Making his first NFL start, Jacoby Brissett went 11 for 19 for 103 yards as a passer. That's a normally underwhelming statline for most QBs, but perhaps the biggest takeaway was zero turnovers and very few mistakes on the field when called upon to throw the ball. Not only did Brissett did a good job of managing the game, the Patriots coaching staff tailored the offense to his strengths and Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels called a great game. While the coaches can design a great game plan, the credit goes to the players to executing that game plan to perfection. There really wasn't a Patriots player that had a bad game overall.
When you win by 27 and your QB only throws for 100 yards, the biggest takeaway was the success of the running game. The Patriots offense got its first big play from the rookie QB when Brissett ran a QB sweep for the game's first touchdown. While the offense struggled to move the ball in the first half, they were able to eventually tire out the Texans stout defensive front. Brissett, Julian Edelman, and Martellus Bennett all carried the ball in this game in the first half and had the Texans chasing East to West.
In the 2nd half, the Patriots went to a more traditional approach towards running the ball. After a first half where Blount was unable to get room to run, Blount ran wild in the 2nd half. Blount had 17 carries in the 2nd half, picking up 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The second touchdown went for 41 yards as Blount ran through an exhausted Texans defense. The Patriots needed a big game from Blount and he delivered with 105 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries.
The defense pitched a shutout of a Texans offense that has weapons but hasn't clicked together. They held Lamar Miller to 80 yards on 21 carries and made the Texans receivers a non-factor as they forced Brock Osweiler to check the ball down all night long. Logan Ryan had a good night against DeAndre Hopkins, forcing the superstar WR to earn every one of his catches. Ryan was in tight coverage, with Hopkins only catches are the kind you tip the cap.
Jamie Collins had a monster game on defense. Not only was he responsible for calling the defense, he was all over the field. Collins was destroying RBs behind the line of scrimmage, covering them out in the flat, and on one play dropped back 20 yards to take away the deep in-cut for an interception. While the Patriots didn't have Dont'a Hightower on the field, the Patriots defense didn't skip a beat with solid outings from Shea McClellin and Jonathan Freeny alongside him.
The Patriots pass rush showed up against the Texans. Jabaal Sheard picked up a pair of sacks, Trey Flowers harassed Osweiler for most of the 2nd half, and Chris Long was productive in pressuring the QB. The Texans offense is predicated on taking downfield shots and the Patriots funneled safeties Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon to help over the top against Hopkins and Will Fuller. With the Patriots front 7 being able to stop the run and also being able to keep their two deep safeties deep, the Texans struggled to move the ball. They didn't get into plus territory until 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. It was a case of where the coaching staff crafted a good game plan and the players doing an excellent job of executing it.
Special Teams won the game for the Patriots. The Patriots kickoff unit forced two turnovers, giving the offense a pair of short fields that resulted in two of the Patriots three touchdowns. Ryan Allen had his best game as the Patriots punter with 4 punts inside the Texans 15 yard line. The defense doesn't pitch a shutout if Allen doesn't force the Texans to drive 85+ yards after stopping the Patriots offense. With Jonathan Jones, who ran 4.33 at the combine in February, and Matthew Slater, who's been to five consecutive Pro Bowls, as the two gunners, there might not be a single punt the Patriots can't cover.
On kickoffs, the Patriots have adjusted to the new touchback rule. Instead of blasting the ball through the end zone like last season, the Patriots have more often opted to corner kick it near the goal line to force a return. The Patriots haved dabbled with that idea in preseasons past, but with a 5-yard change in field position, the Patriots will do whatever it takes to force long fields for the opposing offense. The Texans didn't have a kickoff return move past the 25 yard line and two of them were fumbled to the Patriots.