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The Top 20 Patriots Moments of 2016: Number 6

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Our offseason countdown continues with the Number 6 Most Memorable Moment of the 2016 season.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of reasons to love the month of July. Summer is in full swing. The best holiday weekend of the year. Beautiful weather. And most importantly, it's the last month of the year where there are no football games to watch. So get outside while you can, because once August comes around, it's time for the preseason, and we all know that means that TV once again becomes our master and undying god.

That also means I better get a move on counting down the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2016. We're almost into the Top 5, and the season is rapidly approaching.

But first, the list so far:

20. The New England Patriots trade Jamie Collins to Cleveland for a bag of peanuts.
19. LeGarrette Blount runs through the entire Seahawks line on his way to the end zone.
18.Chris Long strip sack helps to ice the game against the New York Jets.
17. The Patriots defense shuts down Trevor Siemian and the Denver Broncos on the road.

16. LeGarrette Blount owns Byron Maxwell with an epic hurdle.
15. A different kind of Malcolm Go highlights a convincing road win against the San Francisco 49ers.
14. Chris Hogan finds some nice redemption against his old team in the form of a beautiful 53 yard TD.
13. Shea McClellin leaps the line to block a FG against the Baltimore Ravens.
12. LeGarrette Blount sets a franchise record with his 15th rushing TD of the year against the Denver Broncos.
11. Tom Brady hits Chris Hogan for a 79 yard TD to ice the game against the Baltimore Ravens.
10. Rob Gronkowski sets a Patriots All-Time receiving TD record by notching his 69th against the Buffalo Bills.
9. A kickoff return for a TD highlights a historic night for Dion Lewis in the AFC Divisional Round against the Houston Texans.
8. Dont'a Hightower blows up Andy Dalton for a safety to give the Patriots some much-needed momentum against the Cincinnati Bengals.
7. Michael Floyd decapitates Tony Lippett to spring Julian Edelman for a 77 yard touchdown.

Honestly, it pains me to have left this particular moment out of the Top 5, as it's definitely one of my favorite plays of the entire year, but there are some absolute whoppers coming down the pipeline, so I guess the Number One Not Top 5 Moment of 2016 will have to do for this one.

6. A Jacoby Brissett naked bootleg highlights a Thursday night shutout of the Houston Texans.

With Tom Brady sitting out the first four games of the 2016 season, there was a lot of speculation regarding how the Patriots would fare without him. Some folks saw New England going 2-2, others 1-3, and a few even thought that they'd get completely stonewalled without their fearless leader and leave the month of September winless. However, a strong showing from Jimmy Garoppolo and a total team effort saw the Patriots jump out to a 2-0 record on the year as the greatness of Bill Belichick was once more on full display.

However, Week 3 saw the Patriots hosting the Houston Texans, also 2-0, on a very short week, and to make things worse, they would be forced to start rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had been forced into action against the Miami Dolphins the week before after a hard hit left Garoppolo with a collarbone injury, and while he was able to engineer a win, it was a more a matter of game management and not making foolish plays as the Patriots had been able to build up enough of an early lead to whether a fierce Miami comeback. He would now be starting his first game ever as a pro, with almost no time to prepare, against a Houston defense that was touted as one of the league's best. Houston had held a potent KC offense to 12 points the week before, and seeing as how Brissett struggled to move the ball against Miami, how this game would go was absolutely anybody's guess. Thus far, the Patriots had been staving off the haters foaming at the mouth as they waited to see this team collapse, but to have a rookie QB take on a top-tier defense on a short week seemed like an obstacle that even Bill Belichick couldn't overcome.

Of course, everyone thinking that the Patriots wouldn't be able to beat the Texans were forgetting one of Belichick's favorite terms: situational football.

In what would become the textbook definition of a team win, the Patriots dominated in all three phases of the game to completely blank the Texans. The defense held Brock Osweiler to under 200 yards passing with no scores, a pick, and a QBR of 29.1 Running backs Lamar Miller, Alfred Blue, and Jonathan Grimes ran for under 100 yards combined. DeAndre Hopkins was Houston's leading receiver on the day with four catches for 56 yards. On special teams, the Patriots forced two fumbles on kickoffs, both of which resulted in points. The punting unit pinned Houston back deep and forced the offense to drive a long field all night - something they were unable to do. Ghost was a perfect 2 for 2 on the night for FGs. On offense, Brissett was efficient, managing the game well and making smart decisions. He relied heavily on his running game, and LeGarrette Blount delivered; Blount carried the ball 24 times for 108 yards and two scores. Six different Patriots registered at least one reception. Brissett also made plays with his legs, rushing eight times for 48 yards.

And it was a Brissett rushing play that represented the highlight of the night.

New England had just put the first points on the board after a 10 play, 74 yard drive ended with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal, and had forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to get the ball back at the Houston 22. After a false start penalty, it was 1st and 15 on the 27. New England had utilized a lot of short passes and power runs to the left on the previous drive, and when they came out of the huddle on the ensuing play, they looked to be continuing that strategy with an overloaded left flank, LeGarrette Blount offset in the backfield, and Malcolm Mitchell alone on the right. Houston, looking to adjust, shifted its line over to the strong side and cheated the linebackers over, leaving the entire right side of the field more or less empty.

At the snap, the entire offensive line crashed hard to the left, with the exception of guard Shaq Mason, who pulled right to seal off the edge. Blount ran a horizontal off-tackle feint that suggested a strong sweep run was coming. J.J. Watt, who had beaten his man, mad a beeline for Blount in hopes of blowing him up in the backfield for a huge loss - something that absolutely would have happened has Brissett not executed the fake to perfection and taken off on a naked bootleg to the right side of the field. The entire Texans defense bit on the deception, leaving Brissett with almost 20 yards of open space in front of him. He ran completely untouched to the six yard line before Andre Hall cut across the field to try and take him down. Executing a beautiful cutback, Brissett made Hall miss, followed an absolutely phenomenal block by fellow rookie Malcolm Mitchell, and dove into the end zone for his first career rushing TD.

Gillette Stadium exploded. The entire Patriots offense sprinted into the end zone to celebrate with their quarterback. Brissett was immediately surrounded by his teammates as the noise level grew. The Patriots were now up two scores, had momentum strongly on their side, and from that moment forward, you just knew that they were going to win the game. As Ghost hit the extra point, the camera cut to Brissett on the sideline, giving the ball from that play to his coach.

New England would go on to with the game 27-0, and it felt like Houston never even crossed midfield. They entered into the game with the third ranked defense in the NFL with a whopping nine sacks through two games, but they couldn't put pressure on a rookie making his first start. It was a drubbing through and through, capped off by this play, and it bumped New England up to 3-0 on the year.

Take away the starting QB, injure the backup QB...that's OK. The Patriots will rally behind their rookie, everyone will step up their game, and they'll still get the win. Patriots fans had already fallen head over heels in love with Tommy B, and Jimmy G had proven to be an adequate suitor as well, but Jacoby Brissett won our hearts with his performance in this game and earned his respect in all of our eyes. It was an immensely satisfying victory in that it felt that no matter what happens to this team, no matter what the league tries to do to them or what accidents befall them, they'll find a way to win. Jacoby Brissett's bootleg might be the feel-good moment of the regular season, and it was a blast recapping it at Number 6.

Check out the play here.

Full Pats/Texans highlights here.