HOUSTON — Bill Belichick was wrong. You don’t get to say that too often.
The New England Patriots head coach predicted Wednesday that DeAndre Hopkins would make “a couple” great plays Sunday night. Belichick’s defense held Hopkins to just one in their 27-6 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, so surely he was happy to be wrong.
Credit mostly goes out to Logan Ryan, the cornerback who shadowed Hopkins for most of the game and individually allowed one catch for 40 yards on four targets with two pass breakups. Credit also goes out to Belichick, who game-planned to bracket Hopkins with a safety over the top on many plays. Final praise goes out to safeties Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon, both of whom provided Ryan with a safety blanket.
“I mean, (Hopkins) made a great play down the sideline,” Belichick said. “He’s a good receiver. It’s tough. We obviously played a lot of double coverage on him, but we did a good job battling. … You’ve got to double Hopkins. Big receiver, got strong hands, he’s kind of always open because of his size, his length and his catching radius.”
Hopkins’ great play came with 11:11 remaining in the fourth quarter, when the Patriots already had their 27-6 lead. Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer connected on a 40-yard pass to Hopkins after Ryan misjudged the throw and stopped short. Belichick knew it would happen, and the key was holding him to just one.
Ryan said he was “excited” when he learned he would be covering Hopkins this week.
“That’s what you come to work for,” Ryan said. “That’s what you put all that work in for, to stick some of the best and compete. That’s what it comes down to, when you stick these guys. The coaches kept telling me ’60 minutes, don’t have those lulls where you give a couple up.’ I feel like I gave him one at the end of the game that I regret, but that’s going to happen. It’s going to be a heavyweight fight.”
This was only the fourth game this season Hopkins has been held under 100 yards or without a touchdown. It’s the fewest receptions he’s hauled in all season and his third-fewest yards. Ryan’s lockdown performance didn’t happen by mistake.
“It’s good to see all the film study — I probably watched every route he ran all year, so it’s good to see it,” Ryan said. “It’s good to see those things pan out during a game and to be there and make a play.”
Ryan is having an incredible stretch with the Patriots. He’s allowed 9 catches on 26 targets for 143 yards with a touchdown and seven pass breakups over his last five games. Ryan won’t be happy until he’s perfect, however.
“Me, I feel like those knockdowns, a step closer (and) they should be interceptions,” Ryan said. “Those catches, I feel like, could have been knockdowns. That’s what keeps me motivated to come in here (Monday) morning when we land and put the work in, and that’s what keeps me going.”
Thumbnail photo via John Rieger/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Sep 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (26) looks to the sidelines against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won 41-14. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports