5 takeaways from the Texans’ 25-22 loss to the Patriots

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The Houston Texans dropped their fourth consecutive game in a 25-22 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium.

The Texans came close to ending their losing streak by holding a 22-9 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Patriots produced 16 unanswered points to complete the comeback victory.

In the loss, rookie quarterback David Mills threw for a career-best 305 yards while completing 21-of-29 pass attempts and three touchdowns. For New England, rookie quarterback Mac Jones threw for 231 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

As the Texans fall to 1-4 on the season, here are five takeaways from Houston’s loss to the Patriots.

1. Davis Mills looked more comfortable and confident

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After the worst performance by a starting quarterback in franchise history, Davis Mills had a bounce-back performance no one saw coming. And for the first time all season, he looked like an NFL quarterback.

Mills did an exceptional job going through his reads from the pocket, which allowed him to spread the ball evenly throughout the offense.

When his targets were not open, Mills did not force anything. It’s a lesson he learned during his one-on-one conversations with coach David Culley throughout the week.

Mills’ best showing against the Patriots was his ability to handle pressure once the pocket began to collapse. In the words of Tytus Howard, Mills used his “sneaky athleticism” to extend plays.

Mills was at his best when rolling right to escaping the pocket, and he connected with his targets several times throughout the game. His best play of the day was the 67-yard touchdown play to wideout Chris Moore.

When compared to his first four games, Mills appeared more comfortable and confident, especially throughout the first half.

With Mills playing more relaxed, the Texans did open up their playbook to allow their rookie quarterback to orchestrate the offense. But for some reason, Houston’s coaching staff reverted to their conservative play-calling, which hampered not only Mills but their offense throughout the second half.

2. Backfield set the tone for the Texans early in the game

(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

The Texans had one of their best drives of the season when they took a 6-0 lead over the Patriots early in the first quarter, and a vital part of their offensive success was the play of their run game.

The Texans’ backfield recorded a combined 35 yards on the ground, with Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram each accounting for a combined 15 yards apiece. But it was the production of David Johnson that gave the Texans the most significant boost, recording 18 receiving yards on two catches on the drive.

When used as a slot receiver, Johnson is at his best because it allows him to utilize his best attribute as a pass-catcher. Plus, it gives Mills a reliable target he can employ amid short intermediated routes.

The result ended in the Texans recording 18 plays on their first drive that ended with Mills’ finding tight end Antony Auclair for Houston’s first touchdown of the day.

3. Texans using tight end more in the passing game

(AP Photo/Justin Rex)

The Texans’ offense has not looked good since their Week 1 victory over the Jaguars, and an essential reason was due to the play of their tight ends.

Not only did the production of Jordan Akins, Pharaoh Brown, and Antony Auclair give Davis Mills additional targets in the passing game. But the tight end’s on-field play opened the door for Houston’s receivers to draw less attention from New England’s defensive coverage.

In some ways, the Texans exploited their tight ends as a decoy which worked in the receiving core’s favor.

4. Chris Moore should become a full-time member of the active roster

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

When the Texans released Anthony Miller Wednesday, David Culley said his jettison was due to the return of Danny Amendola, but the veteran wide receiver remained inactivated Sunday. In Amendola’s absence, the Texans called up Moore from the practice squad and made the most out of his opportunity.

By playing off the success of the tight ends, Moore used his speed to win several one-on-one battles to beat his man in coverage. The outcome ended in Moore recording 109 on five catches, with 87 yards coming in the first half.

The lack of a dependable slot receiver is one of the causes the Texans’ offense looked so depleted the last three games, and Moore played a significant role in their offensive turnaround. He definitely should become a full-time member of the Texans’ active roster moving forward.

It is also worth mentioning that Mills looked more comfortable taking the field with the 28-year-old wideout from Cincinnati, given the amount of time they spent working together dating back to training camp. The two have worked on their chemistry since late July, and it was on full display on Sunday.

5. Texans special team was terrible

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Three missed field goals and a botched punt. The Texans’ special team unit was the only dreadful part of Sunday’s loss to the Patriots.

Nick Caserio seems like a general manager who doesn’t give his players too many chances. It may be time for Caserio to make some changes to the Texans’ special team unit.

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