FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ defense was one miraculous Tom Brady comeback drive away from getting verbally assaulted by fans, the media and Bill Belichick for their performance Sunday against the Houston Texans.
OK, so they’ll probably still be lectured by Belichick, but by winning 36-33, the Patriots’ defense saved itself an immediate tongue lashing by everyone else. I’ll admit, I have 420 words written and scrapped on how terrible the Patriots’ defense performed Sunday.
The Patriots’ defense knows it has to play better moving forward. They allowed Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to throw for 301 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another 41 yards. They let up 417 yards and 26 points, and they didn’t look much better in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints. They looked a lot worst in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The unit has major issues to fix by the end of the season.
“I think Bill said it the best after the game. We?ve got a lot of work to do defensively,” safety Devin McCourty said Sunday. “I was talking to (Chris) Hogan. He said, ?Offensively, we?ve got a lot of work to do.? So, it?s just a constant work in progress. We?ve just got to keep after it. No plays are the same. Like we gave up some big plays on this guy scrambling and throwing it back, which is not the drop back, throw it down the field, pick play or something like that — which, we fixed that today, but that?s the NFL.
“It?s always going to be something new, so I think today, obviously, was a tough test with Watson, but it doesn?t get easier next week with Cam Newton. So, I think the good thing is we?ll get to break this film down and we have to be highly critical of how we played against Watson because we?re going to see something similar next Sunday.”
The Patriots did at least finish Sunday against the Texans, which they didn’t do in Week 1 in their loss to the Chiefs. The Patriots made a third-down stop deep in their own territory, forcing the Texans to kick a field goal. That allowed quarterback Tom Brady to march down the field for the go-ahead touchdown.
“We took the field like, ?Let?s just get off the field and give the ball back to our offense.? We obviously wanted to get off earlier,” McCourty said. “I think it was a two-point game, so you know, we get the ball to our offense and we just need a field goal. But, they were able to put a couple plays together and get into field goal range. But, we knew once we got there, we had to make them kick three to just give ourselves a chance to win the game, especially once we started using our timeouts. …
“Defensively, we?ve got a lot of faith. If we just give our offense the ball back with some time, they can make it happen. But, they did a great job. Odds are stacked against them, that?s a great defense on the other side, and to drive down there and get the game-winning touchdown was great.
“I thought that was a true game where everything didn?t go right for us as a team, but we just kept fighting. I think, after the Kansas City game where we kind of all felt like we didn?t do that, it was big to be a part of today where guys just kept fighting and kept playing and just let it be what it was going to be. But, your effort wasn?t going to be the reason why we didn?t finish and get a win.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images