Special teams mistakes haunt Texans in loss to Patriots

By Tyler Tyre, Times Sports Editor
Posted 10/10/21

“This one hurts a lot,” said running back David Johnson. “Especially with everything with the Patriots and that organization and the success they’ve had. It definitely does hurt.”

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Special teams mistakes haunt Texans in loss to Patriots


Two extra points, a missed field goal and a blocked punt.

It’s hard to win games when your special teams make those types of mistakes.

Those three mishaps were the difference between a win and a loss for the Texans on Sunday, as Houston fell 25-22 to the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium

“They kicked a field goal to win it, we missed two extra points and we missed a field goal,“ said Texans head coach David Culley. “You can’t have that,”

The Texans build up a big lead and had strong performances from the defense and offense most of the day, but a fourth quarter collapse by the offense and those mistakes on special teams led to a last second loss, the fourth straight for Houston.

Nick Folk kicked a game winning field goal with 15-seconds left, after the Patriots had run off seven minutes off clock on a 15-play 84-yard drive as the Patriots escaped with a win in a game they only led for those final 15 seconds.

“For us to go forward and be the team that we want to be, we have to start capitalizing in the fourth quarter,” said safety Justin Reid. “We have to start playing our best ball in the fourth quarter in order to finish opponents off and not let events like today happen.”

It was a great start for the Texans, who went on a 16-play, 79-yard drive to start the game. The team kept New England on its toes with a mix of misdirection and using lots of different personnel while largely running the ball. The touchdown however came off a pass, as Houston lined up in a power formation, ran play action and Davis Mills found Anthony Auclair in the back of the endzone for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

The Patriots had an answer, as they went on a 10 play, 60-yard drive to tie the game as Damien Harris ran in a 1-yard score. But the Texans weren’t done in the first half.

On the third play of the ensuing drive, Mills rolled out to his right and threw a prayer down the sideline towards Chris Moore, Moore leaped over Patriots cornerback JC Jackson, tiptoed the sideline and went 67-yards to give as the Texans regained the lead.

“The guy’s around me were just making plays,” Mills said. “It felt good going out there and scoring some touchdowns. I think we might have just left a little on the plate in the second half, but overall we’re close.”

Then, it was the Texans defense that made a play, after the Patriots drove the ball all the way to the Texans 5-yard line, Terrence Mitchell forced a fumble on Damien Harris just before the running back crossed the plain for a touchdown that Houston recovered. The Texans went on to make a field goal on their ensuing drive before New England made a field goal to close out the half, as Houston went into the locker room with a 15-9 lead.

The Patriots started with the ball in the second half but Lonnie Johnson got it right back for the Texans, diving to make an interception on the second play from scrimmage in the half and the Texans capitalized. The team ran a flea flicker and Mills found Chris Conley streaking down the sideline for another score.

The Texans defense continued to bend but not break, allowing two field goals to the Patriots in the third quarter.

Then, the collapse came. Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a 56-yard field goal on the next Texans drive to give New England a short field and the Patriots capitalized heading into a fourth quarter that was all New England.

Mac Jones found Hunter Henry on a 13-yard pass for a touchdown to tie the game. After the Texans were forced to punt, New England drove down the field and were aided by a roughing the passer penalty by Maliek Collins on a third down incompletion where the Patriots would have most likely been forced to punt. The drive continued and led to the game winning field goal.

“The defense was flying around and making plays on the ball,” Reid said. “We created some turnovers and fumbles and we have to continue to do that. At the end of the game we can’t let offenses bleed clock with the run game.”

The Texans know they let one slip away, and it won’t be one the team forgets about quickly.

“This one hurts a lot,” said running back David Johnson. “Especially with everything with the Patriots and that organization and the success they’ve had. It definitely does hurt.”

Mills developing

Mills had his best game in the NFL, as the rookie quarterback, completed 21-29 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns, without throwing an interception. Mills thoroughly outplayed first round pick Mac Jones, but the Texans did not do enough around him to come away with the victory.

“Davis played well, the thing that Davis did today was he protected the football,” Culley said. “We was very good in the pocket and ran our offense very well.”

Offensive line woes

Mills was sacked three times and the Texans may be without their best offensive lineman going forward, as Laremy Tunsil had to leave the game in the first half with a hand injury. Culley said they do not know how serious the injury is.

Practice Team to big game

Chris Moore was called up from the practice squad this week after the Texans cut Anthony Miller and declared Danny Amendola inactive and the wide receiver did not disappoint.

Moore caught 5 passes for 109 yards, both top marks for the Texans.

“I was just able to win my matchups and they called some great plays that gave me the opportunity to make some plays,” Moore said. “I’m mad I left some stuff on the field, I wish I could have done more but Davis Mills, he keeps getting better and I’m just excited to go out there and make some plays for him.”

Up Next

The Texans will take their four-game losing streak to Indianapolis to take on the Colts next Sunday at noon.  

Houston, Texans, New England Patriots, Davis Mills, NFL, sports, football