Slow start on defense, key stops at end
Allowing an 18-play, 79-yard touchdown scoring drive to open the game, one that ate up over 10 minutes of clock, was not the start that the Patriots defense was hoping for. J.C. Jackson’s pass interference penalty on the first third down of the drive loomed large, as Houston’s balanced attack had early success. Unfortunately, it was just a sign of things to come as the Patriots’ defense couldn’t come up with critical plays early on.
It looked like the Patriots defense would bounce back on the second drive, immediately getting to third down but Davis Mills’ pass was misjudged by both Jackson and Devin McCourty, and Chris Moore high-pointed the catch and broke loose for a 67-yard touchdown. After allowing a methodical drive on Houston’s first possession, the Pats were burned by a big play on the second.
The Texans would also convert three fourth-down plays in the first half, as they allowed the Patriots just three possessions in the opening frame, including two fourth-down conversions on the final drive that ended with a field goal. Getting a red zone hold was a positive end of the dreadful first half for the Pats D, but they allowed 237 yards in the first half and didn’t do much outside of holding Houston to field goal before the break.
The problems would continue in the second half, coming off of a Mac Jones interception, the Texans took just two plays to hit the end zone again, using a flea-flicker for their second big-play score of the contest. It was a big situation, coming off a quick change, where the offense needed some help but the defense couldn’t come through.
The defense would turn around late in the second half, forcing back-to-back punts and then getting a missed field goal from the Texans that opened the comeback door.