In a back-and-forth battle that saw some flashes of brilliance from Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, it was Tom Brady who had the final say.
The Patriots scored the go-ahead touchdown with 23 seconds left, and defeated Houston, 36-33, at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. It was the eighth time in his regular-season career that Brady threw a game-winning touchdown in the final minute.
Brady threw for five touchdowns — two to Cooks, two to Chris Hogan, and one to Rob Gronkowski — and 378 yards. It was the sixth time Brady threw for five or more touchdown in a regular season game, and the first time he reached that mark since 2014.
“We just kept fighting,” said Brady, who was sacked five times. “That’s the most important thing.”
The Patriots finished with 396 total yards — to the Texans’ 417 — and Brady recorded a 146.2 passer rating.
“Tough guy to defend,” Houston coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s done it for a long time.”
There were eight lead changes in the contest, which had the Texans held on would’ve been their first win in Gillette Stadium. But Houston struggled in the red zone, going one for three inside the 20.
“‘It’s on me,” O’Brien said. “We’ve got to score touchdowns in the red area.”
Watson, in his second start, finished 22 of 32 for 301 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 106.4 rating.
“I thought Deshaun played his heart out,” O’Brien said. “He’s an exciting player. He never says die.”
Watch: Ben Volin and Jim McBride break down the Patriots’ win
Updates as they were posted during the game are below.
4th quarter: Patriots 36, Texans 33
Tom Brady keyed a go-ahead drive for New England, leading the Patriots on an eight-play, 75-yard march that was finished off with a 25-yard catch by Brandin Cooks, his second touchdown of the day. It was Brady’s fifth touchdown pass of the contest. New England went for two, and Brady found Cooks for the successful conversion.
4th quarter: Texans 33, Patriots 28
Ka’imi Fairbairn’s fourth field goal of the contest, a 36-yarder, gave Houston a five-point lead. The Texans went 49 yards in seven plays, taking 3:31 off the clock.
4th quarter: Texans 30, Patriots 28
Ka’imi Fairbairn is now 3 for 3 on his field goals today. His 31-yarder early in the fourth gave the Texans a two-point.
It capped off a 12-play, 67-yard drive by Houston, which included a 34-yard catch-and-run by the rookie D’Onta Foreman.
3rd quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 27
Houston marched 70 yards in 10 plays to pull back within a point of New England.
Deshaun Watson finished the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ryan Griffin. It was Watson’s second touchdown pass of the game.
Earlier in the drive, Watson found Griffin after the play broke down, slinging the ball across the field for a 35-yard gain on second-and-22.
Stephon Gilmore goes to the locker room, then returns
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who had an interception in the first half, went to the locker room in the third quarter and was replaced by Jonathan Jones. He returned to the sideline, and was questionable to return because of dehydration. He returned to the field late in the third quarter.
3rd quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 20
Brandin Cooks has scored his first touchdown as a Patriot.
The 42-yard strike from Tom Brady gave New England an eight-point lead.
Brady was 5 for 5 for 81 yards on the five-play, 81-yard drive that opened the second half.
Brady now has 27 career games with four or more touchdown passes, third-most all-time.
TE Hollister takes a big hit, goes into medical tent
Patriots rookie tight end Jacob Hollister reeled in a Tom Brady pass for 19 yards before absorbing a blow from Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Hollister was helped off the field and then went into the medical tent on the sideline. He then made his way to rejoin his fellow tight ends on the sideline.
Halftime: Patriots 21, Texans 20
The Patriots will get the ball to start the second half. Some halftime team stats:
Total yards: New England 180, Houston 172
Passing yards: New England 141, Houston 121
Rushing yards: New England 39, Houston 51
First downs: New England 11, Houston 11
Total plays: New England 32, Houston 31
Turnovers: New England 1, Houston 1
Penalties: New England 2 for 49 yards, Houston 7 for 40 yards
Third down: New England is 3 of 7, Houston is 2 of 7
Some halftime individual stats:
Tom Brady is 10 of 17 for 162 yards and three touchdowns with a 130.4 rating. Deshaun Watson is 12 of 16 for 123 yards, a touchdown, and an interception with a 91.4 rating.
