Brissett and Blount lead Patriots past Houston
By Kyle Hightower, AP
September 24, 2016, 12:22 am TWN
FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts -- New England's third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett had a touchdown run in his first NFL start as the Patriots cruised past Houston 27-0 on Thursday.
LeGarrette Blount added scoring runs of 1 and 41 yards as the Patriots recorded their first shutout win since 2012 while the Texans were blanked for the first time since 2003.
New England's star quarterback Tom Brady is serving a four-game suspension for his role in the "Deflategate" ball-tampering scandal, and his backup Jimmy Garoppolo was unavailable after injuring his right shoulder last week, so the Patriots had to turn to Brissett; their first rookie quarterback to start a game since Drew Bledsoe in 1993.
The Texans 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 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, including the touchdown.
"It was crazy, it was awesome," Brissett said of reaching the end zone. "Definitely great to see all the players just run up to you. I got a headache from all the head bobbing and head bumping. But it was definitely worth it."
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.
"I was just running until I got stopped," Brissett said. "It worked out how we planned it was going to work out. The guys up front did a great job."
Houston didn't help itself on special teams either, turning the ball over twice on fumbled kickoff returns. Texans 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.
"I felt like we had a great week of preparation, very focused. The game plan was solid and we worked hard. So this is hard to take," Osweiler said. "New England had a great game plan. They deserve all the credit. But we'll bounce back from this one."
Lamar Miller rushed 22 times for 84 yards.