August 19, 2017
By Lou Roesch
Copyright LJR Sports Media 2017
For the first time since 2004, the Houston Texans met an AFC opponent in the preseason that they will play in regular season as they hosted the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium on Saturday night. The Texans first preseason win was highlighted by big plays at the most opportune moments.
Bruce Ellington picked on waivers following the injury to Will Fuller V put on display of athleticism, speed and as he got a start with the first team to open the game.
Ellington in a crazy 16 days had four receptions for 98 yards in the first half. The yardage represented the fifth highest preseason receiving total in franchise history. Sixteen days ago, the San Francisco 49ers cut Ellington. The third year pro who had 19 receptions in 26 games for the 49ers was claimed off waivers on August 4th by the New York Jets. just a few minutes shy of 27 hours, Ellington was cut again and sat waiting for a phone call. On August 11th at 4:48pm the Texans came calling and eight days later the former South Carolina Gamecock was a slicing and dicing through the Patriots defense. Ellington caught passes of 12, 37, 33, and 11 yards respectively. The 23.3 yards per catch more than doubled his career average of 11.3 yards per catch coming into the game.
“It’s been a tough time going through that injury (hamstring) missing a whole year,” recalled Ellington after the game. “Today kind of gives me that confidence back that I can run and do this. I am blessed.”
The big plays continued in the second half. After failing to move the team on the opeing drive o =f the second half rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson hooked up with fellow rookie D’onta Foreman for a 63 yard pass play to the New England four yard line. Two plays later Watson took it home as he reversed field after being contained on a bootleg by Patriots defensive lineman Kony Ealy.
The ensuing Patriots possession ended in one play as outside linebacker Tony Washington Jr sacked New England quarterback Jimmy Garrapolo and forced a fumble recovered by Matthew Godin leading to a Ka’imi Fairbairm field goal.
With four minutes gone in the fourth quarter and New England leading, Houston cornerback Denzel Rice snagged a Garrapolo pass and returned in to the Patriots four yard line. Foreman finished it from there.
And no Texan victory would be complete without the defense closing out the game with a big play. New England back-up Jacoby Brissett who tortured Houston at Gillette Stadium last fall was in the midst of driving the Patriots to a game winning touchdown when out the blue comes Ufomba Kamalu with a seven yard sack and fumble of Brissett at the Houston 15 on a second and eight from the Texans eight with 38 seconds remaining.
Defensive end JJ Watt who came through the tunnel for the first time since Week 2 against Kansas City last season may have summed the game up best when he told the assembled media “It’s fun. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. This team is a lot of fun. When we put it all together, we’re a lot of fun.”