The Houston Texans were playing on the road, but they were facing a third-string quarterback whose top receiving target, Rob Gronkowski, played just 14 snaps and finished without a catch. That’s a game the Texans should win.
And yet, they lost, 27-0, to New England.
“This is going to hurt,” three-time Super Bowl champion and current Houston radio host Ted Johnson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “This is going to hurt because I think collectively, particularly the defense, they were feeling pretty good about themselves after the first two games of the season. That defense, they did a phenomenal job last weekend with Travis Kelce and Spencer Ware, keeping their production down. Dominant performances on third down and in the red zone. A lot of people thought preseason that this could be a top-five defense, and after the first two games, it sure looked like it. But what did the Patriots do? They do what they do. Josh McDaniels puts together a really great game plan. I was surprised that they didn’t rattle that kid (Jacoby Brissett) at all. They had designed runs for him on the perimeter, they were pounding the football with LeGarrette Blount up the middle, and they were doing a lot of change of pace – jet-side stuff to the perimeter, sweeps to the perimeter – and really put a lot of pressure on the outside linebacker, and they just didn’t know what to do. It was like this team, from the very beginning, were rattled and never could recover. It was like they were always a step behind. I’ve seen it time and time again. Teams come in there with all the confidence in the world and a game plan, and it just never works out for them. That’s what the Patriots do.”
Lamar Miller ran 21 times for 80 yards, DeAndre Hopkins caught four passes for 56 yards, and the Texans committed three turnovers, which led to 14 Patriots points.
It was an ugly night.
“What I saw from this offense was an anemic running game,” Johnson said. “Lamar Miller is doing the best that he can, but right now, the offensive line (isn’t performing well). When you have probably the best free-agent running back in the market and you probably get the best quarterback option in free agency and you get him as your quarterback, you want to put a good offensive line in front of them – and they tried to. They drafted Nick Martin out of Notre Dame, a center who’s going to be a plug-and-play guy for the next 10 years. He gets hurt in training camp and he’s out for the rest of the season. And then you have Duane Brown, who had a horrible quad injury from last year and he still hasn’t been cleared to play this year. He’s an All-Pro left tackle. So you’re playing with backups at the left tackle and at the center positions. The offensive line, right now, it’s going to be an issue for this team. They couldn’t run the football and so he couldn’t set up the play-action pass.”
The Texans (2-1) host the Titans (1-1) on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 1 p.m. ET. It’s a game Houston should win, but with this franchise, nothing is guaranteed.
“They have capable players,” Johnson said. “Other than the offensive line, they got everything they need at this point. They’ve just got to execute. This franchise, they’ve never been able to beat teams when they really need to to validate themselves as potential contenders. This franchise continually loses games they’re supposed to win if they’re ever going to get over the hump and be taken seriously in this league.”