Drive Chart
HOU
NE

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Brady, Gronk open season with 27-20 win over Texans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski sent New England fans into a panic this offseason when they hinted at retiring rather than returning to the Patriots in 2018.

On Sunday, it was the rest of the NFL watching in fear.

Brady threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns, hitting Gronkowski for 123 yards and a score to lead the defending AFC champions to a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans. The reigning NFL MVP found Gronkowski seven times, including a 21-yard touchdown three plays after Deshaun Watson fumbled a handoff at the Texans 19 on Houston's first offensive play .

''It's very important that they came out and played the way they did. They're our leaders,'' said Phillip Dorsett, who had seven catches, including a touchdown. ''When they play well, they give an adrenaline boost to the rest of the team.''

Brady, 41, clashed with the team he's led to five Super Bowl titles in the past year over the treatment of his personal fitness guru and the plans to elevate backup Jimmy Garoppolo to starter. In February, after throwing for 500 yards in a Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Brady was coy about returning this season.

The Patriots dangled Gronkowski as trade bait this summer before agreeing instead to sweeten his contract with $4.3 million in reachable incentives. Gronkowski reportedly threatened to retire if traded.

''I'm just glad to be here, glad to be part of this team, glad to be part of this organization,'' he said. ''All that talk, all that stuff, I would love to put it in the past.''

Brady also found James White for a touchdown, completing 26 of 39 passes in all; he also had an interception on a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. It was Gronkowski's 31st career regular-season or playoff game of 100 yards or more, tying Tony Gonzalez's NFL record.

''We've been playing together for a long time,'' Brady said. ''I know his body language. I know his ability to run and what routes. He can do it. He can do really all the routes. It's just a matter of giving him a chance, and it came with a big touchdown today.''

Watson, who missed the final nine games last season with a torn right ACL, completed 17 of 35 passes for 176 yards, one score and one interception. He struggled to move the team in the first 40 minutes, managing just a pair of field-goal drives before Alfred Blue ran it in from 1 yard to make it 24-13 in the last two minutes of the third period.

A muffed punt by New England's Riley McCarron with under five minutes left set up Watson's 5-yard TD pass to Bruce Ellington and cut the deficit to 27-20. But after getting the ball back at their 1 with 43 seconds left, the Texans failed to reach midfield.

''I think it was terrible, on my part,'' Watson said. ''I just feel like you can put the `L' on me.''

With Julian Edelman serving a four-game suspension, Dorsett caught seven passes for 66 yards, including a 4-yard TD pass in the closing seconds of the first half to make it 21-6. White had four receptions for 38 yards, including a 12-yard score.

Lamar Miller ran 20 times for 98 yards for Houston, which welcomed Watson, defensive lineman J.J. Watt and linebacker Whitney Mercilus back from injuries. Watt had two quarterback hurries, but D.J. Reader had the only two sacks of Brady, both late.

''It's good to play a full game to know it lasts, to know it holds up,'' said Watt, a three-time defensive player of the year. ''I didn't think about it once. So, that's all you can ask for.''

It was Watson who felt the pressure the rest of the game.

The second-year quarterback, who threw for 301 yards in a 36-33 loss to New England last year in his second NFL start, botched a handoff with Miller in the first quarter, setting up the Patriots up for their first touchdown. In the second quarter, Watson inexplicably chucked the ball into the end zone for a double-covered Vyncint Smith on a second-and-3 from the New England 42.

Stephon Gilmore brought it down for the interception.

BALL CONTROL

The Patriots also had trouble with turnovers.

Brady had an interception in the first quarter on a throw tipped by defensive lineman Angelo Blackson and brought in by Tyrann Mathieu at the Patriots 17. The Texans went backward 7 yards before Ka'imi Fairbairn's 42-yard field goal made it 7-3.

Gronkowski also fumbled in the third quarter after a 25-yard reception across the middle. Mathieu recovered, but after advancing to the New England 17, the Texans gave the ball back on downs. The muffed punt by McCarron gave the Texans one last chance.

INJURIES

Texans: DE Christian Covington injured his thigh in the first quarter. T Seantrel Henderson left after getting his left ankle rolled a few plays later. Kevin Johnson left with what the team said was a concussion and did not return.

Patriots: RB Jeremy Hill left with a right knee injury on the Gronkowski fumble in the third quarter.

LATE SERIES

After the Texans forced New England to punt in the final minute, Ryan Allen landed the ball inside the 5-yard line and Jonathan Jones downed it at the 1. Houston advanced to the 16 on a penalty for leading with the helmet and Watson found DeAndre Hopkins for 14 yards before scrambling for 13 more.

