thriller, for sure. But as painful a loss as you can imagine, considering the opponent.
Now, back to work, back to the division. Tennessee invades NRG stadium next for the first of three consecutive home games. It's crucial that the Texans don't fall to 0-2 in the AFC South as they are in a very different situation that the last two years. The AFC South is better and will produce some entertaining football this year.
But nothing is more entertaining than winning and Houston needs a way to get back on track on Sunday.
The Texans faced the Patriots in Week 3 at Gillette Stadium.