We all know that the Texans are the youngest organization in the NFL. Currently in their 19th season, if the Texans were a person, they wouldn't even be old enough to drink yet! So the whatever rivalries they have are more baked into the division they play in than any sort of rich history. The Colts, the Jags, the Titans, those are the teams they see twice per year, every year, so they are certainly "rivals."
Of the AFC teams outside the AFC South, it's undoubtedly the New England Patriots that most FEEL like a division opponent, especially in recent seasons. Aside from 2014, the Texans have played the Patriots in every regular season since 2012, and twice in the postseason. Until last season, they were 0-8 in those games, with five of those losses under Bill O'Brien.
Then, the Texans broke through and won last season, and we all thought maybe our little baby — the Texans — were all grown up. It turned out to be a mirage. The Texans are likely playing out the string over the final two months of the season. However, yesterday they beat the Patriots for the second year in a row, by a score of 27-20, and even though Bill O'Brien and Tom Brady are gone, we learned the immutable truth — even in a 2-7 (now, 3-7) season, it ALWAYS feels good to be the damn Patriots!
Some winners and losers from yesterday's Texans victory ....
4. Justin Reid
It's been a long season for a lot of the players on the Texans' defense, including Reid, a third year safety who is viewed by many as a foundational piece of this team in future seasons. He earned that level of respect his first two seasons in the league, where he routinely made game changing plays. This season, his tackling has been suspect and he hasn't caused any turnovers. Reid even uncharacteristically snapped back at blogger Rivers McCown on Twitter last week when McCown criticized his tackling. Well, on Sunday, Reid finally had a vintage Reid game, leading the team in tackles (9), and getting his first career sack. He even apologized and made up with McCown after the game...
I appreciate you. I took the criticism to heart and had something to prove today. Salute. https://t.co/Ezj95t6GdH— Justin Reid (@JustinqReid) November 22, 2020
Good to see the win over the Patriots bringing people together!
3. Keke Coutee's redemption story
Speaking of redemption, maybe, just maybe, Coutee is going to get his shot to work his way back onto the NFL radar. In his rookie season in 2018, he had a couple of 11 catch games against the Colts, but injuries and mental errors put him in O'Brien's doghouse last season, and again this season. On Sunday, though, he was once again on the game day active list, and with the release of DeAndre Carter this week, Coutee took over punt return duties. Additionally, with Randall Cobb leaving the game with a foot injury, Coutee reclaimed his slot receiver role and scored a touchdown in the second quarter. Coutee becoming an asset for this team would be incredibly valuable, either as a future building block or trade bait to perhaps get an extra draft pick next spring.
2. Deshaun Watson
Amidst the sea of failure the Texans have been this season, there sits Watson, the one shining light that will guarantee this franchise a favorable head coach and GM hire in several weeks. On Sunday, Watson had everything on display to remind prospective coach and GM candidates why this opening will be sought after. He finished with 344 yards passing, two TD passes, and had his fifth straight game without an interception. He also left trademarks on two Patriot defenders on his way to this touchdown run....
1. Anthony Weaver
When you talk about so many beleaguered players on the Texans' defense, well, numerous flummoxed players equals one wildly frustrated and emotional defensive coordinator. It's how we wind up with soundbites like this one from Thursday from defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver....
Texans DC Anthony Weaver had a rant when asked about run defense: "Yeah, we gotta not give up 60 yard runs at the end of the game ... this narrative that's being painted like my guys aren't disciplined and running around blocks, quite frankly to put it bluntly, is bullshit." pic.twitter.com/e046wvzTIq— Asinine Punk (@riversmccown) November 19, 2020
Weaver went to the mattresses for his guys, and at least in the run defense game, they came through, holding the Patriots, the third leading rushing team in the league coming into the game, to 86 yards on 24 carries, with no run longer than 11 yards. I'm glad Weaver can enjoy a beverage for at least one night, knowing his unit came through when they needed to on Sunday.
4. Texans' running game
Truth be told, neither team ran the football well on Sunday, but the Texans made the Patriots' 86 yard output look like the 2019 Ravens. Outside of Watson's six scrambles for 36 yards, Duke Johnson and C.J. Prosise had 13 conventional rushing attempts for a total of 19 yards, and each had a long run of three yards. So literally, every rushing attempt they had was unsuccessful. Every single one. Somewhere, the oft-criticized (and currently on the injured reserve list with a concussion) David Johnson was watching this game, and the Texans' run blocking, saying "See?... SEE?!?"
3. P.J. Hall
One of the few bright spots on the Texans' defense this season has been the play of Hall, a fourth year former second round draft pick out of Sam Houston State, who was waived by the Raiders in the preseason, and picked up by Bill O'Brien. It turned out to be one of the few GOOD decisions O'Brien made, as Hall, on most game days, was the Texans' second most productive and active defensive lineman behind J.J. Watt. Well, like Watt in Week8 of 2019, Hall tore a pectoral muscle on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season, and unlike Watt last year, we won't get a chance to some back and play in the postseason. Hopefully, the new GM can find a way to bring back Hall in 2021. There's something there with him.
2. Tytus Howard's Twitter game
When it comes to social media, my suggestion to young players would be "Sure, have your various social media accounts, do your branding, but stay off your damn phone on game days. ESPECIALLY, an hour before kickoff!" Texans right tackle Tytus Howard, I am looking at you. If you follow Howard on Twitter then you were treated to these tweets on Sunday...
Hey, I get it. You want to show off your swag, point out to everyone how damn cool you look. BUT NOT AT 10:54 a.m. ON THE DAY WITH A NOON KICKOFF! Come on, man!
1. Josh McDaniels
For whatever Texan fans out there that may still want Patriots OC McDaniels considered for the Texans' head coaching job — are there some of you out there still? — perhaps Sunday will result in his being crossed off their list. While the Patriots did generate over 400 yards of total offense (not exactly exclusive company for Texan opponents), somehow the one nuclear weapon that the Patriots own offensively, Cam Newton in the run game, was deployed just three times on Sunday, for a total of six yards. On the crucial "have to have it" fourth down play on their final drive, on 4th and 4, I thought it would be an ideal time to finally use Newton in the run game. Instead, McDaniels dropped Newton back to throw, the Texans blitzed from the edge, and Newton threw a harmless incompletion to essentially end the game.
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