From his 43 with 5 seconds left, Watson chucked the ball as far as the 10 but it was knocked away.

UP NEXT

Texans: visit Tennessee Sunday for an early AFC South showdown.

Patriots: visit Jacksonville Sunday in a rematch of the Jan. 21 AFC championship game New England won 24-20 to reach the Super Bowl for the third time in four years.

---

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Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
D. Watson 4 QB
176 PaYds, PaTD, INT, 40 RuYds
13
FPTS
T. Brady 12 QB
277 PaYds, 3 PaTDs, INT, 2 RuYds
27
FPTS
Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 2:08
K.Fairbairn extra point is GOOD Center-J.Weeks Holder-T.Daniel.
plays
yds
pos
20
27
Touchdown 2:12
D.Watson pass short middle to B.Ellington for 5 yards TOUCHDOWN.
6
plays
16
yds
2:24
pos
19
27
Field Goal 10:21
S.Gostkowski 35 yard field goal is GOOD Center-J.Cardona Holder-R.Allen.
13
plays
58
yds
7:04
pos
13
27
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 1:52
K.Fairbairn extra point is GOOD Center-J.Weeks Holder-T.Daniel.
plays
yds
pos
13
24
Touchdown 1:54
A.Blue right end for 1 yard TOUCHDOWN.
10
plays
68
yds
4:10
pos
12
24
Field Goal 6:08
S.Gostkowski 39 yard field goal is GOOD Center-J.Cardona Holder-R.Allen.
10
plays
63
yds
3:50
pos
6
24
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 0:14
S.Gostkowski extra point is GOOD Center-J.Cardona Holder-R.Allen.
plays
yds
pos
6
21
Touchdown 0:19
T.Brady pass short left to P.Dorsett for 4 yards TOUCHDOWN.
8
plays
78
yds
1:14
pos
6
20
Field Goal 9:08
K.Fairbairn 36 yard field goal is GOOD Center-J.Weeks Holder-T.Daniel.
9
plays
44
yds
3:37
pos
6
14
Point After TD 12:38
S.Gostkowski extra point is GOOD Center-J.Cardona Holder-R.Allen.
plays
yds
pos
3
14
Touchdown 12:45
T.Brady pass short right to J.White for 12 yards TOUCHDOWN.
10
plays
75
yds
4:55
pos
3
13
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Field Goal 3:24
K.Fairbairn 42 yard field goal is GOOD Center-J.Weeks Holder-T.Daniel.
4
plays
-7
yds
1:33
pos
3
7
Point After TD 11:50
S.Gostkowski extra point is GOOD Center-J.Cardona Holder-R.Allen.
plays
yds
pos
0
7
Touchdown 11:58
T.Brady pass deep left to R.Gronkowski for 21 yards TOUCHDOWN. 76th career Brady-Gronkowski TD connection 5th all-time (2nd all-time QB-TE).
3
plays
19
yds
1:08
pos
0
6
Team Stats
Time of Pos 28:50 31:10
1st Downs 21 23
Rushing 10 5
Passing 8 16
Penalty 3 2
3rd Down Conv 2-11 4-14
4th Down Conv 0-1 1-1
Total Net Yards 325 389
Total Plays 72 72
Avg Gain 4.5 5.4
Net Yards Rushing 167 122
Rush Attempts 34 31
Avg Rush Yards 4.9 3.9
Net Yards Passing 158 267
Comp. - Att. 17-35 26-39
Yards Per Pass 4.5 6.8
Sacked - Yards Lost 3-18 2-10
Penalties - Yards 6-44 6-36
Touchdowns 2 3
Rushing TDs 1 0
Passing TDs 1 3
Other 0 0
Turnovers 2 3
Fumbles - Lost 1-1 3-2
Int. Thrown 1 1
Punts - Avg 6-38.3 6-43.5
Return Yards 176 19
Punts - Returns 2-20 1-0
Kickoffs - Returns 5-156 1-19
Int. - Returns 1-0 1-0
Kicking 4/4 5/5
Extra Points 2/2 3/3
Field Goals 2/2 2/2
Red Zone Eff. 2-5 -40% 3-4 -75%
Goal to Go Eff. 2-2 -100% 1-1 -100%
Safeties 0 0
1234T
Texans 0-1 337720
Patriots 1-0 7143327
158 PASS YDS 267
167 RUSH YDS 122
325 TOTAL YDS 389
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT FPTS
D. Watson 4 QB
13
FPTS
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
48.6% 176 1 1 61.1
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
49.3% 352 2 2 62.0
D. Watson 17/35 176 1 1 13
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG FPTS
L. Miller 26 RB
10
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
20 98 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
40 196 0
L. Miller 20 98 0 31 10
D. Watson 4 QB
13
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
8 40 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
16 80 0
D. Watson 8 40 0 13 13
A. Blue 28 RB
9
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 36 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
10 72 2
A. Blue 5 36 1 17 9
D. Hopkins 10 WR
7
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 -7 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
2 -14 0
D. Hopkins 1 -7 0 -7 7
Receiving TAR REC YDS TD LG FPTS
D. Hopkins 10 WR
7
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
12 8 78 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 16 156 0
D. Hopkins 12 8 78 0 17 7
B. Ellington 12 WR
9
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
8 4 37 1
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 8 74 2
B. Ellington 8 4 37 1 14 9
J. Thomas 83 TE
2
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 1 27 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 2 54 0
J. Thomas 2 1 27 0 27 2
T. Ervin 21 RB
1
