NFL Preseason Week 1 Game Recap: Houston Texans 20, New England Patriots 9

2RGN036 New England Patriots defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale, left, chases down Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Houston Texans started their 2023 preseason with a 20-9 victory on the road against the New England Patriots in Thursday night's first matchup of a doubleheader.  

Texans second overall pick quarterback C.J. Stroud offered the most intrigue heading into this contest, but it was a bumpy first preseason start for Houston’s new franchise quarterback.  


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Offensive spotlight: Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton made the play of the game late in the first quarter with a well-timed leap to snatch the ball out of the air down the left sideline with Jalen Pitre closing on him, picking up 27 yards on the throw from quarterback Bailey Zappe. The 2022 second-round pick has reportedly been somewhat underwhelming in training camp thus far, so it was good to see him make a splash play in his first preseason action of 2023.

Defensive spotlight: Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud was promptly welcomed to the NFL in his first preseason outing, taking a 15-yard sack (Daniel Ekuale) and then throwing an interception to Patriots cornerback Jalen Mills on just his second passing attempt in the first series of the game. 

Stroud saw rookie wide receiver Nathaniel “Tank” Dell create a mile of separation and then start to work back toward the line of scrimmage, but didn’t see Mills break on the ball leading to an ugly interception. Dell was running free for much of the night, though a lot of his work was just beyond the line of scrimmage. The third-rounder bobbled a perfect back-shoulder throw from Davis Mills in the front left corner of the end zone but displayed impressive concentration to corral the touchdown. 

Rookie spotlight: Patriots second-round rookie Keion White made his presence felt throughout the first half, including a big tackle on Texans running back Dare Ogunbowale after he dropped a pitch from Mills that enabled White’s teammates to scoop up the fumble and flip the field. White looked like he was playing a step faster than the rest of the competition, and as deep as New England’s defensive line rotation may be, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he’s played his last preseason snaps for a while. 

Offensive line spotlight: The Texans didn’t start either offensive tackle, as they shouldn’t have considering both are among the five highest-paid players at their position (and right tackle Tytus Howard was recently injured), but nonetheless, Stroud may have dealt with more pressure in his eight dropbacks than he did the last two years at Ohio State. Things didn’t get much easier for Mills

The Patriots unit held up relatively well despite the lack of offensive production, allowing three sacks on six total pressures on the night with one almost leading to a safety. Rookies Sidy Sow and Atonio Mafi both allowed one pressure each but looked solid otherwise in their first preseason action. 


Box Score

Passing
Houston Texans
Player Fantasy Comp/Att Yds YPA TD Int
Davis Mills 6.96 9 / 12 99 8.2 1 0
Case Keenum 6.86 9 / 14 79 5.6 1 0
C.J. Stroud 0.12 2 / 4 13 3.2 0 1
New England Patriots
Player Fantasy Comp/Att Yds YPA TD Int
Malik Cunningham 10.16 3 / 4 19 4.8 0 0
Bailey Zappe 3.76 12 / 14 79 5.6 0 0
Trace McSorley 0.46 1 / 3 4 1.3 0 0
Rushing
Houston Texans
Player Fantasy Car Yds YPC TD Long
Davis Mills 6.96 1 0 0 0 0
Case Keenum 6.86 3 -3 -1 0 -1
Dalton Keene 6.1 1 1 1 1 1
Gerrid Doaks 4.5 5 20 4 0 6
Mike Boone 4.2 4 25 6.2 0 12
Dare Ogunbowale 1.8 5 18 3.6 0 10
Devin Singletary 1.4 5 14 2.8 0 5
Xazavian Valladay 0.8 4 8 2 0 4
C.J. Stroud 0.12 2 6 3 0 4
New England Patriots
Player Fantasy Car Yds YPC TD Long
Malik Cunningham 10.16 5 34 6.8 1 9
Pierre Strong Jr. 6.3 6 21 3.5 0 8
Bailey Zappe 3.76 1 6 6 0 6
J.J. Taylor 3.5 4 4 1 0 4
Kevin Harris 1 8 10 1.2 0 7
Trace McSorley 0.46 1 3 3 0 3
Receiving
Houston Texans
Player Fantasy Tgt Rec Yds YPT TD
Tank Dell 17.5 8 5 65 8.1 1
Alex Bachman 9.1 3 2 11 3.7 1
Dalton Keene 6.1 1 0 0 0 0
Gerrid Doaks 4.5 2 2 5 2.5 0
Mike Boone 4.2 1 1 7 7 0
Mason Schreck 3.7 2 2 17 8.5 0
Steven Sims 3.7 2 2 17 8.5 0
Xavier Hutchinson 3 2 1 20 10 0
Jared Wayne 2.9 1 1 19 19 0
Jalen Camp 2.1 3 1 11 3.7 0
Nico Collins 1.8 1 1 8 8 0
Johnny Johnson III 1.6 1 1 6 6 0
John Metchie III 1.5 1 1 5 5 0
Devin Singletary 1.4 1 0 0 0 0
Andrew Beck 0 1 0 0 0 0
New England Patriots
Player Fantasy Tgt Rec Yds YPT TD
Pierre Strong Jr. 6.3 3 3 12 4 0
Tre Nixon 6.3 6 4 23 3.8 0
Tyquan Thornton 5.1 2 2 31 15.5 0
J.J. Taylor 3.5 2 2 11 5.5 0
Kayshon Boutte 2.7 2 2 7 3.5 0
Scotty Washington 2.1 1 1 11 11 0
Matt Sokol 1.4 2 1 4 2 0
Thyrick Pitts 1.3 2 1 3 1.5 0

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