Chris Hogan has four catches on six targets for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski has three catches on four targets for 30 yards and a touchdown.
DeAndre Hopkins has four catches on five targets for 38 yards. Bruce Ellington has two catches on two targets for 34 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots have combined for two quarterback hits and Trey Flowers recorded a first-half sack.
The Texans have hit Brady four times, including a sack by Whitney Mercilus and two by Jadeveon Clowney.
Patriots with 180 yards on 5.6 yards per play. Have called 11 runs against 22 passes. Don't think they have much faith in run blocking today— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 24, 2017
2nd quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 20
After turning the ball over, New England drove 75 yards in six plays to take a one-point lead late in the second. Tom Brady threw his third touchdown pass of the first half, finding Chris Hogan for a 47-yard score. It was Hogan’s second touchdown of the game and his third of the season.
Brady’s three touchdown passes in the first half come a week after he rolled up three in the first quarter against the Saints.
2nd quarter: Texans 20, Patriots 14
Houston linebacker Whitney Mercilus hit Tom Brady from behind, knocking the ball loose. Fellow linebacker Jadeveon Clowney came up with it and returned it 22 yards for the touchdown.
2nd quarter: Patriots 14, Texans 13
Houston used a 10-play, 55-yard drive to pull within one point of New England. Ka’imi Fairbairn made a 40-yarder, his second attempt and make of the game.
2nd quarter: Patriots 14, Texans 10
The Patriots took the lead again after a Stephon Gilmore interception and 39-yard return set them up on the Texans’ 12-yard line.
Tom Brady hit Chris Hogan for a 7-yard score.
1st quarter: Texans 10, Patriots 7
Houston took its first lead of the game on a 29-yard dart from rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to receiver Bruce Ellington. It was a two-play, 44-yard drive by the Texans.
1st quarter: Patriots 7, Texans 3
The Texans answered with a six-play, 57-yard drive that resulted in a 39-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn.
1st quarter: Patriots 7, Texans 0
On their first drive, the Patriots went 51 yards in seven plays to get on the board first.
They capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski.
The big play of the drive was a 44-yard bomb from Brady to Brandin Cooks.
The Patriots won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.
The national anthem at Gillette
Some Patriots players took a knee during the performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” while other linked arms. Tom Brady was among those who linked arms with teammates. Texans players linked arms along their sideline.
And a few photos from pregame:
For the Patriots: linebacker Dont’a Hightower, tackle Marcus Cannon, cornerback Eric Rowe, linebacker Harvey Langi, offensive lineman Cole Croston, special teams ace Matthew Slater, running back Rex Burkhead.
For the Texans: receiver Will Fuller, receiver Andy Jones, running back Alfred Blue, cornerback Kevin Johnson, tackle Jah Reid, guard Jeff Allen, and defensive end Carlos Watkins.
Welcome to gameday
On what will be a closely watched day in the NFL, Houston will try to notch its first win at Gillette Stadium. The Texans and Patriots are both 1-1 after rebounding from Week 1 losses.
We’ll have updates here throughout the day. Our format for updates is different than just a stream of tweets as we continue with a new approach that we think will better tell the overall story of gameday.
For some pregame reading, here is a look at Deshaun Watson and other Texans storylines entering Sunday’s game. And here is Jim McBride’s thorough scouting report, which includes players to watch and keys to victory for both teams.
Kickoff: Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV, radio: CBS, WBZ-FM (98.5)
Protests and the NFL
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s pointed and repeated criticism of the NFL and its players, not only did a deluge of players respond on social media, but also several teams released statements ahead of Sunday’s slate of games.
■ Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he is “deeply disappointed by the tone” of Trump’s comments.
■ Tom Brady shared a post on Instagram that conveyed the message of unity.
■ Nate Solder said “stand or kneel,” the Patriots won’t be divided.
■ Jaguars owner Shad Khan locked arms with his players before their game against the Ravens in London.
■ Some Dolphins players wore T-shirts during warmups that read #ImWithKaep on the front.
■ The Steelers will remain in their locker room during the national anthem.
We will update this section throughout the day.