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Ben Volin

This rally ranks near the top of Tom Brady’s greatest comebacks

Patriots march down the field to beat Texans
Deshaun Watson pulled rabbit after rabbit out of his hat, frustrating the Patriots with one magical play after another as the Texans quarterback appeared poised to pull out a victory at Gillette Stadium.

FOXBOROUGH — Instant Analysis from the Patriots’ 36-33 win over the Texans.

■ This comeback rivals the Saints and Browns games in 2013 for incredible comebacks by Tom Brady. The Patriots were stuck in neutral on offense, unable to convert anything, facing a third-and-17 in the final minute, and Brady pulled it out of his behind. Another chapter in the incredible career of the GOAT. Amazing.

■ Hello, Brandin Cooks. He’s not going to be a high-volume receiver in this offense like Julian Edelman, but he showed his big play ability with five catches for 131 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

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The rest of our analysis was written before the comeback. While this was a great win, let’s not forget that this was an uninspiring performance before Brady’s last-second magic.

■ Don’t let Tom Brady’s stats fool you – 378 yards and five touchdowns. The Patriots couldn’t run the ball (59 yards on 20 carries) and couldn’t block anybody up front, allowing five sacks, six QB hits and two sack-strips, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Jadeveon Clowney. Nate Solder was a turnstile again, and the Patriots’ inability to pick up two key third-and-1 plays in the fourth quarter was an exercise in futility.

■ The defense was worse, though. They let Deshaun Watson slip through their grasp all game, allowing the electric rookie quarterback to throw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, pick up 41 yards on the ground, and make several big plays outside the pocket. The Patriots let the Texans march down the field three times in the second half, and couldn’t come up with a big stop when they needed it.

■ Give Watson credit, though. Making only his third NFL start, he was surprisingly poised in the pocket and made some big plays by keeping his eyes downfield. It may have taken the Texans 16 years, but it looks like they have finally found their franchise quarterback. Watson is going to be a good one.

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Watch: Ben Volin and Jim McBride break down the Patriots’ win

■ Stephon Gilmore giveth, and Stephon Gilmore taketh away. The new Patriots cornerback had his first interception of the season, but also committed two penalties for 49 yards in the first half. Malcolm Butler played much better this game, and Watson didn’t look his way much.

■ This was a day when the Patriots felt the absence Edelman. They couldn’t convert key third downs, or move the ball when they needed to in the fourth quarter. A decent chunk of their offense came on breakdowns by the Texans when they forgot to cover Chris Hogan. The Patriots were only 4 of 11 on third down, and averaged just 5.9 yards per play, down from 7.6 against the Saints. When the Patriots needed to move the ball, they twice went three-and-out in the fourth quarter.

■ Credit the Texans linebackers for taking James White and Dion Lewis out of the passing game, after they torched the Texans in the playoffs last January. Lewis had three catches for 12 yards, while White had one catch for 11 yards.


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.