Sunday Night wrap-up: Patriots D knocks Brian Hoyer, Texans out

AP

It was enough for the Patriots to get Rob Gronkowski this week, so Tom Brady had someone to throw to.

But their next fill-in-the-blank challenge is going to be on the other side of the ball.

A defense that is facing its own injury issues laid waste to the Texans, holding them to seven first downs and 189 yards in a dominant 27-6 win. That moved the Patriots to 11-2, and back to the top of the heap in the AFC playoff hunt.

Of course, they lost safety Devin McCourty, defensive tackle Dominique Easley and linebacker Jonathan Freeny during the game, forcing them to continue to improvise.

That’s nothing new for the Patriots, who have been scraping together lineups all year on the other side of the ball. But the dominance they showed on defense was the story Sunday, with Jabaal Sheard leading a pass-rush that finished with six sacks.

But they were making plays in the back, with newcomer Leonard Johnson shining after signing Wednesday to provide cover. In fact, Johnson’s dancing was nearly the highlight of the night, except for the way they completely shut down a team that’s leading it’s division.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. Instead of automatic playoff berths, the champions of the AFC South and NFC East should have to play each other in Dayton on the Tuesday before the start of the playoffs for the right to play the Panthers.

With the loss, the Colts and Texans are still tied at 6-7, but you can’t discount the 5-8 Jaguars at the moment.

It’s a disaster of a division, with the two best healthy quarterbacks playing for the two worst teams, and if the Texans had either Blake Bortles or Marcus Mariota, they’d be running away with the thing.

2. Speaking of quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer deserves a medal for the beating he was taking back there before leaving to be evaluated for a concussion.

But he also deserves a seat, whenever the Texans get around to finding an actual answer at the position.

While Hoyer has been a dutiful fill-in, and certainly more deserving of the job than Ryan Mallett ever was, the Texans aren’t going far with him when he’s well.

He was 11-of-22 for 155 yards, and most of those yards came on two passes, a 49-yarder to Nate Washington and a 40-yard heave to DeAndre Hopkins.

That 66 yards on the other 20 attempts (3.3 yards per) is more indicative of the problems they have as an offense. The Texans have been reduced to tricks, and too-soon tries for fourth downs, and it’s unfair to blame that all on Hoyer.

But he’s also good enough to keep them from bottoming out, and having a high enough pick to land a Bortles or a Mariota.

3. The Patriots have major problems on special teams, with three weeks in a row featuring big gaffes.

This week, it was a muffed punt by Keshawn Martin, though the Texans weren’t able to take advantage of it. He was immediately replaced by Danny Amendola.

Part of the problem stems from all their injuries. Since linebackers, defensive backs, receivers and running backs make up the guts of all special teams units, the Patriots having to adjust the starting lineup every week has a trickle-down effect.

But they’re also not nearly as sharp under first-year special teams coach Joe Judge, after longtime assistant Scott O’Brien moved to the scouting department.

Whatever the problem, their special teams deficiencies could undermine them as the season goes along, and they run into teams which can actually score.

4. Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan deserves more credit that he’s going to get, but he did an admirable job on Hopkins.

Either that or the Texans built the most flawed game plan ever, with Hopkins targeted once in the first half. It was a 5-yard reception.

Hopkins has made plays against practically everyone this year, but he either wasn’t getting open or Hoyer wasn’t seeing him. And it makes no sense that Hoyer wouldn’t be looking for his best chance to make a play.

5. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is one of the best two-handed players in the NFL.

Playing with one, however, makes him look sort of ordinary. Very few teams have held Watt in check this year, as he had 13.5 sacks in his first 12 games.

But the large club he was wearing on his left hand is clearly limiting.

The only good news for the Texans is that former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney is looking like the guy they thought they were investing in. But without Watt joining him making plays, or one of them playing quarterback, the Texans don’t have much in the way of hope.

