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Incompletions: Texans v. Patriots (The Kid Can Play)

With so much to write and talk about after every game, and not enough time for one person to write about it all, the masthead joins together and writes about the Texans’ near victory against the Patriots.

Houston Texans v New England Patriots

Matt Weston:

Texans-Patriots games have been a series of reoccurring, teeth-grinding nightmares, devoid of anything good ever happening.

Barrett Ruud covering Aaron Hernandez. Donte Stallworth’s deep touchdown catch.

Jacoby Brissett running around in a 27-0 shutout.

That faux one-possession loss in 2013 that was another notch in a fourteen game losing streak.

[Name Redacted] defecating all over the defense’s incredible performance in last year’s divisional round playoff loss.

1-7. That’s Houston’s record against New England. Except for 2010’s win that meant nothing once Cincinnati rested their starters against the New York Jets, Danieal Manning’s opening kickoff return, and Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus terrorizing Tom Brady last January, nothing good has happened when Houston plays New England.

Until yesterday. Yes, Houston lost. Yes, losing because of a late Brandin Cooks touchdown was devastating. Yes, Bill O’Brien wasting a timeout on a silly challenge and letting the clock run down ten seconds before Deshaun Watson called a timeout was frustrating; end of half game management has been a struggle for O’Brien the entire time he’s been the head coach. Yes, the end result wasn’t what anyone who has any affinity for this team, or any hatred of New England, wanted. But damn, yesterday was so much fun.

After all these years of nothing good ever happening against the Patriots, it was beautiful to have all expectations scrubbed away and for a fun and interesting game Houston-New England game actually happen. Whitney Mercilus strip-sacked Tom Brady from behind and Jadeveon Clowney returned it for a touchdown. Deshaun Watson made the first great throw of his NFL career by placing the ball on Ryan Griffin’s back shoulder and then threw another to Bruce Ellington. Additionally, the kicker made his kicks, the defensive backs shattered receivers leaping for passes, Christian Covington had the game of his career, J.J. Watt and Clowney hit Brady at the exact same time on a sack that didn’t end up counting, and Watson made some breathtaking maneuverings in the pocket.

Regardless of the result and the team being 1-2, yesterday was spectacular. With Deshaun Watson starting, Houston football is finally fun again, and I love him so much for it.

Luke Beggs:

KITTEN.

Kitten yeah, that game was fantastic. Deshaun Watson's awesome and none of the receivers shat the bed like they have in the past. The offense looked pretty good and the front seven only really started to fall off at the end when fatigue kicked in. I don't know what to say in regards to the future, but all I want to do is bask in the sunlight that Deshaun Watson has cast over us.

Capt Ron:

Failing to franchise tag A.J. Bouye cost the Texans this game. About every five plays, there was a Patriots receiver wide open in the Texans' secondary. At least three of New England's touchdowns were due to blown assignments and bad coverage. If not for that, Houston wouldn't have just won the game; they potentially would have blown out the Pats. KITTEN Rick Smith!

Aside from a crappy secondary, the rest of the Texans did great. The offensive play design and execution were actually fun to watch for the first time since 2012, and Houston has an exciting QB who can seriously ball in the NFL. The future looks bright.

Brett Kollmann:

I am numb right now. Watson carried this team to victory while Kareem Jackson and Corey Moore just gave it right back. The bright side is that we finally saw glimpses of what Watson could do as "the guy" in this offense, and it was spectacular. The down side is that it might take me a few weeks to get over such a painful, avoidable loss.

I just...I just can't right now.

Vega:

It's still fresh, and I have a strong desire to punch everything. That said, there's a lot to be excited about in this game, none moreso than Deshaun Watson. In any sport, the first thing I look for in a rookie is flashes. They all have growing pains, but you hope to see some inkling of what you hope they can become. Watson is doing more than that. He damn near single-handedly carried this offense to victory in Foxborough. In his third NFL game.

What gets real exciting is when you think about next year. Watt will have another year to get healthy. Watson will have a full year of experience under him. Then we use the NFL Draft to shore up the offensive line and... KITTEN KITTEN!!

Diehard Chris:

​Not hindsight, the team should have gone for it on fourth down. Tom Brady is always going to get what he needs. Also YOU HAVE A GUY WHO LOOKS LIKE A POTENTIALLY-EXCELLENT SHORT YARDAGE BACK IN D'ONTA FOREMAN—UUUUUUUUSSSSSEEEEEEEEE HHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On that fourth down, you basically control your own destiny. Get ONE YARD and you are likely to run clock out and win the game.

One yard. Yes, I understand WHY O'Brien kicked the FG—it is defendable--but based on game flow, the opponent, your secondary personnel, etc., you have to ride or die for ONE YARD.

Obviously the lack of timeout at the end was maddening and inexcusable, but let's get down to the real problem here.

1. (Rick Smith) - A.J. Bouye should still be a Houston Texan. He's worth more than that slightly-higher amount of cap space.

2. (Bill O'Brien) - Gee, Deshaun Watson looks pretty good. Looks like he has a future in this league. Wonder how much better he'd look if he'd had been the starter throughout training camp an pre-season? Only ​EVERY KITTENING BODY was calling for it. That's it, just everyone.

Uprooted Texan:

This might be the most fun I've had watching the Texans play on offense possibly since BOB was named head coach. They looked like they were firing on most cylinders, if not all of them. The running game was on fire, and Watson was making plays that I haven't seen a Texans quarterback make possibly ever. It was beautiful.

I really think Deshaun Watson is the guy. He made a handful of passes and escaped pressure, looking nothing short of magical. I look forward to seeing how he develops over the course of the season and wonder just how much further along he'd be if he'd had been named the starter earlier than halfway through the first game of the season.

