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Pats find a way to beat Texans despite being down 4 linemen

They never fail to do this at least once a year. Every single season, the Patriots walk into enemy territory against a team they should have no problem dismantling, but they play to the level of their opposition and make things interesting.

This week in Houston was no exception, as the Pats - who were 8-point favorites when the game kicked off - survived a 13-point deficit to knock off the Texans 25-22. They were down 22-9, and if not for a few gifts from the Texans offense, this could’ve been a bit more of a scare.

This contest was the “Lock of the Week” for many - including myself - and needless to say, many were disappointed in how the Patriots performed. Mac Jones kept his team in the game, but the offensive effort certainly had room for improvement against a defense that has allowed 95 points in its last 3 contests.

And not without its drama, the Patriots were also without 4 starting offensive linemen due to COVID-19 protocols. All things considered, they held their own and arose to the challenge; Justin Herron, James Ferentz, Ted Karras, and Yodny Cajuste rounded out David Andrews on the front five. They only conceded 1 sack throughout the game, and kept the pocket very-well contained.

8-year veteran James Ferentz got the nod against Houston today.

PIC: David Silverman

Let’s take a look at what happened on Sunday at NRG Stadium; the good, the bad, and what’s next.

The Patriots’ offense was its own worst enemy.

It’s not as though the Patriots were facing a tough defensive team; the Texans consistently are one of the lowest-rated defenses in the league this year. But yet again, the Patriots committed too many mistakes. Damien Harris had a costly fumble at the end of the second quarter; they led the team downfield and were thought to have punched in a touchdown, but he fumbled the football just before he crossed the plane and subsequently turned it over. Harris has committed 2 fumbles already, despite being a solid option in the backfield. Jakobi Meyers dropped a pass that hit his hands, potentially for a 40-plus-yard gain. The offense needs to convert on the opportunities when they have them, or this could be a long & frustrating season.

The Texans gave New England a gift with its sloppy Special Teams play.

All 3 PAT attempts - spanning both teams - were missed to start the game. Ka’imi Fairbairn, a five-year veteran kicker, missed his first two extra points and a field goal, giving back the Patriots what would’ve been five points to start the game. The Pats also benefited from a trick-play gone wrong; Houston punter Cameron Johnston punted the ball off his own teammate’s head, essentially on-par for Sunday’s proceedings. Why would Houston even dream of this play call up by 13 against a team that was the clear favorite?

To tie the bow on opportunities, the gifts will eventually run dry on both sides of the ball. The Patriots simply need to control their own offensive, defensive, and special teams destinies.

Mac Jones is settling in.

I’m not going to make a claim that McCorkle is anywhere near where he needs to be, but he’s a welcome change of pace from a Cam Newton-led offense last year. Mac went 23-for-30, threw one touchdown pass and was picked off once. Probably the most noteworthy marks of Jones’ progress are the comments from his teammates. “I think I said that every week, how much we believe in him,” said longtime offensive lineman David Andrews. “He’s a great player, great guy, and just the poise you’ve seen out of him these first four weeks, I can’t imagine."

Christian Barmore belongs here.

I was incredibly high on the Christian Barmore pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft; my exact words were that Barmore “has potential to be the biggest steal of the draft.” I still think that’s true today. The Alabama product made a pair of tackles, but more importantly, he drew 2 key holding penalties to bring up “and-long” situations for the Texans. I’m very excited to see what Christian Barmore can continue to bring to the table.

Up Next: The Cowboys, who at the moment are going toe-to-toe with the Giants, come to Foxboro. This is a tricky one; right now, I’d say this is truly a pick’em game. Dak Prescott is composing a nice year for himself, throwing for over 1k yards and 10 TD’s, only getting picked off once. If the Pats secondary doesn’t show up, this could get ugly fast. But if Devin McCourty, Jalen Mills, and company are able to step up and lock down Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, the playing field evens out. Let’s see how the Cowboys do in Week 5 before we rush to make judgments.


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