54 responses to “Sunday Night wrap-up: Patriots D knocks Brian Hoyer, Texans out

  1. Every time I’ve watched Hoyer I see him throwing lasers like Aron Rodgers that hit his receivers dead in stride 40 yards down the field, but unlike GB, Hoyer’s receivers never seem to be able to catch them.

  2. Great Defensive Game by Patriots!

    1. Patriot’s record last 28 games: Won 24 .. Lost 4.

    2. Since the end of the first half of FrameGate: Brady 39 Touchdowns, 8 Interceptions.

    3. Fumbles since FrameGate: research it, non-Patriots’ fans will be disappointed.

  3. See, clowns like this look like morons when they flap their yap. Some people never learn.

    jchipwood says:Dec 13, 2015 12:36 PM

    Still another L for the Patriots. Just like I predicted last week.

  4. Watt was limited but the Pats have more than their share of injuries at the moment.

    Felt bad for Hoyer he just kept getting hammered.

    Good win and the Titans are up next week.

  5. davidceltic says:
    Dec 13, 2015 11:35 PM

    3. Fumbles since FrameGate: research it, non-Patriots’ fans will be disappointed.
    ————————————————————-
    Agreed.

    Of course the frame-gaters will point out that the Patriots did fumble once tonight, ignoring the fact that it was on a punt using a k ball and would thus be irrelevant to any year on year comparisons.

  6. kurdishpats1 says:
    Dec 13, 2015 11:43 PM

    With the Steelers likely to beat Denver
    ————————————————————-
    The luster has come off of Osweiler after a dud of an offensive performance today, so I like Pittsburgh by about 20 in that game.

  7. ovojay says:
    Dec 13, 2015 11:33 PM
    Where’s that guy that said the patriots had to play at DEN? No not here? OK.

    _________

    He was half right, because Denver isn’t going to be playing in Foxborough this year.

  8. What’s this? Yet ANOTHER tremendous victory by the World Champions and rulers of the NFL??? 🙂

    You don’t say. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  9. With the Steelers likely to beat Denver next week and Bengals without Dalton, Super Bowl will more than likely go through Foxboro.
    ———————————————————————————

    Then no doubt all those visiting teams that MAY end up playing there will keep their playbooks under lock and key and get the latest in bug detecting devices when they get to the visitors locker room.

  10. Texans looked like the Texans tonight.
    Average Offensive Line
    Below Average QB and Running Back
    Can’t ride the defense every game.

    This team needs to miss the playoffs get a better draft position. Figure out the QB position, Hoyer, Yates are not the future.

  11. “Yeah, free dunkin donuts coffee tomorrow ! Thanks Pats!!”

    ————–

    Does that include any Dunkin donuts? There are a few in the Denver area, lol.

  12. Patriots earned my respect, they are a great team, led by a great coach. They could have easily buried the Texans in the second half but they pulled back. Too bad Hoyer is no different than all our other qbs in the past. No confidence. Plays scared. O-line can’t stop the good teams.

  13. kurdishpats1 says:
    Dec 13, 2015 11:43 PM

    With the Steelers likely to beat Denver next week and Bengals without Dalton, Super Bowl will more than likely go through Foxboro.

    Go Pats.
    ——————————————–
    Yeah, Cincy and Denver play each other in two weeks, which means a loss for one (tie unlikely, but all good).
    Pats just have to win two of three left I would think. Hopefully, they can take the last game off and heal up for playoffs.
    We need to get a handle on special teams…at the very least, just call fair catches and have Amendola or Edelman do that duty.

  14. This is why I never panicked after last week’s loss to Philly.

    You just knew that the Pats would get it together and Denver and Cinci were going to slip up.

    Had the feeling on Thursday that there was a strong possibility that the Pats would be back as the #1 seed by Monday morning.

    And so it came to pass.

  15. Surprisingly, the winner of the NFC East might have the 6th best record in the NFC conference. The Redskins hold tie breakers over most of the teams in the hunt. The NFC as a whole has been mediocre this season.

  16. Running the ball more took some heat off Brady and that o-line. You generally don’t score as many points, but it helps control the ball, wear down the opposing D, and protect your own D and QB. When your D plays as well as the Pats D has, it’s a good formula. And if that fails, you can still fall back on TB12. What a luxury.

