Check out final grades and analysis below.
New England - 34
Houston - 31
|Position Unit||1st Half Grade||Final Grade|
Game Analysis for the New England Patriots
Pass Offense: Tom Brady was dialed in for the entire second half, finishing with 371 yards and leading consistent clock-eating drives. Gronk was unstoppable throughout the day, shredding the Houston secondary with a remarkable 21.2 yards per catch. After a start-and-stop first half, Brady was absolutely brilliant in carrying the Pats to victory.
Run Offense: James Develin had one of the funnest one-yard touchdowns you’ll ever see, breaking four or five tackles before powering into the end zone. Apart from that, however, the results were totally unspectacular. Stevan Ridley may have a chronic case of fumbilitis, but performances like this put far too much pressure on Brady and the passing game.
Run Defense: That’s four straight halves of Swiss cheese run D from the Pats. Yes, New England is undermanned, but it's not even competitive in maintaining gap integrity at times. When you add in shoddy tackling, that makes for a troublesome equation.
Pass Defense: All the dings and dents in the secondary forced the Patriots to turn to zone for the entire game, and the results were mostly poor. Nevertheless, credit the defense for coming up with two huge stops near the end of the game to seal the win, as they did last week. The Pats must buy some time off for this mentally tough unit at some point.
Special Teams: Gostkowski nailed two critical 53-yard field goals to give the Pats a late lead, continuing his underrated season of excellence. Ryan Allen also pinned the Texans deep on the last-gasp drive, taking up valuable time in the process. A good day apart from the opening kickoff.
Coaching: Well, Belichick must be quite well-versed in inspirational halftime speeches. New England did not make any sweeping on-field changes, but the execution overall was better. Getting off to a faster start is imperative, but credit the Pats for again coming up with the big plays in crunch time.
First-Half Analysis for the New England Patriots
Pass Offense: Tom Brady threw perhaps his ugliest pick of the season in the first quarter, and the offensive line may have taken a field goal off the board with a crucial third-down breakdown. On the positive ledger, Rob Gronkowski made it into the end zone for the fourth straight game with a beautiful, diving catch and roll.
Run Offense: With Stevan Ridley inactive, the Patriots backs haven’t been particularly explosive, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry with none going for longer than eight yards. If you’re looking for a silver lining, there haven’t been any fumbles, but the constant plodding runs aren’t much better.
Run Defense: The Texans have had the same number of rushing touchdowns in the half as they have all year. On both touchdowns, the Patriots struggled to get off blocks and make sound tackles, a telltale sign of a sloppy team. With New England primarily in its base defense today, there’s no excuse for these struggles.
Pass Defense: The secondary may be banged up, but the lack of focus at times has been alarming. Coverage breakdowns have opened up massive holes for Texans receivers, making life easy for rookie Case Keenum. The Pats did have a couple of nice pressures, one of which led to a Logan Ryan pick in New England territory.
Special Teams: It’s been an eventful half for this unit. The Pats conceded a 51-yard return to open the game, but Josh Boyce answered with his own big return to spark the Pats’ only touchdown drive. Stephen Gostkowski missed for the first time since Week 2 on a 55-yarder, but you can’t fault him on that distance.
Coaching: Bill Belichick must be growing tired of having to wake up his players at halftime. The Patriots are the better team, but instead of hammering the will out of Houston early, they’ve coasted. Maybe New England can flip on the switch again, but this is a troubling habit it has developed.