The New England Patriots shut out the Houston Texans 27-0. Here’s what we learned.
Jacoby Brissett is no Jimmy Garoppolo, and he didn’t have to be
Brissett doesn’t have the same touch on the football. He doesn’t have the same ability to read a defense. He’s far more mobile. But this all worked just fine as a one-week band-aid. Brissett showed a lot of potential for the future, but an 11/19 passing performance for 103 yards and no touchdowns, and 48 rushing yards and a touchdown, is a far cry from Garoppolo’s production. Jimmy’s job as back-up is still safe.
LeGarrette Blount has been a superstar over the first three weeks
Blount picked up 105 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries (4.4 yards per carry) as he absolutely shouldered the offensive load so Brissett didn’t face as much pressure. Blount has done this all three weeks and he deserves every ounce of praise.
Rob Gronkowski was a mere observer of the game
Gronkowski dressed up, but he only ran one route in the first half as he served primarily as a blocker. He didn’t really suit up in the second half. Martellus Bennett was the lead tight end and actually picked up 6 yards on a rushing play.
The offensive line deserves a batch of cookies from Brissett
Brissett was known for baking goodies for his offensive linemen in college and the starting five of Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Marcus Cannon (heck, throw Cameron Fleming in there, too) all deserve a batch. The Texans recorded just one quarterback hit (a sack) on Brissett all night and they paved the way for the running game, even though the Texans knew the runs were coming. This was a coming out party for the group.
Jamie Collins and Jabaal Sheard lived up to their expectations
Collins racked up 14 tackles and an interception, while Sheard collected a pair of sacks. Collins was the best player on the field all night and has elevated his game this year; it should look even better if and when Dont’a Hightower returns next week. Sheard finally seems to have put his preseason injury behind him.
The secondary locked down the Texans passing attack
Texans QB Brock Osweiler was 24/41 (58.5%) for 196 yards and an interception, for a 60.6 passer rating. WR DeAndre Hopkins picked up 56 yards on 4 catches, with just 1 catch for 16 yards in the second half. TE Ryan Griffin collected 52 yards on 8 catches, most of it in garbage time, sitting in between linebackers in zone. WR Will Fuller picked up 31 yards on 3 catches after picking up 100+ in each of the first two weeks of the season. It was a great day.
Ryan Allen was the team MVP
The best day, however, goes to punter Ryan Allen who arguably won the game for the Patriots by tilting the field position. His seven punts pinned the Texans on their own 11-, 10-, 10-, 20-, 14-, 5-, and 4-yard lines. For comparison, the Patriots started five drives on the Texans half of the field. Allen was a huge reason for that.