Patriots crush Houston to maintain unbeaten start

Jay Asser 08:41 24/09/2016
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Touchdown: Jacoby Brissett.

Bill Belichick keeps proving the New England Patriots are greater than the sum of their parts.

Down to third-string rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett making his first career start, the Patriots still dominated the Houston Texans 27-0 to remain unbeaten to the start the season, even in the absence of Tom Brady and with a limited Rob Gronkowski.

After losing Jimmy Garoppolo to a shoulder injury in Week 2, New England were considered underdogs against the Texans, despite owning a 6-1 head-to-head record and being home at Gillette Stadium.

Brissett wasn’t spectacular, but he didn’t need to be. The 23-year-old completed 10 of his 11 completions on targets under 10 yards and found just one receiver on seven passes that travelled more than 10 yards downfield.

His best highlight though – a 27-yard touchdown run – was more than enough on a night the Patriots recorded their first shutout since 2012 and Houston were blanked for the first time since 2003.

“I think he handled himself great – last week, this week, all week, every day,” Belichick said of Brissett. “He’s done nothing but come in here and work as hard as he possibly can. He’s just a hardworking kid that’s really dedicated to doing what’s right for the team and trying to improve. I’m glad we have him.”

New England, however, could be forced to start their third quarterback in four games after reports surfaced yesterday that Brissett suffered a torn right thumb ligament in the second half against Houston and will likely undergo surgery.

Converted quarterback-to-wide receiver Julian Edelman served as the emergency back-up behind Brissett on Thursday, but has thrown just one pass in the NFL.

Garoppolo’s status, meanwhile, remains uncertain, meaning the Patriots could sign a free agent as a one-week stop-gap before Brady returns for Week 5.

Fortunately for New England, they have additional days to prepare for Buffalo, but the quest to remain unbeaten is now even more of a challenge for Belichick.

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