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Jacoby Brissett promises Bill Belichick not to give ball to Texans, gives it to Patriots coach after touchdown

09.23.16 at 1:30 am ET
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FOXBORO — Jacoby Brissett had one primary mission heading into the game Thursday night in his first NFL start.

Don’t give the ball to the Texans on turnovers.

He kept his promise and it was one of the big reasons the Patriots blanked the Texans, 27-0, at Gillette Stadium.

So, after his 27-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, he took the ball, ran over to Bill Belichick and gave him the ball as evidence of keeping his promise.

“I was supposed to give him the ball,” Brissett smiled. “Make sure they don’t get it. Make sure we get it. So, I gave it to him.”

Did he eventually give the ball back?

“Yeah, he did,” Brissett acknowledged.

Belichick had no problem keeping it in a safe place on the sideline before giving it back to his rookie QB.

“Yeah, of course, just like I did with Troy Brown and Asante Samuel and those other guys,” Belichick said. “I think he handled himself great last week, this week, all week, every day,” Belichick said. “He’s done nothing but come in here and work as hard as he possibly can – when we had three quarterbacks – to take his opportunities and learn from the other two guys, when it was him and Jimmy [Garoppolo] and then this week it was pretty much all him.

“He’s just a hard working kid that is really dedicated to doing what’s right for the team and trying to improve on anything that you tell him. He just wants to do what the coach tells him to do. I’m glad we have him. Yeah, I was just holding the ball for him. That’s his ball. That’s his first touchdown ball, so that’ll go up on his trophy [case].”

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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price explain how Jacoby Brissett pulled off perfect ‘complementary’ win

09.23.16 at 1:03 am ET
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FOXBORO — How did the Patriots pull it off? Jacoby Brissett manages the perfect game and the defense and special teams play huge in the Patriots’ 27–0 win over the Texans on Thursday night. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price have your recap from Foxboro.

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Rob Gronkowski admits he was limited, but says ‘it feels great just playing football again’

09.23.16 at 12:38 am ET
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Rob Gronkowski played just 12 snaps on Sunday, but was happy to get the win. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Rob Gronkowski played just 12 snaps on Sunday, but was happy to get the win. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski made his 2016 debut Thursday night against the Texans after missing the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury suffered Aug. 15 against the Bears in a joint practice.

It wasn’t the debut he may have imagined, as he didn’t catch a pass on just one target and played 12 of the 59 offensive plays, including only three in the second half, but that didn’t matter as he was just happy to get back out on the field and get a win.

“I was definitely limited, obviously. But, it’s all good,” Gronkowski said. “Just talking to everyone — coaches, myself, the training room. It was just what we thought was just right. We got the win. We’re 3-0, which is amazing. I got to get my feet wet, which felt great just to go out there. I blocked the whole time, but it feels great just playing football again.”

Led by rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, the Patriots were able to blowout the Texans, 27-0. In his first NFL start, Brissett went 11-for-19 with 103 yards, while rushing for 48 yards on eight carries.

“Super hyped. Super happy for the whole team, especially for Jacoby coming in just a rookie starting,” Gronkowski said. “You have to give hats off to our defense. The way they played, the turnovers, everything. Just unbelievable.”

It was a total team effort in the win as all three phases contributed in picking up the third win of the season and being 3-0, despite not having Tom Brady and even Jimmy Garoppolo Thursday night.

“It was just a great overall team win,” Gronkowski said. “Just unbelievable aspects in the defense, special teams, offense running the ball. Everyone just did their job and did what they needed to do.”

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Photos: Patriots shut out Texans, improve to 3-0

09.23.16 at 12:13 am ET
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The Patriots shut out the Texans, 27-0, at Gillette Stadium Thursday night to improve to 3-0 on the season. Check out some photos from the game here.

For a complete recap of the game, click here.

LeGarrette Blount celebrates one of his two touchdowns Thursday night. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

LeGarrette Blount celebrates one of his two touchdowns Thursday night. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Snap Judgments: Jacoby Brissett manages big game, Patriots turn over Texans in romp

09.22.16 at 11:28 pm ET
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Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) rushes for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Jacoby Brissett (7) rushes for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Texans at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO – The Patriots defense and special teams made things real simple for Jacoby Brissett in his first NFL start.

Special teams forced a pair of turnovers on kickoffs and Brissett ran for a 27-yard touchdown as the Patriots blanked the Texans, 27-0, Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. It was New England’s first shutout since a 28-0 win over the Dolphins in the season finale on Dec. 30, 2012.