  17. Rumors of New England’s demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated
    __________________________________

    They Beat the Texans Not a Super Bowl contender.

  18. Everyone in the league knows that if you touch Brady it will be a penalty and all other QB’s are fair game.

  19. The Pats stayed in 3rd was short lived. Back to #1. Brock and the Broncs dropped by the Raiders and the Bengals lose to the Steelers (Although I do wish Dalton didnt get hurt).

  20. Hoyer was NOT the problem last night.
    How many perfect throws did he make where his receivers either just dropped it or had the ball knoxked away by a Pats defender AFTER it waa already perfectly placed in their hands?
    I counted about 5, including one in the endzone…

  21. Yeah Brady has nobody to throw to. Amendola and LaFell don’t exist.

    The media narrative regarding the Pats is insane. They act like no other team gets hit with injuries or that no other QB has mediocre receivers to throw to.

  22. Notwithstanding the Brady sacks, the Patriots looked scary good last night. If your team is among the ~ 20 teams in the league with mediocre records or worse (like mine), it’s pretty stunning to watch a team where every player on the field is doing his job on just about every play, whether he’s a multi- Pro Bowler or a guy literally just signed off the street.

  23. Where are all the bandwagon patriot haters from last week?

    You know the ones proclaiming yet another demise of our DYNASTY team. I mean After all with 2 losses in a row, I can see where they thought we were declining.
    Well I don’t see much of them this morning…what the matter??/ Where are all of you??

    Afraid to man up and admit you were premature and that you were wrong???

    By the way anyone know how the NFL is doing in collecting the PSI data on the balls they are suppose to be testing each week? I doubt we will ever see that data…….

    We are on to Tenn.

  24. JJ watt…….you were neutralized….held in check…and could only generate a real late unsportsmanlike hit on Tom Brady.

    So much for having class.

  25. This defense is very quietly is becoming one of the best in the league and may certainly be the most underrated.

    Uh oh Patriot Hater! UH OH!!!!

    🙂 😀 🙂

  26. STILLlolatpatshaters says:
    Dec 14, 2015 9:43 AM

    This defense is very quietly is becoming one of the best in the league and may certainly be the most underrated.
    ——————————————-
    Not so sure about being underrated…they are one of the best. Last week was a special teams and offensive disaster when a team hangs 21pts? on you when your defense is on the sidelines. Just hope the injuries suffered last night are not severe. And this Johnson guy?! Who is he?! Why would anybody let him go?

  27. Not sure if anybody else caught it, but at the end of the game last night Al Michaels said the Pats will clinch the division if the Giants beat the Dolphins tonight due to strength of schedule. I haven’t seen this anywhere else. Can anybody confirm?

  28. Patriots are ridiculously efficient. Not flashy, but they do the basic things very, very well. 2 drives into the game, you just knew they were going to win, what felt like a borefest.

    Texans Fan.

  29. pats74 says:
    Dec 14, 2015 11:35 AM

    Not sure if anybody else caught it, but at the end of the game last night Al Michaels said the Pats will clinch the division if the Giants beat the Dolphins tonight due to strength of schedule.

    —–
    I didn’t catch the comment but if this is true then I think he meant the strength of victory tiebreaker not strength of schedule.

    The Jets have already beaten MIA twice so a MIA loss tonight would “hurt” the Jets more than the Patriots in that category and the Pats already have a big lead in SOV anyway.

  30. carloswlassiter says:
    Dec 13, 2015 11:34 PM

    Every time I’ve watched Hoyer I see him throwing lasers like Aron Rodgers that hit his receivers dead in stride 40 yards down the field, but unlike GB, Hoyer’s receivers never seem to be able to catch them.
    ——————————————————

    That’s because you’re not watching closely as those lasers are usually behind the receiver or too low or high to be caught.

  31. Patriots fans, you lost to Philadelphia – let’s not go prancing around holding the trophy up just yet.

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