Up until that point, New England had played some sloppy football on both sides of the ball. The offense had two costly turnovers, while the defense was unable to stop its opponent from marching down the field again and again. Falling to 1-4 on the season seemed like a realistic possibility with 28 minutes left in the game.
However, 28 minutes is more than enough time to turn things around (especially at Houston’s NRG Stadium).
The Patriots did just that. They scored on each of their final four possessions to beat the Texans with a score of 25-22. It certainly was not their best performance, but the effort was what it needed to be for New England to emerge victoriously.
“We just out-competed. Don’t know if we out-played the other team, but we definitely out-competed, and that’s all that we can ask ourselves to do,” quarterback Mac Jones said after the game.
The first-round rookie led the charge for the Patriots on Sunday. While his final stat-line was nothing to write home about — he completed 23 of 30 pass attempts for 231 yards with a touchdown and interception each — Jones had a strong overall game when it mattered the most.
He went 7-for-9 on third downs, including a 13-yard scoring pass to Hunter Henry. He also made some good throws on the seven-minute drive in the fourth quarter that set up the eventual game-winning Nick Folk field goal from 21 yards out.
Despite all that, Jones knows that there is plenty of room for improvement still.
“I think there’s plays we left out there on the field, but at the same time we needed to just put together scoring drives — kicks or touchdowns,” he said. “I think if you take away our turnovers — one of them was obviously my fault, and then Damien [Harris]’s was just a bang-bang play. I think we put a lot of emphasis on that. We didn’t do a good job with that, but we still fought through that and just tried to put points on the board.”
For the youngster, the game was another learning experience. He said so himself afterwards, pointing out that he would have his fair share of opportunities to find and correct mistakes.
“There’s a lot of stuff that we’re going to watch on film that we wish we had back,” he said. “But sometimes you just have to find a way to win and it just feels better to not play as well and win but learn at the same time than play okay and then end up losing. So, the win feels good.”