The Patriots held off the Houston Texans to open their season with a 27-20 win.
Quarterback Tom Brady completed 26 of his 39 pass attempts (67 percent) for 277 yards and three touchdowns. Eight players caught passes from Brady, who averaged 7.1 yards per reception. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson got off to a slower start, completing just five passes in the first half. Watson finished with 176 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski set the tone early with a 21-yard touchdown in the first quarter and finished with seven catches for 123 yards. Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett also had a productive game for the Patriots, catching seven passes on seven targets for 66 yards and a touchdown. Dorsett became the 69th NFL player to connect with Brady for a touchdown.
“Phillip did a great job with his opportunity today,” Brady said after the game.
Here’s the Patriots’ victory as it happened:
FINAL: Patriots 27, Texans 20.
Patriots 27, Texans 20 (0:05): Gronkowski is entering the game at defensive back. Watson’s Hail Mary pass falls short.
Patriots 27, Texans 20 (0:43): Patriots punt the ball 54 yards inside Houston’s one-yard line.
Patriots 27, Texans 20 (2:08): Watson hits wide receiver Bruce Ellington for a five-yard touchdown. Houston was able to capitalize on McCarron’s fumble with a two-and-a-half-minute drive, six-play drive that ended with a score. Watson was sacked once and completed one of his three pass attempts on the drive.
Patriots 27, Texans 13 (4:32): Houston goes three-and-out, but Patriots wide receiver Riley McCarron muffs the punt return, as the ball bounces off his face mask. Johnson Bademosi recovers the ball for the Texans at New England’s 16-yard line.
Patriots 27, Texans 13 (9:48): Gostkowski hits a 35-yard field goal.
Patriots 24, Texans 13 (10:10): Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson exits the field after getting hit in the head. Johnson had suffered a concussion during preseason. He was immediately escorted to the locker room.
Patriots 24, Texans 13 (1:52): Texans running back Alfred Blue runs in for a one-yard touchdown. Blue had four carries for 27 yards on the 10-play drive. Miller also rushed 12 yards on three carries, while Watson completed three passes for 34 yards.
Patriots 24, Texans 6 (6:02): Stephen Gostkowski’s 39-yard field goal is good.
Patriots 21, Texans 6 (9:52): At New England’s 17-yard line, Houston goes for it on 4th-and-5. Watson throws an incomplete pass intended for tight end Ryan Griffin.
Patriots 21, Texans 6 (10:45): Bill Belichick is challenging a 17-yard reception by Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The ruling on the field is a catch. Officials confirmed the catch, and the call stands.
Patriots 21, Texans 6 (12:09): Safety Kareem Jackson strips Gronkowski after a 29-yard reception. Mathieu recovers the fumble — Gronkowski’s first in six years — at Houston’s 45-yard line. Hill was down after the turnover after getting hit by Patriots fullback James Develin. Hill left the field and visited the blue medical tent.
First-half stats: Brady completed 16 of his 26 pass attempts for 154 yards and three touchdowns (Gronkowski, White, Dorsett). He also threw one interception (Mathieu). Watson completed five of his 13 pass attempts for 61 yards. Watson was under pressure for seven of his 13 attempts and sacked twice for a loss of 11 yards.
Patriots 21, Texans 6 (0:14): Brady and Dorsett connect for a four-yard touchdown. On a drive that lasted 74 seconds, Brady threw three of his four passes to Dorsett. The other pass went to Gronkowski, who made a 28-yard catch up the middle. Hill also rushed for 19 yards on two carries to kick off the drive.
Patriots 14, Texans 6 (5:30): Stephon Gilmore intercepts Watson in the end zone. The result of the play is a touchback.
Patriots 14, Texans 6 (9:01): Ka’imi Fairbairn hits a 36-yard field goal.