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 12 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 2 24 0
T. Ervin 1 1 12 0 12 1
L. Miller 26 RB
10
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 1 11 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 2 22 0
L. Miller 2 1 11 0 11 10
J. Akins 88 TE
1
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 2 11 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 4 22 0
J. Akins 2 2 11 0 8 1
S. Coates 18 WR
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 0 0 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 0 0 0
S. Coates 1 0 0 0 0 0
R. Griffin 84 TE
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
5 0 0 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 0 0 0
R. Griffin 5 0 0 0 0 0
V. Smith 17 WR
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 0 0 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 0 0 0
V. Smith 2 0 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT FF
K. Jackson 25 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
16-0 0 0.0
K. Jackson 8-0 0.0 0 2
B. McKinney 55 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
10-2 0 0.0
B. McKinney 5-1 0.0 0 0
J. Joseph 24 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
10-4 0 0.0
J. Joseph 5-2 0.0 0 0
D. Cole 51 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
10-0 0 0.0
D. Cole 5-0 0.0 0 0
D. Reader 98 NT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 2.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-0 0 4.0
D. Reader 3-0 2.0 0 0
T. Mathieu 32 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-2 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-4 2 0.0
T. Mathieu 3-2 0.0 1 0
Z. Cunningham 41 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-5 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-10 0 0.0
Z. Cunningham 3-5 0.0 0 0
B. Dunn 92 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-2 0 0.0
B. Dunn 3-1 0.0 0 0
A. Colvin 22 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-4 0 0.0
A. Colvin 2-2 0.0 0 0
J. Watt 99 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-2 0 0.0
J. Watt 2-1 0.0 0 0
A. Blackson 97 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-2 0 0.0
A. Blackson 2-1 0.0 0 0
J. Clowney 90 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.0
J. Clowney 1-1 0.0 0 0
K. Johnson 30 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-6 0 0.0
K. Johnson 1-3 0.0 0 0
J. Reid 20 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
J. Reid 1-0 0.0 0 0
C. Covington 95 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-2 0 0.0
C. Covington 0-1 0.0 0 0
W. Mercilus 59 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-4 0 0.0
W. Mercilus 0-2 0.0 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
K. Fairbairn 7 K
8
FPTS
IN-GAME FG XP
2/2 2/2
SEASON FG XP
4/4 4/4
K. Fairbairn 2/2 42 2/2 8
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
T. Daniel 8 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
6 38.3 3
SEASON NO AVG IN20
12 38.3 6
T. Daniel 6 38.3 3 48
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
T. Ervin 21 RB
1
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
5 31.2 36 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
10 31.2 36 0
T. Ervin 5 31.2 36 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
T. Ervin 21 RB
1
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 10.0 11 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
4 10.0 11 0
T. Ervin 2 10.0 11 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT FPTS
T. Brady 12 QB
27
FPTS
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
66.7% 277 3 1 102.2
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
66.7% 554 6 2 102.2
T. Brady 26/39 277 3 1 27
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG FPTS
R. Burkhead 34 RB
6
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
18 64 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
36 128 0
R. Burkhead 18 64 0 12 6
J. White 28 RB
10
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 18 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
10 36 0
J. White 5 18 0 11 10
C. Patterson 84 WR
1
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
3 13 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
6 26 0
C. Patterson 3 13 0 10 1
T. Brady 12 QB
27
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 2 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
2 4 0
T. Brady 1 2 0 2 27
Receiving TAR REC YDS TD LG FPTS
R. Gronkowski 87 TE
16
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
8 7 123 1
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 14 246 2
R. Gronkowski 8 7 123 1 30 16
P. Dorsett 13 WR
12
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