That said, the amount I love Watson is inversely proportional with how much I truly hate this secondary. Every lead the Texans gained in this game was given back in short order because our safeties looked and played lost out in the field, most noticeably in the Patriots’ touchdowns to Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan, where literally no Texans defender was within 10 yards of the receiver. It's like Groucho and Harpo Marx are our two best options at safety.

Lastly, because this is what really rankles me right now, HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO YOU WASTE 10 SECONDS BY NOT CALLING TIMEOUT?! I don't care that Watson is a rookie. The delay on getting the timeout is not on him. If I'm Bill O'Brien, and I need to horde every last second to make a miracle comeback and tie/win the game, I am clinging to the sideline ref like a damn barnacle waiting to call timeout. I don't care if he's on the far side of the field, I don't care if he's on the far side of the [KITTENING] moon, I'm finding him and I'm waiting until a millisecond after DeAndre Hopkins' knee hits the ground to call timeout. Now, it's entirely possible that none of that would make a difference in the outcome, but that was just slipshod time management by BOB and it's friggin' infuriating.

bigfatdrunk:

The Bad:

-Bill O'Brien's game management was abysmal, something by which we should no longer be shocked. Whether it was kicking the FG in the first quarter, or the third and short play call at the end of the game, or not going for it on the ensuing fourth down, or the timeout funkiness at the end of the game, it's clear BOB struggles in this aspect of the game.

-Especially with Kevin Johnson out, our cornerbacks are slow, a problem exploited time and time again by Brandin Cooks. Tom Brady directly targeted Kareem Jackson and Johnthan Banks repeatedly. We already know Jackson's speed issues, and Banks ran a 4.61 40 about six years ago. There's no reason to think he's going to be any faster today, and that's slow for a CB. It was like Madden out there. Also, if you listened to BRR, you would've heard this was going to be a problem. #notbragging #totesbragging

-Our safety situation is even worse.

-The offensive line. Barf.

-What the heck was our defensive game plan, especially at the end of the game? Any of you old timers have flashbacks to 1993?

The Good:

-For the first time since 2012, the offensive play wasn't complete and utter trash. Credit where it's due: the gameplan actually took advantage of Deshaun Watson's strengths and limited the line's obvious weaknesses. This is also why Watson should've been the starter from the first snap of the preseason. That said, well done, BOB. It's nice to be pleasantly surprised.

-On BRR last week, S4T asked for some reason, any reason, for us to be optimistic for the game. If this really is a strategy change by BOB, there are a lot more reasons to be optimistic.

-Deshaun Watson, a/k/a Magic Man (I'm just floating that). I could write paragraphs about his play on Sunday, though he clearly needs some improvements!, but I want to focus on one thing: Watson is willing to push the ball downfield. This is incredibly important, I believe, to be successful in the NFL. It's also a trait Tom Savage simply doesn't have. 9.1 yards per attempt on Sunday isn't world-beating, but it's a thing and it's a start.

-Jadeveon Clowney: After he got so close to a TD last week, how excited are you for the guy?

-D.J. Reader: This kid balled all game. Great drive, very disruptive. After years of my #NTLust never being sated, this kid is the best we've had since the Oilers days. He's going to get better.

-Christian Covington also had a heckuva game.

If the offensive scheme change is real, if BOB is finally ditching his system so complicated that only Brady can run it, the outlook for this team is much brighter. It might be fun to watch the offense for the first time in five years. I'll take it.

Tim:

I’m going to try to look at this objectively. Whether I succeed in accomplishing that feat is to be determined.

Virtually every Texans fan expected the good guys to lose to the Patriots yesterday. And not just lose, but lose by double-digits in a one-sided affair. Instead, it took a twenty-five yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady and an incredible sideline catch by Brandin Cooks with less than thirty seconds left for the Patriots to beat the Texans. I’d say the Texans exceeded expectations.

The reason the Texans exceeded expectations is because Deshaun Watson played quarterback better than anyone has for Houston since Matt Schaub’s heyday. DW4 made an awful offensive line look downright competent at times. He transformed an offense stuck in first gear into a multi-faceted attack that moved the ball down the field. He threw the ball to players other than DeAndre Hopkins. Every time Deshaun Watson touches the ball, something spectacular could happen.

He’s still a rookie—that first interception was a horrendous decision—but we saw once again what we saw in the win over the Bengals: The moment’s never too big for Deshaun Watson, and he gets better as the game goes on. Those are special qualities that only special players have. Deshaun Watson is a playmaker, and the Texans will have a chance to win every game he plays this year. Because of him, the Texans just went toe to toe with the defending champions at their house and nearly pulled off an upset that would have ranked among the very best games in franchise history.

Like you, I’m flummoxed by Bill O’Brien’s failure to call a timeout with thirteen seconds left. There’s no excuse for that kind of mistake. I can’t reconcile that omission.

I’m less puzzled by O’Brien’s decision to kick a field goal to go up five points; I understand the fear of giving the ball back to the greatest quarterback in NFL history with that much time and less than a one-score lead, but I’m not going to come down hard on O’Brien for choosing a five-point lead, trusting his pass rush, and making the Patriots go the length of the field to score a touchdown over the possibility of turning the ball over on downs while clinging to a two-point lead. O’Brien looks shrewd if Corey Moore manages to hang onto the interception he had at the goal line or if the Texans had come up with the fumble they forced on the play before that. Instead, we bemoan a lack of aggressiveness and watch Cooks get both feet down on an endless loop.

It stings. The end result yesterday was brutal, but we have tangible reason to believe that the search for stability at quarterback in Houston has ended. If true, that would mean the chance for prolonged NFL success for years to come has arrived. If in fact that’s the case, I’ll take a last-minute loss to the Patriots on the road in exchange for the opportunity to contend for years to come.