Nov 22, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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Texans ride Watson’s sharp first half past Patriots

Deshaun Watson passed for 344 yards and totaled three touchdowns while the Houston Texans’ beleaguered run defense held firm in a 27-20 victory over the visiting New England Patriots on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

The Texans (3-7) amassed 399 yards and averaged 7.1 yards per play. Ka’imi Fairbairn booted field goals of 36 and 46 yards in the second half to help keep the Patriots (4-6) at bay.

New England (4-6) twice rallied to within four points in the second half but could not secure the lead. The Patriots had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Cam Newton passed for 365 yards including a 42-yard touchdown to Damiere Byrd in the third quarter, his first touchdown toss to a Patriots wide receiver this season, but was sacked twice and had four passes batted by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

The Patriots, the least penalized team in the NFL, recorded a season-high seven penalties for 55 yards.

Byrd finished with six catches for a career-best 132 yards. The Patriots’ third-ranked rushing offense finished with just 86 yards on 24 carries for an average of 3.6 yards per attempt.

Watson showcased exceptional precision prior to the intermission, completing 18 of 23 attempts for 241 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. His completion and yardage totals represented first-half career highs, and Watson added a bruising 4-yard touchdown run that gave the Texans a 14-10 lead with 3:54 before the break. For Watson, it marked his first rushing touchdown since Week 1.

Watson pulled the Texans even at 7-7 with his 3-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb at the 3:42 mark of the first quarter. Houston lost Cobb to a foot injury on the play but the offense kept rolling with contributions from the tight ends. By the close of the half, Jordan Akins, Darren Fells and Pharaoh Brown — all tight ends — combined for seven receptions and 124 yards to offset the loss of Cobb.

The Texans extended to a 21-10 lead with 10 seconds left in the second quarter when Watson found Keke Coutee on a 6-yard scoring pass, the second for Coutee in his career.

The Patriots, after amassing 84 yards and posting just their second first-quarter offensive touchdown on their opening drive, totaled 66 yards for the remainder of the half. Damien Harris capped the initial possession with a 9-yard touchdown run.

Nick Folk added a 45-yard field goal in the second quarter, but Houston led 21-10 at the half.

Byrd’s touchdown brought New England to within 21-17 in the third, and Folk added a 36-yard field goal to make it 24-20 in the fourth, but both times Fairbairn responded for the Texans.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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