Rookie Brissett, Blount lead Patriots past Texans 27-0
Another week, another new quarterback, another win for the New England Patriots.
Jacoby Brissett had a 27-yard touchdown run in his first NFL start,LeGarrette Blount added scoring runs of 1 and 41 yards , and the Patriots beat the Houston Texans 27-0 on Thursday night.
It was the Patriots' first shutout win since 2012 and the first time the Texans have been shutout since 2003.
Brissett began the season as the third-string quarterback behind Tom Brady, the franchise cornerstone who is serving a four-game suspension for his role in "Deflategate," and Jimmy Garoppolo - inactive after injuring his right shoulder last week against Miami. Brissett's start on Thursday was the first time that New England had started a rookie quarterback since Drew Bledsoe in 1993.
The Texans (2-1) entered the game with the NFL's third-ranked defense and nine sacks through two games, but they struggled to put pressure on the 23-year-old quarterback.
Brissett was steady throughout, moving the chains on offense with a diet of short passes and scrambles. The Patriots (3-0) also mixed in lots of pre-snap motion and shifts that helped create both throwing and running lanes for Brissett. He finished the night 11 of 19 for 103 yards, and ran eight times for 48 yards.
Houston didn't help itself on special teams either, turning the ball over twice on fumbled kickoff returns. Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler was 24 for 41 for 196 yards and was sacked twice. He also had a promising drive in the second quarter thwarted by Jamie Collins' interception . The Texans had a chance to get on the board just before halftime, but that drive stalled at midfield.
Brissett on his first NFL touchdown: "It was crazy. It was awesome. Definitely great to see all the players just run up to you. I got a headache from all the head bobbing and head bumping. But it was definitely worth it."
Osweiler on the loss: "I felt like we had a great week of preparation, very focused. The game plan was solid and we worked hard. So this is hard to take. But the bottom line is that New England had a great game plan. They deserve all the credit. But we'll bounce back from this one."
BLOUNT FORCE: Blount ran 24 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns, including the 41-yarder in the fourth quarter to give New England a 27-0 lead. It's the third time in his career he has had back-to-back 100-yard games, and the first time since 2011. Blount also had a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter.
GRONK RETURNS: Tight end Rob Gronkowski made his season debut after sitting out the first two weeks with a hamstring injury he sustained during training camp. Gronk was used sparingly and mainly as a blocker, appearing in just 14 snaps, and three in the second half.
RUNNING QBS: Brissett's 27-yard touchdown run was the longest for a Patriots quarterback since Steve Grogan went 41 yards for a score in 1976. The longest run of Tom Brady's career is 22 yards.
"I was just running until I got stopped," Brissett said. "It worked out how we planned it was going to work out. The guys up front did a great job. And Malcolm on that side did a great job blocking that guy."
CHALLENGE: The Patriots' first touchdown was set up by a successful coach's challenge by Bill Belichick. After Stephen Gostkowski's 24-yard field goal put New England up 3-0, Houston's Charles James fielded the ensuing kickoff from just inside the end zone. James ran it out, and was tripped up at the 17. But the ball squirted out on a hit by Brandon Bolden. Duron Harmon recovered for the Patriots, but James ruled down on the field. Belichick challenged, and the call was reversed.
STREAK ENDS: The Texans entered Thursday having not allowed touchdown in six consecutive quarters. That streak ended in the first quarter with Brissett's 27-yard touchdown run.
INJURIES: Houston tight end Stephen Anderson left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.
MOVING ON UP: Belichick tied Curly Lambeau for fourth place on the regular-season wins list with 226. He is now only behind Tom Landry (250), George Halas (318) and Don Shula (328).