How Jacoby Brissett and Pats stifled Texans

A solid gameplan from New England set up the rookie quarterback well

Greg M. Cooper—X02835
Sep 22

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jacoby Brissett wasn’t perfect in his first NFL start Thursday night.He didn’t have to be.Thrust into the starting role three weeks into his first season in the NFL, Brissett looked calm and poised on Thursday Night Football. Paced by Brissett and an unrelenting running game, the Patriots throttled the Texans for a 27-0 victory.”I think he handled himself great, last week, this week, all week, every day,” New England coach Bill Belichick said.”He’s done nothing but come in here and work as hard as he possibly can. We had three quarterbacks, (and he had) to take his opportunities and learn from the other two guys …”This week it was pretty much all him. He’s just a hard-working kid that is really dedicated to doing what’s right for the team and trying to improve anything you tell him.”The Patriots improved to 3-0 during Tom Brady’s four-game Deflategate absence, and Belichick improved to 6-0 when starting a quarterback for the first time.Even with the lights of a prime time game shining bright, the former NC State quarterback showed flashes of his dual-threat ability early on. His first rush came off a read-option look, something the Patriots rarely ever run with Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo.For an encore, Brissett’s ran a bootleg into the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown. The rushing score was the longest for the Patriots since Steve Grogan in 1976.Brissett then ran to the sideline and gave Belichick the ball.”Make sure [the Texans] don’t get it. Make sure we get it. So I gave it to him,” said Brissett, who confirmed Belichick gave it back to him after the game.The Texans, who fell to 2-1 on the season, looked sloppy all night. Houston’s special teams fumbled away two kickoffs, leading to two New England touchdowns, and were also guilty of an interception. LeGarrette Blount scored from a yard out in the third quarter and broke a 41-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Blount finished with 105 yards on 24 carries.”We got smoked,” said Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork, a longtime Patriot. “We played [expletive], that’s the thought.”Added Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, who was in on only two tackles, “The Patriots played a great football game. We didn’t play well, we didn’t do a good job in any category. We got outplayed.”The Patriots’ defense, stung for 389 Ryan Tannehill passing yards in the final three quarters Sunday during a 31-24 win over the Miami Dolphins, responded with a strong effort that included linebacker Jamie Collins’ second interception in a span of five days. Collins also was in on 14 tackles.”We knew Jacoby was going to be all right,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty, meaning he knew that if the defense did its job the results would be there — and Houston was shut out for the first time in the regular season in 13 years. “We just did a good game of executing our game plan like we wanted to, and it led us to a win.”Brissett, 6-of-9 in his debut Sunday, was 11-of-19 for 103 yards passing and ran for 48 yards on eight carries Thursday. That total nearly surpassed Brady’s total rushing yards from 2015 (53). In 14 seasons, Brady has rushed for more than 48 yards eight times.Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels designed a scheme that included running plays for wide receiver Julian Edelman (three carries, 14 yards) and tight end Martellus Bennett (one for 6) and even option plays for Brissett, a third-round pick this year.”This whole week our coaching staff did a tremendous job,” Belichick said.In improving to 6-1 against the Texans, the Patriots recorded the 226th regular-season victory of Belichick’s career, tying him with Curly Lambeau for fourth place on the all-time list.The Sports XChange/Reuters contributed to this report.