Brissett finished 11-of-19 for 103 yards passing while rushing eight times for 48 yards, including his touchdown.

LeGarrette Blount chipped in with his second straight 100-yard game, gaining 105 yards on 24 carries, including a game-sealing 41-yard run to the end zone with 11:00 left in the fourth.

The Patriots mastered the art of field position all night, thanks in large part to the efforts of Ryan Allen. The punter averaged 47.6 yards on seven punts and pinned the Texans inside their 15 six times. The last time was an end-over-end beauty that was downed at the 4-yard line.

The Texans didn’t get into Patriots territory until 1:25 left in the third quarter on a short pass from Brock Osweiler to Lamar Miller that put the ball at the New England 46.

The Texans didn’t run a single play in Patriots territory in the first half. They appeared ready to finally get there when the Texans finally reached midfield at the two minute warning. But on third-and-2 at the 50, Lamar Miller was stopped for no gain and the Patriots continued the defensive streak.

The biggest turning point of the first half was a Charles James fumble on a Stephen Gostkowski kickoff with 2:01 left in the first quarter. On the kick, the Patriots showed their traditional outstanding special teams skills. Clay Harbor went low to tackle and Brandon Bolden punched the ball loose at the Texans 18. The ball came out to the 22 where it was recovered by Duron Harmon.

After a false start by Marcus Cannon, Brissett ran a designed bootleg around the right side. There was no one home for the Texans defense and Brissett ran 27 yards to paydirt and his first career touchdown. On the play, which was perfectly timed, J.J. Watt shot the “A-gap” and looked to have a clear path to the quarterback. But by the time Watt was in the backfield, Brissett was gone.

Brissett finished the first half completing 5-of-8 passes for 59 yards, with his longest completion coming on a 27-yard pitch-and-catch to fellow rookie Malcolm Mitchell, a play that featured horrific tackling from the Texans. The play set up the Patriots for a 24-yard field goal that gave the Patriots a 3-0 lead.

Rob Gronkowski was used conservatively to start the game, playing roughly every other offensive snap. He was targeted in the red zone by Brissett on the play before the field goal. Brissett dropped back but airmailed a pass to the left corner out of Gronkowski’s reach. It was the only time Gronkowski was targeted in the game.

Closing Time note

The Patriots won their 7th straight Thursday game and are now 11-5 on Thursdays.

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3rd quarter review: Patriots firmly in command, 20-0

09.22.16 at 10:43 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots are in charge after three quarters, as they hold a 20-0 lead on a hapless Houston team here at Gillette Stadium.

Jacoby Brissett has followed the game plan to a T, leaning on some of his more dependable offensive options while going 10-for-16 for 101 yards over the first three quarters. Brissett also had six carries for 45 yards and a touchdown. (That came when he scampered for a 27-yard score back in the first half.) Meanwhile, LeGarrette Blount has 18 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown.

On the other side of the ball, Brock Osweiler and the Houston offense hasn’t found any sort of traction at all. The Texans ran their first play in New England territory all night until there was roughly a minute left in the third quarter, and the quarterback — who signed a four-year, $72 million deal with Houston in the offseason — is 16-for-25 for 157 yards and an interception.

After a scoreless second quarter, the Patriots went back to work at the start of the third with one slow and steady drive that ended with a 25-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski (his second of the night) to make it 13-0 and a much faster one that finished with a 1-yard run from Blount to make it 20-0 with just over five minutes left in the quarter.

The stars of the quarter? Blount, who continues to bulldoze his way for quality yards, as well as Julian Edelman, who just missed a pass in the end zone but has chipped in with four catches for 38 yards.

2nd quarter review: Patriots still hold 10-0 lead

09.22.16 at 9:50 pm ET
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FOXBORO — One half is done, and the Patriots hold a 10-0 lead on the Texans.

Jacoby Brissett is 5-for-8 for 59 yards to go along with three carries for 43 yards and a 27-yard touchdown run. On the other side of the ball, Brock Osweiler is 10-for-16 for 100 yards and one interception (Jamie Collins).

After the Patriots jumped to a 10-0 lead after one quarter, neither team could get any offensive traction in the second quarter.

While Houston has had some success moving the ball over the course of the first half, the New England defense has gotten off the field when needed, a sizable feat given the fact that the Patriots were without defensive centerpiece Dont’a Hightower. The Texans reached midfield for the first time with two minutes left in the first half.

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