Foxborough, MA - The New England Patriots got back to their winning ways in their first game that counted since losing last February's Super Bowl to the Philadelphia Eagles as they defeated the Houston Texans 27-20 on Sunday.
The Patriots got on the board early in the game with their first drive resulting in a twenty-one yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski, who became a crucial target for the quarterback on third downs throughout the game. Brady added two more touchdowns during the second quarter, one to running back James White and the other to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. The scoring for the Patriots was rounded out by kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who put up two field goals of his own.
While the offense once again ran like a well-oiled machine, the defense stole the show for the Patriots as they seemed to deliver an energized performance after the departure of defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and the return of defensive stalwart Dont'a Hightower. The Texans were limited to field goals until the later in the third quarter when a score was added by running back Alfred Blue. Quarterback Deshaun Watson also threw a touchdown to Bruce Ellington in garbage time.
The close score was not indicative of how the Patriots' defense and offensive line, two frequent weaknesses of the team, played as Brady had an abundance of time in the pocket, compared to Watson, who seemed to be touched on every play. The Patriots defense limited Watson to under two hundred yards passing and Stephon Gillmore even picked him off once.
The Patriots, on the other hand, moved to 1-0 on the backs of Brady, who went 26 of 39 for 277 yards passing, Gronk, the top receiver with seven receptions for 123 yards, and Rex Burkhead who ran for 64 yards after Jeremy Hill, who had racked up 25 yards, went down with a knee injury.
Next week, the Patriots will continue battle with the AFC South as they travel to Jacksonville for a rematch of the 2018 AFC Championship Game with the Jaguars.