By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
On a night where the Patriots defense gave up a handful of key plays, the offense simply couldn't keep up or come back within 60 minutes. It resulted in the Pats' second defeat of the season.
For one game, anyway, Tom Brady and the Pats couldn't move or protect the ball consistently while Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense made the handful of big plays they needed in a 28-22 win on Sunday Night Football. But the game continued troubling trends for the Patriots offense, which has no margin for error right now.
Unfortunately, Brady made the biggest error of the game, the one that put the Texans in control. Looking for rookie receiver N'Keal Harry, Brady fired it toward the tightly covered Harry as cornerback Bradley Roby jumped the route and picked Brady off, setting the Texans up at the Patriots' 21-yard line. Three plays later, Watson rolled right and hit an open Duke Johnson, who breezed into the end zone to give the Texans a 7-3 lead.
The Patriots couldn't significantly threaten Houston from there. Watson followed up the first touchdown drive with 88 more yards and another score, this time hitting tight end Darren Fells for a 13-yard TD to put the Texans up 14-3. They took that lead into the third quarter, when Watson found Kenny Stills for a 35-yard touchdown that made it 21-3.
Brady wasn't going to let the game slip away at that point. He led a 12-play, 75-yard drive at the end of the third quarter capped with a touchdown pass to James White. But Watson and the Texans had an answer, going 75 yards of their own and finishing off the drive with a trick-play. DeAndre Hopkins took the reverse then flipped the ball to Watson, who dove over the pylon for the TD to make it 28-9.
The Patriots still found a way to make it interesting in the closing minutes. Brady hit White and Julian Edelman for late touchdowns to make it 28-22, but they still needed to convert an onside kick with 50 seconds left to have a chance. The ball took a nice bounce for running back Brandon Bolden, but it went just a little too high and Bolden couldn't quite reel it in. That sealed the game for Houston.
With the loss, the Patriots fell to 10-2 on the season and slid to the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The Baltimore Ravens (10-2) hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Pats and are now in the driver's seat for home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
Up Next: It's not getting much easier for the Patriots. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs come to Foxboro for one of the biggest tests of the season for the defense next Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EST.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].