Saturday, August 19, 2017

Houston Texans down New England Patriots 27-23 in NFL pre-season action

Jaelen Strong (11) scored the first touchdown for the
Houston Texans on a two-yard pass from Tom Savage.
Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (August 19, 2017) In a game that saw a good amount of give-and-take action the Houston Texans battled the New England Patriots to a 27-23 win in front of 71,504 fans at NRG Stadium in the first home appearance for the Texans in 2017. The win pushes the Texans pre-season record to 1-1, while the 2016 Super Bowl Champions fall to 0-2. Hosuton will return to pre-season action on Saturday, August 26 against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. In their final pre-season game of 2017, they will return home to face the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, August 31, 207. Both games are scheduled for a 7 p.m. CDT start.

The game saw a large amount of ppalying time by players hoping to make both team's rosters. Afetr both teams played a series of downs, the Texans scored in their second possession when Tom Savage connected with a pass to Jaelen Strong for a touchdown. Nick Novak split the uprights for the extra point to give the Texans a 7-0 lead at the 1:13 mark in the first quarter. Savage drove the ball 58 yards in 11 plays in 6:48. In their first possession of the game, they moved the ball 79 yards in a drive that ended on a fourth and six play with only a two-yard game. At that point, the Patriots took over and advanced the ball 17 yards before being forced to punt, giving Houston their second possession of the game.

The Patriots came right back in the second quarter to even the score when Tom Brady engineered a 75-yard drive that ended in a 22-yard pass to Rex Burkhead for the Patriots' first touchdown. Stephen Gostkowski kicked the obligatory extra point to tie the score at seven. After the kickoff, the Texans replaced Savage with rookie Deshaun Watson, who took the reins of the Texans. He drove the ball seven yards before having to punt. New England took possession of the ball and advanced 38 yards before settling for a 38-yard field goal by Gostkowski with 9:53 remaining in the first half. After the kickoff, Watson took the Texans 62 yards before Ka'imi Fairbaim booted a 31-yard field goal to tie the score at 10 at the 5:11 mark in the second quarter. The Patriots added three more points right after the two-minute warning with a 51-yard Gostkowski field goal to take a 13-10 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Tom Brady (12) compeletd six passes for 67 yards and
one touchdown, in limited action, against the Texans.
Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography,
Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved

New England added another field goal to their total at the 6:03 mark of the third quarter with a 42-yard Gostkowski attempt. On their next possession, the Texans drove 75 yards in five plays, which was capped by a two-yard run by Watson. The Houston drive was highlighted by a 63-yard pass from Watson to D'Onta Foreman to set up the score. Novak added the extra point to give the Texans a 17-16 lead at the 4:18 mark in the third quarter. New England took the kickoff at the 25-yard line and on the first play, Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked for a seven-yard loss, causing a fumble which was recovered by rookie Matthew Godin on the Patriots' 18-yard line. The Texans turned the possession into a 35-yard field goal by Fairbaim to take the score to 20-16. The Patriots responded with a 10 play, 83-yard drive; resulting in a 25-yard Garoppolo pass to D.J. Foster for the score. With the kicking extra point, New England regained the lead 23-20. The Texans were not content to let New England remain in the lead. After the Texans had a series on down, the ball went over to the Patriots. On the first play for that set of downs, Garoppolo had an intended pass for rookie Cody Hollister was intercepted by Denzel Rice at the New England 43-yard line. He returned the interception 39 yard to the Patriots four-yard line. On the very next play, Foreman rushed the final four yards for the score. Novak added the conversion to take a 27-23 lead with 11:07 remaining in the game.

Savage saw limited action in the first half, completing 8-of-9 passes for 89 yards and one TD. Brady's appearance was similar to Savage's, going 6-of-9 for 67 yards and one touchdown. Watson completed three-of-10 passes for 102 yards. Quarterback Brandon Weeden saw action late in the game, completing five passes for eight yards. Ellington led the Texans in receiving, catching four passes for 93 yards, while Alfred Blue had five carries for 20 yards.

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