NFL Football

33
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Houston 10 10 7 6 33
New England 7 14 7 8 36
36
10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET17:00 GMT1:00 10:00 AM MST12:00 PM EST12:00 PM CT21:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:� , September 24, 2017
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts  Weather: 84°, Clear  Attendance: 65,878

Watson, Texans face bigger challenge against Patriots

According to STATS
According to STATS

Houston Texans at New England Patriots

  1. Houston beat Cincinnati, 13-9, in Week 2, evening up its record at 1-1, and winning for just the third time since the beginning of 2013 when scoring 13 or fewer points in a game (all three wins came versus the Bengals). The Texans are averaging just 234.5 yards per game in 2017 -- fewest in the AFC.
  2. New England rebounded from its loss to Kansas City in Week 1, throttling the Saints, 36-20, last Sunday, and improving to 1-1 on the year. The Patriots piled up 555 yards of offense against New Orleans in Week 2 -- their most in single game since a 610-yard performance against the Steelers in 2013 (Week 9).
  3. Including winning 27-0 in Week 3 last season, and a 34-16 victory in the 2016 playoffs, the Patriots have defeated the Texans six straight times by an average of 18.3 points. New England is 5-0 all-time against Houston at Gillette Stadium (including postseason).
  4. DeShaun Watson led the way for the Texans in Week 2, leading the team in passing yards (125) and rushing yards (67) in his first career NFL start. Watson is the third rookie quarterback in franchise history to win his first career start (also David Carr in 2002 and T.J. Yates in 2011).
  5. Tom Brady threw for 447 yards and three scores last Sunday, on the way to his 184th career regular-season victory -- two shy of tying Peyton Manning and Brett Favre for most of any QB all-time. Brady has 10 career games with 400+ yards passing, fourth most in league history.
  6. New England has not had a giveaway in five straight regular-season games dating to Week 15 in 2016 -- the longest active streak in the league. The last team to go six straight games without turning the ball over were the 49ers: Week 13 in 2011 to Week 1 in 2012.
Team Comparison

Houston
 
New England
10.0 Points 31.5
144.5 Pass Yds 357.0
130.5 Rush Yds 121.5
1 Takeaways 1

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Deshaun Watson will try to do something Sunday that has never been done by a rookie quarterback.

Defeat a Bill Belichick-coached team as a visiting player.

Watson, who will be making his second professional start, leads the battered and bruised Houston Texans into Gillette Stadium for a game with the New England Patriots, who have also been dealing with assorted injuries.

And Sunday, Watson will have to deal with Belichick and his various schemes.

Rookie quarterbacks are 5-15 (in the first or only meeting of a rookie season) against Belichick through his time in New England. But the Foxborough numbers are even scarier -- 0-8 with five touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 50.7 passer rating.

"Tough, physical, disciplined, well-coached team," Watson said Wednesday. "They play all four quarters and make you make mistakes. It's a tough opponent."

Beating Belichick -- and Tom Brady -- in Foxborough (or anywhere else) has been difficult for any player or any team, and the Texans have never won in Foxborough. They're 0-5 there and 1-8 overall against the Patriots, with six straight losses.

The Patriots defeated the Texans 34-16 in the playoffs last season when Houston was without injured J.J. Watt. He is back and healthy, but this is a banged-up football team that will come into New England this weekend.

Watt went down with his back injury when his team lost at New England a year ago. Brady sat that one out as part of his four-game DeflateGate suspension.

"It's a big challenge," said Texans head coach Bill O'Brien, who used to be Belichick's offensive coordinator. "Obviously, the Patriots played really well yesterday (beating the Saints 36-20 in New Orleans).

"It's a road environment. We've got to be able to go up there and handle the road environment. Obviously, they don't lose too often at home. They've got a great team."

Both teams are 1-1, losing their openers before winning in Week 2.

Houston won with Watson making his first start as a pro. That was in Cincinnati against the Bengals. The circumstances are very different this week.

O'Brien didn't think the environment would overwhelm his rookie.

"I think anybody that's played in the types of games he played in -- it's different, obviously, because it's the NFL -- but he's played in national championship games," the O'Brien said. "He's played in big games relative to the ACC. Dealing with the big-game environment, the noise, I think that's important. Now, dealing with the Patriots' defense relative to a college defense is a whole (different) thing.

"The thing about Deshaun is he doesn't get nervous. I asked him before the (Cincinnati) game, 'Are you nervous?' He said, 'Naw, I don't get nervous.' I see that, so I don't really concern myself too much with that."

While the Texans were scrambling to fill out their roster amid an avalanche of injuries, the Patriots appeared to be getting at least a bit healthier.

Linebacker and defensive leader Dont'a Hightower, who has missed the first two games with a knee injury, and key receiver Danny Amendola, out Sunday with a concussion and knee injury, were back at practice Wednesday.

Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a groin injury Sunday, said Monday that he was "day to day." He was spotted at practice Wednesday but apparently didn't work.

"It's a marathon of a season and you're going to have the ups and downs of guys being in, being out," Brady said Wednesday. "You always love to be as healthy as possible, but that's probably not the reality of most teams."

Watt comes into this game without a sack of Brady.

"He's an exceptional player," Brady said. "They move him around a lot. Earlier in his career, you used to kind of get a beat on where he'd be, (which) could help you out a little bit. But now they move him so much he's going to really face every guy that you have up front. (He'll) be on both sides, be inside, be outside. They run a lot of games.

"They've got a lot of scheme stuff that they use to try to get their guys free in the front, but all of those guys are exceptional athletes. J.J. is an incredible player."

The Texans, who beat the Bengals after losing three tight ends to injury, will be without cornerback Kevin Johnson, slated to be out four to six weeks with a knee injury.

"That's big, a big loss for us," said safety Eddie Pleasant, who slid over the play some corner last week. "Great player, great guy, great competitive spirit, someone we love having out there. We need him out there, can't wait to get him back."

Updated September 20, 2017

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