Patriots trounce Texans 27-0 at Gillette
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. >> Another week, another new quarterback, another win for the New England Patriots.
Jacoby Brissett had a 27-yard touchdown run in his first NFL start at quarterback, LeGarrette Blount added scoring runs of 1 and 41 yards , and the Patriots beat the Houston Texans 27-0 on Thursday night.
It was the Patriots' first shutout win since 2012. It was the first time the Texans have been shutout since a 27-0 loss at Jacksonville in 2003.
Brissett started in place of Jimmy Garoppolo, who was inactive because of an injured right shoulder. It was the first time since Drew Bledsoe in 1993 that New England had started a rookie quarterback.
The Texans (2-1) entered the game with the NFL's third-ranked defense and nine sacks through two games, but they struggled to put pressure on the 23-year-old quarterback.
Brissett was steady throughout, moving the chains on offense with a diet of short passes and scrambles. The Patriots (3-0) also mixed in lots of pre-snap motion and shifts that helped create both throwing and running lanes for Brissett. He finished the night 11 of 19 for 103 yards, and ran eight times for 48 yards.
Houston didn't help itself on special teams either, turning the ball over twice on fumbled kickoff returns. Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler was 24 for 41 for 196 yards and was sacked twice. He also had a promising drive in the second quarter thwarted by Jamie Collins' interception . The Texans had a chance to get on the board just before halftime, but that drive stalled at midfield.
Lamar Miller rushed 22 times for 84 yards.
BLOUNT FORCE: Blount ran 24 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns, including the 41-yarder in the fourth quarter to give New England a 27-0 lead. It's the third time in his career he has had back-to-back 100-yard games, and the first time since 2011. Blount also had a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter.
GRONK RETURNS: Tight end Rob Gronkowski made his season debut after sitting out the first two weeks with a hamstring injury he sustained during training camp. Gronk was used sparingly and mainly as a blocker, appearing in just 14 snaps, and three in the second half.
RUNNING QBS: Brissett's 27-yard touchdown run was the longest for a Patriots quarterback since Steve Grogan went 41 yards for a score in 1976. The longest run of Tom Brady's career is 22 yards.
CHALLENGE: The Patriots' first touchdown was set up by a successful coach's challenge by Bill Belichick. After Stephen Gostkowski's 24-yard field goal put New England up 3-0, Houston's Charles James fielded the ensuing kickoff from just inside the end zone. James ran it out, and was tripped up at the 17. But the ball squirted out on a hit by Brandon Bolden. Duron Harmon recovered for the Patriots, but James ruled down on the field. Belichick challenged, and the call was reversed.
STREAK ENDS: The Texans entered Thursday having not allowed touchdown in six consecutive quarters. That streak ended in the first quarter with Brissett's 27-yard touchdown run.
INJURIES: Houston tight end Stephen Anderson left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.
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