Some assorted notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ 27-20 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium:
— One bright spot for New England was the play of wide receiver Damiere Byrd, who caught six passes for 132 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
It was a career day for the speedy wideout, who’d never topped 90 receiving yards in an NFL game before Sunday.
“I think I’m proving to myself that I can be consistent and that I can continue to improve week in and week out,” Byrd said in his postgame video conference. “It’s a long season, as we all know, and my goal is just to continue to get better as the season progresses and playing my best football in November and December and just continue to find ways to help our team win games and score touchdowns.”
Byrd’s touchdown — a 42-yard bomb from quarterback Cam Newton midway through the third quarter — was his first as a Patriot and just the fourth of his NFL career. And it surprised him.
“It was a play that normally, I may not always get a look, so I was just trying to run the defender out of there,” the former track star explained. “And Cam (Newton) made a great read and a great throw, and then I just tried to shield off the defender and tried to make a good over-the-shoulder catch.”
A bit player during his five seasons with Carolina and Arizona, Byrd has been New England’s No. 1 receiver from a playing time perspective this season. The 27-year-old entered Week 11 having played 92.2% of the Patriots’ offensive snaps, and he hardly left the field Sunday.
Byrd has not put up the type of numbers one would expect from a WR1, but he now leads all Patriots in receiving yards (469) and ranks second in catches (32) behind running back James White (33) through 10 games. He’s been a reliable target for Newton, who said Byrd consistently delivers on the practice field.
“Damiere was just doing exactly what he’s been doing all year, pretty much, in practice,” the Patriots quarterback said. “For it to show up in the game is just what Coach always talks about: practice preparation and execution turns into in-game reality. Damiere has been doing a great job on those routes, and for him to keep coming downhill and for it to show up on gameday, it just showed what he’s capable of doing today.”
Five of Byrd’s six catches against Houston went for more than 15 yards, including a 30-yard catch-and-run that helped set up his touchdown. He also added an 11-yard carry on a reverse.
His breakout came on a quiet afternoon for fellow wideout Jakobi Meyers, who finished with just three catches on three targets for 38 yards. Meyers had averaged 9.25 targets per game over the previous four weeks.
— Veteran receiver Donte Moncrief made his Patriots debut after being elevated from the practice squad. He caught one pass on two targets for 15 yards in limited action and also played on special teams.
Tight end Jordan Thomas finished without a catch on one target in his first game for New England.
N’Keal Harry, in his second game back from a concussion, started slowly with two penalties and finished with five catches on eight targets for 41 yards. Those totals might have been higher had Newton not bounced two short passes to the second-year wideout during the fourth quarter.
— Defensive tackle Adam Butler (shoulder) was inactive for the first time in his NFL career, ending one of New England’s longest consecutive games played streaks.
Butler had appeared in every Patriots game since joining the team as an undrafted rookie in 2017 (64 total, including playoffs). That was the fourth-longest streak among active Pats players behind guard Joe Thuney (now at 84), safety Devin McCourty (87) and long snapper Joe Cardona (102).