The Houston Texans knocked off the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football, setting up the Baltimore Ravens to take the top seed in the AFC.
The New England Patriots‘ paltry offense finally caught up to them, with the team stumbling on the road in Week 13 versus the Houston Texans. Bill O’Brien won for the first time in six tries against his former mentor Bill Belichick, and the Texans retained control of the AFC South and improved to 8-4 on the season thanks to their 28-22 win on Sunday Night Football.
For the first time this season, the Patriots defense wasn’t good enough to bail out the offense. Belichick’s D gave up four touchdowns to O’Brien’s O, all four of which involved star Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson. The first three TDs went to Duke Johnson, Darren Fells, and Kenny Stills; the fourth TD was a trick play that worked to perfection, with the end result being a DeAndre Hopkins pass to Watson himself as he streaked into the end zone.
Brady and the offense were once again stymied all night. James White caught a wide-open 12-yard pass for a touchdown, but it didn’t happen until there were just 11 seconds left in the third quarter. The Patriots then scored two more touchdowns within the last four minutes of the fourth quarter and almost recovered the onside kick, but ultimately the ball went out of bounds, the Texans took possession, and Watson ran out the clock to end the game.
The Patriots’ Kai Forbath made a field goal early in the first quarter but missed an extra point later in the contest. Forbath was filling in for Nick Folk, who was released earlier in the week due to an emergency appendectomy. It is believed at this time that Folk will return and replace Forbath before Week 14’s important showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.
New England falls to 10-2 with the loss, and now sits in second-place in the AFC postseason hierarchy due to their Week 9 loss in Baltimore. The Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers earlier Sunday afternoon to improve to 10-2, and own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Patriots. If the season ended today, Baltimore would own home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
The Patriots will not have much time to lick their wounds. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are fresh off a 40-9 beatdown of their AFC West rivals in the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs, now 8-4, head to Foxborough next Sunday for a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game.
If there’s a silver lining for the Patriots, it’s that the Ravens face the Buffalo Bills in Week 14.
Whatever happens with that game, it could be considered a beneficial result for New England. The Bills are currently 9-3; if they lose to the Ravens, they’d fall to 9-4 and would be two games behind the Patriots in the AFC East, no matter what happens in New England’s game against Kansas City. If the Bills beat Baltimore, Buffalo would close the gap on the Pats, but New England would have an opportunity to regain the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win over the Chiefs.