by Zach Goldman
To start off the season, the Patriots went up against the Texans in a fierce matchup that everyone was projecting New England to lose. “Brady’s too old,” and “they have no receivers” echoed through the national media prior to kickoff. Per usual, all of the reporters doubted Brady’s ability to lead the team to victory. Although we played against a menacing Texans defense – starring players like JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, Johnathan Joseph, and Tyrann Mathieu – New England stood tall, beating the Houston Texans 27-20 at Gillette Stadium in front of the roaring, home crowd.
New England had a quiet first drive which resulted in the patriots punting on 4th down to the Texans. On the Texans first snap of the season, Deshaun Watson attempted to hand the ball off to his running back Lamar Miller who missed the handoff, resulting in a minor miscommunication reaping a huge consequence, a fumble. The Patriots recovered the ball with great field positioning, setting Brady up on the path to throw his first touchdown of the season. A couple drives later Brady completes a pass to Rob Gronkowski, who is considered to be the greatest tight end in NFL history. The throw was nothing less than perfection, placed right on Gronk’s back shoulder into double coverage and the big man brought it in. Before the game, Tyrann Mathieu, a.k.a. the honey badger, expressed that in his first ever game against Brady, he was going to get an interception. With just about four minutes left in the first quarter, he delivered. Brady was targeting James White on a crossing route, the ball got tipped by a lineman. The ball soared in the air and ended up going right into the hands of the Honey Badger who caught the ball confirming he indeed is a man of his words. Although Brady threw a Pick, he still had an MVP-like game throwing for 277 yards and completing 26 of 39 pass attempts with 3 touchdowns. Last year, the Patriots picked up Wide Receiver Phillip Dorsett; He saw little to no work, an afterthought. With the suspension of the Patriots number one wide receiver, Julian Edelman, Dorsett had to fill in the role for the team. Dorsett had a masterful game hauling in 7 of 7 targets for 66 yards with one touchdown. New England held Deshaun Watson to 176 yards on 17 of 34 pass attempts with a 62.9 passer rating.
In preparation for week one, during practice, the Patriots defense emphasized holding the pocket to keep Watson from being able to scramble. When it came game time New England was very successful. The Patriots racked up 3 sacks and immense pressure. While the special teams had an insanely good play at one point in the game, they also managed to slip up causing a mishap. The score was 27-13, New England had forced a fourth down and the Texans were forced to punt. Riley McCarron, the punt returner for the Patriots, was back to receive the punt. When the ball came to him, he muffed it. Unfortunately, Riley McCarron’s time on the Patriots was short lived because he got released from the team after the game. At the end of the fourth quarter, the Patriots were up 27-20. With over just a minute left in the game the Patriots were forced to punt the ball. Ryan Allen, the Patriots punter, pinned the Texans on the one-yard line! The defense was able to silence the Texans offense to seal the victory. Overall, the Patriots defense had an impeccable game, but Brady’s outstanding offensive performance outshined them.
Some things to take away from this season opener is that Brady shut up all the haters saying he’s too old to continue to play at this high of a level, Dorsett had a breakout game finally showing his capabilities in the NFL, and the Patriots defense is a force to be reckoned with. Flowers and Wise are two great pass rushers who are going to continue to grow together. The two of them are very special and together they could be devastating to opposing offenses. Finally, the Texans were supposed to be a difficult opponent for the Patriots, but they seemed to silence them rather easily.
Next week New England is facing the Jacksonville Jaguars, who arguably have one of the best defenses in the league. The Patriots need to focus on slowing down Fournette who caused problems for them in the AFC championship. Also, the offensive line will need to prepare for the Jaguars front five also known as sacksonville. The Jaguars defensive line is arguably the strongest in the league, with Calais Campbell leading the charge. New England will need to prepare for an intense matchup against the Jaguars. In week one, the Patriots did a good job protecting Brady and they will need to continue to do so. Brady isn’t getting any younger and the less he gets hit the better.