7 7 66 1
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 14 132 2
P. Dorsett 7 7 66 1 14 12
J. White 28 RB
10
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
9 4 38 1
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 8 76 2
J. White 9 4 38 1 12 10
J. Develin 46 FB
2
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
4 4 22 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 8 44 0
J. Develin 4 4 22 0 10 2
C. Hogan 15 WR
1
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
5 1 11 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 2 22 0
C. Hogan 5 1 11 0 11 1
C. Patterson 84 WR
1
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 6 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 2 12 0
C. Patterson 1 1 6 0 6 1
R. Burkhead 34 RB
6
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
3 1 5 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 2 10 0
R. Burkhead 3 1 5 0 5 6
Defense T-A SACK INT FF
S. Gilmore 24 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
7-1 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
14-2 2 0.0
S. Gilmore 7-1 0.0 1 0
J. Bentley 51 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-6 0 0.0
J. Bentley 4-3 0.0 0 0
P. Chung 23 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-2 0 0.0
P. Chung 3-1 0.0 0 0
E. Rowe 25 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-2 0 0.0
E. Rowe 3-1 0.0 0 0
D. McCourty 32 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-4 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-8 0 0.0
D. McCourty 2-4 0.0 0 0
D. Harmon 21 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-2 0 0.0
D. Harmon 2-1 0.0 0 0
D. Wise 91 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 1.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-2 0 2.5
D. Wise 2-1 1.5 0 0
T. Flowers 98 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-3 0 1.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-6 0 2.5
T. Flowers 2-3 1.5 0 0
L. Guy 93 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-4 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-8 0 0.0
L. Guy 1-4 0.0 0 0
K. Van Noy 53 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-4 0 0.0
K. Van Noy 1-2 0.0 0 0
N. Grigsby 50 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
N. Grigsby 1-0 0.0 0 0
M. Brown 90 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.0
M. Brown 1-1 0.0 0 0
A. Butler 70 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-4 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-8 0 0.0
A. Butler 1-4 0.0 0 0
J. Jones 31 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-4 0 0.0
J. Jones 0-2 0.0 0 0
D. Shelton 71 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-4 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-8 0 0.0
D. Shelton 0-4 0.0 0 0
D. Hightower 54 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-4 0 0.0
D. Hightower 0-2 0.0 0 0
E. Roberts 52 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-7 0 0.0
E. Roberts 0-3 0.0 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
S. Gostkowski 3 K
9
FPTS
IN-GAME FG XP
2/2 3/3
SEASON FG XP
4/4 6/6
S. Gostkowski 2/2 39 3/3 9
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
R. Allen 6 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
6 46.8 2
SEASON NO AVG IN20
12 46.8 4
R. Allen 6 46.8 2 55
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
C. Patterson 84 WR
1
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 19.0 19 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
2 19.0 19 0
C. Patterson 1 19.0 19 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:50 HOU 27 1:29 3 4 Punt
7:58 HOU 9 2:12 6 48 Punt
4:12 NE 17 1:33 4 -7 FG
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
12:38 HOU 37 3:37 9 44 FG
7:17 HOU 34 1:39 4 24 INT
4:34 HOU 34 2:56 6 14 Punt
0:14 HOU 30 0:14 1 -1 Half
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 HOU 28 2:06 3 9 Punt
12:25 HOU 45 2:17 7 38 Downs
6:02 HOU 32 4:10 10 68 TD
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
9:48 HOU 31 2:39 5 20 Punt
5:27 HOU 34 0:45 3 2 Punt
4:41 NE 16 2:24 6 16 TD
0:51 HOU 1 0:43 6 42 Game
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 NE 25 1:56 3 8 Punt
13:13 HOU 22 0:06 1 -3 Fumble
13:04 HOU 19 1:08 3 19 TD
10:28 NE 33 2:30 5 18 Punt
5:45 NE 6 1:33 3 4 INT
2:33 NE 25 4:55 10 75 TD
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
9:01 NE 18 1:52 6 12 Punt
5:39 NE 20 1:06 3 6 Punt
1:39 NE 22 1:14 8 78 TD
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:00 NE 21 0:45 2 29 Fumble
9:56 NE 17 3:50 10 63 FG
1:52 NE 25 7:04 13 58 FG
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
7:15 NE 12 1:52 3 8 Punt
2:08 NE 25 1:25 5 20 Punt