The New England Patriots may not have played their best football in Week 5, but they were able to overcome their own sloppiness to celebrate their second win of the season. Falling behind 22-9 in the third quarter, the team played some strong complementary football to close out the game — eventually scoring 16 unanswered points to beat the Houston Texans on the road.
Patriots (2-3) 25 : 22 Texans (1-4)
Winning the coin toss, the Patriots decided to defer and start the game on defense. The unit did start slowly, though, and allowed the Texans to methodically drive down the field behind a healthy mix of running and passing. Along the way, Houston’s offense converted a 4th-and-2 as well as three third downs — including a 3rd-and-1 that turned into an 11-yard touchdown pass from Davis Mills to Antony Auclair.
The ensuing extra point sailed wide to the right, but New England still found itself in a hole after the game’s opening series. [Patriots 0 : 6 Texans]
Mac Jones and the Patriots offense started their first drive in prime field position: Texans kicker Kaʻimi Fairbairn made another mistake, sending the kickoff out of bounds to give New England the ball at their own 40-yard line. The team did take advantage, thanks in part due to two third down conversions of its own: catches by Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor allowed the Patriots to march into the Houston red zone before the end of the quarter.
It did not take the Patriots long to find the end zone after the start of quarter number two. Facing a third down form the 1-yard line, Damien Harris crossed the plane from a wildcat formation:
The Patriots did not take the lead, however, as kicker Nick Folk missed the extra point to the left. As a consequence, the game was tied at six points each. [Patriots 6 : 6 Texans]
Any momentum New England might have built with this 10-play, 60-yard scoring drive was quickly gone, though. Just three plays into the next series, Houston regained the lead: facing a 3rd-and-2, J.C. Jackson lost a jump ball with Devin McCourty taking a bad angle that allowed practice squad call-up Chris Moore to take the football 67 yards for the touchdown.
Once again, though, the Texans were unable to split the uprights on the ensuing extra point attempt. [Patriots 6 : 12 Texans]
After spending only a few minutes on the sidelines, the Patriots offense was back on the field — once again looking good while driving down the field. Mac Jones had big completions to Jakobi Meyers and Jonnu Smith, which gave the team another opportunity to take the lead. It appeared that it did just that on what was initially ruled a 5-yard touchdown run by Damien Harris. Upon review, however, the play was overturned.
Harris had lost possession of the ball before he crossed the plane — his second red zone fumble of the season — with Houston recovering. Instead of the Patriots at least tying the game at 12, the Texans therefore took over at their own 20-yard line.
New England’s mistakes did not end there. Houston’s ensuing possession saw them convert two fourth downs, with the second turning into a 40-yard pass play to set up a goal-to-go sequence. At this point, however, the Patriots defense finally delivered a stop: two sacks by Matthew Judon kept the Texans out of the end zone; they did add to their lead with a 33-yard field goal, however. [Patriots 6 : 15 Texans]
With under two minutes left in the first half, New England needed to get something going on offense. While the unit did have some bad plays — a near-interception by Mac Jones and a big drop by Jakobi Meyers — it did manage to put some points on the scoreboard: with two seconds left, Nick Folk hit a 52-yard field goal to bring his team within one score again. [Patriots 9 : 15 Texans]
After a sloppy first half, New England opened the second in possession of the football. However, the mistakes continued right away. Following a Rhamondre Stevenson run for no gain, Mac Jones was intercepted at the Patriots’ 44-yard line on a throw intended for Nelson Agholor.
Just two plays after the interception, the team’s defense gave up another touchdown: Davis Mills hit Chris Conley off a flea-flicker for a 37-yard score. [Patriots 9 : 22 Texans]
In dire need of some sort of momentum shift, the Patriots offense answered... by going three-and-out. New England’s defense, meanwhile, also forced a punt after only three plays. That punt turned into a disaster for the Texans — it hit one of their protectors and traveled a net total of zero yards — but the visitors were unable to fully capitalize.
The Patriots gained a combined three yards on their ensuing three plays, having to settle for three points despite starting in promising field position. Still, Nick Folk was able to bring the deficit down to 10 after hitting another field goal from 52 yards out. [Patriots 12 : 22 Texans]
It did not take New England long to get the ball back after the field goal. The defense forced a second straight three-and-out, with practice squad elevatee Myles Bryant making a crucial tackle for a loss of 5 yards on 3rd-and-14.
The Patriots offense also had some positive moments on its next series. With big plays to Hunter Henry and Nelson Agholor — gaining 21 and 20 yards, respectively — Mac Jones quickly drove his unit into the Houston red zone. Once there, however, it struggled again and eventually had to settle for a field goal. Nick Folk’s 32-yarder did put the Patriots within one touchdown, though. [Patriots 15 : 22 Texans]
Before the end of the third quarter, New England’s defense forced the Texans into a 3rd-and-3. Instead of getting off the field, however, the group gave up a 27-yard pass play to end the period.
Fortunately for the Patriots, the Texans’ big conversion did not lead to any more points being put on the board. The defense eventually forced a stop, and Kaʻimi Fairbairn missed a 56-yard field goal to keep New England within striking distance. Additionally, Mac Jones and company would start their next drive in solid field position.
This time, the Patriots finally took advantage. With Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson leading the charge, the team drove into the red area for a fourth time. Facing a 3rd-and-6 from 13 yards out, Josh McDaniels put the ball into his rookie quarterback’s hands. It paid off: Jones found Hunter Henry near the left-hand corner of the end zone to bring his team within an extra point.
Nick Folk made the point-after kick to tie the game at 22 with nine-and-a-half minutes left in the ballgame. [Patriots 22 : 22 Texans]
The Patriots continued to keep the pressure on their opponent, forcing another three-and-out after the touchdown. The pivotal play of the series came courtesy of recently re-signed linebacker Jamie Collins, who sacked Davis Mills for a loss of 8 yards on first down.
With 7:15 left in the game, New England embarked on a potential game-winning drive — one that started with a 24-yard pass to Jakobi Meyers and also saw some tough running by Brandon Bolden and Rhamondre Stevenson. Eventually, the Patriots found themselves deep in the Houston red zone at the two-minute warning and with the Texans having used all of their timeouts.
While New England did not reach the end zone, the team did manage to score three points via a Nick Folk 21-yard field goal — one that left only 15 seconds left on the clock. [Patriots 25 : 22 Texans]
The Texans had two more plays to make a miracle happen, but it did not. The game ended when Matthew Judon, one of the Patriots’ defensive standouts, recovered a fumbled lateral as time expired.
With the win, New England improves to 2-3.