Patriots 14, Texans 3 (12:38): New England caps a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown reception from Brady to White. Brady completed five of his seven pass attempts on the drive. Phillip Dorsett, Jeremy Hill, Chris Hogan, Burkhead, and White all recorded receptions, while Burkhead and Cordarrelle Patterson rushed for a combined 15 yards. Brady also rushed for two yards on a fourth down at Houston’s 25-yard line.
First-quarter stats: Brady finishes with 7 completions to six receivers for 63 yards. Watson has one completion on six attempts. Burkhead leads Patriots running backs with 22 rushing yards on five carries, while Miller has 36 rushing yards on four carries for the Texans. Gronkowski leads Patriots pass catchers with his 21-yard TD.
Patriots 7, Texans 3 (2:33): Houston gets on the board with a 42-yard field goal.
Patriots 7, Texans 0 (4:02): Texans offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson is helped off the field and cannot put weight on his left foot. The team later announced Henderson is out with an ankle injury.
Patriots 7, Texans 0 (4:06): Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu intercepts Brady on a pass intended for White. Houston regains possession at New England’s 17-yard line.
Patriots 7, Texans 0 (4:22): Texans defensive end Christian Covington is down on the field. He visited the locker room and is questionable to return with a thigh injury.
Patriots 7, Texans 0 (11:50): Quarterback Tom Brady connects with tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 21-yard touchdown reception.
Patriots 0, Texans 0 (12:58): At Houston’s 19-yard line, linebacker Dont’a Hightower recovers a fumble off a failed handoff from Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson intended for running back Lamar Miller.
Patriots 0, Texans 0 (13:30): The Patriots go three-and-out on their opening drive of the game. New England ran three rushing plays (one carry by running back Rex Burkhead and two by White).
The Patriots will receive the ball to start the game: The Texans won the coin toss and opted to defer. Running back James White, center David Andrews, safety Devin McCourty, and wide receiver Matthew Slater were out for the toss.
Celtics point guard Terry Rozier is at Gillette Stadium: Swapping out his Drew Bledsoe jersey for a Tom Brady one, Rozier opened the locker room door for the Patriots and pumped up the home crowd.
Tom Brady is wearing his new helmet, the Riddell Precision Fit SpeedFlex: Brady is one of several NFL players who have to change their helmets by the start of the 2019-20 season after 10 styles were banned by the league for performing poorly in laboratory research testing for impact severity. Players may continue to wear the banned styles during the upcoming season, but Brady has already swapped out his Riddell VSR-4 and begun experimenting with an approved model.
Seven Patriots are inactive for Sunday’s game: Tight end Jacob Hollister (hamstring), offensive lineman Brian Schwenke, wide receiver Chad Hansen, defensive end Derek Rivers, cornerback Keion Crossen, running back Sony Michel (knee), and cornerback J.C. Jackson will not see the field against the Texans.
Defensive end Keionta Davis will make his NFL debut, getting the nod over Rivers, who was a healthy scratch. Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, the only rookie active for the Patriots, and wide receiver Riley McCarron will also make their NFL debuts.
Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and safety Nate Ebner are both active, after initially being listed as questionable. Neither player took any snaps during the preseason.
The following Texans will also be inactive: wide receiver Will Fuller, wide receiver Keke Coutee, cornerback Kayvon Webster, linebacker Duke Ejidfor, offensive lineman Kendall Lawn, defensive end Carlos Watkins, and defensive end Joel Heath.
Patriots rookie running back Sony Michel is not expected to play, according to multiple reports: Michel is still recovering from a minor procedure that drained fluid from his knee. The 23-year-old missed the majority of the preseason, but he returned to practice on Aug. 27. Michel was limited in practice this week.
The NFL is reportedly not expected to implement its new anthem policy this season: ESPN reports the league’s new policy surrounding the national anthem is going to be no policy.
Texans wide receiver Will Fuller is not expected to play, according to multiple reports: Fuller, who has been battling a hamstring injury, was limited in practice this week. He caught 28 passes for 423 yards last season.