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Takeaways from Game 3

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not watch Sunday’s Patriots-Texans game live.  After a week of rain and wind, an 80 plus degree day in late September was too precious to spend sitting inside watching TV.  But in the interest of my prestigious position as Patriots columnist for BostonSportsonTap.com, I did record the game for later viewing, and I also checked in on the radio broadcast whenever I could.  

The play of the Patriots did not sound pretty on the radio, thus I was not looking forward to watching the game beyond the fourth quarter comeback.  But in re-watching the game, I found there were a number of positives to go with the obvious negatives.  So with the advantage of a new perspective, here are my takeaways from Game 3.

Defense

Still a work in progress.  The Patriots continue to get burned by big plays in the passing game.  Houston struck for passing plays of 29, 35, 34, 31 and 21 yards.  Overall the Patriots allowed another 300 yard passing game, their third of the season, and rank 32nd in the NFL in total yards allowed, passing yards allowed, and points allowed. 

Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson kept the Patriots defense off-balance, scrambling and mixing in a number of key runs to pick up first downs and sustain drives.  If it were not for a few rookie mistakes, including one monumental blunder of clock management at the end of the game, the outcome may have been different.  Two more mobile quarterbacks loom in the next two weeks in Cam Newton and Jameis Winston.  The Patriots need Dont'a Hightower to return to provide a stabilizing force in the middle.

Offense

Not to be outdone by the Texans young QB, the ageless Tom Brady threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns, including TD passes of 47, 42 and 25 yards.  Brady completed passes to seven different receivers, with five catching three or more passes.  And for good measure, Brady engineered his 50th career fourth quarter comeback.

Brandin Cooks is quickly emerging as the deep ball threat the Patriots have been lacking since the departure of Randy Moss, hooking up with Brady on 5 passes, 131 yards, and two touchdowns, including the game winner and all important two-point conversion.

A continuing concern for the offense is the inability to sustain drives in the fourth quarter.  The Patriots were forced to punt on two consecutive drives after falling behind in the fourth, allowing the Texans to extend their lead.  Credit must be given to the defense for only allowing a field goal on the Texans’ final drive before which kept the deficit within a touchdown at 33-28.  However, with glaring holes in the defense, the offense needs to sustain drives and keep the defense on the sideline.
  
Look ahead

The Patriots host Carolina in Foxborough on Sunday before heading out on the road for the next two games.  After the Carolina game, the Patriots have a quick turn-around trip to Tampa on the following Thursday.  Mobile quarterbacks, unfamiliar opponents and a short week will be a tough test for a Patriot team that still appears to be figuring things out on the fly.


Follow Bill on Twitter @BTravers_BSoT. 


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