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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.

1st quarter review: Patriots jump to 10-0 lead behind Jacoby Brissett

09.22.16 at 9:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — One quarter is in the books here at Gillette Stadium, and the Patriots hold a 10-0 lead on Houston. Jacoby Brissett got the start for the Patriots and was 4-for-6 for 43 yards and two carries for 40 yards, including one that went for a touchdown.

The Texans couldn’t do anything with their first drive of the night, with the series coming to an end following a Jabaal Sheard sack of Brock Osweiler on third down. The Patriots picked up the ball at their own 31, but ended up posting a three-and-out. The highlight? Simply seeing Rob Gronkowski in pads — it was 242 days since he was last on the field. Gronkowski was on the field for just about every other snap over the course of the first quarter.

On their next-to-last drive of the quarter, the Patriots were able to get down into the red zone, but a pass for Gronkowski in the end zone on 3rd and one came up short, and the Patriots had to settle for three. The drive took 10 plays, went 74 yards and took 4:52. Not bad — especially when Brissett took off on a designed run for 13 yards — but the fact that they came up short of the end zone likely left Bill Belichick upset.

The Patriots got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff when Brandon Bolden delivered a hammer of a tackle and Duron Harmon stopped of the ball, giving New England the ball at the Houston 32. Brissett then ripped off a 27-yard touchdown run, sending he New England sideline into orbit and giving the Patriots a 10-0 lead with just over two minutes left in the quarter.

One of the things that was really noticeable was the fact that the Patriots’ offense had someone in motion on almost every play. New England does a lot of pre-snap motion anyway — it helps diagnose man coverage against zone — but while some of it is taking advantage of personnel and matchups, there’s a sizable part of it that’s designed to help a young quarterback read defenses.

Jonathan Kraft says Vince Wilfork will ‘always be a Patriot’ and Jacoby Brissett is ‘not along for the ride’

09.22.16 at 8:39 pm ET
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Jonathan Kraft

Jonathan Kraft

FOXBORO — As Patriots president Jonathan Kraft was doing his pregame radio interview on the team’s network, a big ovation broke out in the middle.

The crowd was paying tribute to Vince Wilfork, who was being shown on the video board in his Texans uniform, getting ready for the game. It will be the second time Wilfork has faced Belichick’s Patriots but the first time Wilfork has returned to Foxboro since leaving after the 2014 season and signing a two-year, $9 million deal.

“They should [applaud] and if we weren’t all talking, I would’ve been applauding, too,” Kraft said. “I love the guy. To me, he’ll always be a Patriot. I can’t wait till we induct him into the [Patriots] Hall because I think that’s probably a foregone conclusion. He was the heart and soul of not just the defense but that locker room for a number of years. He and Bianca were both [great]. They were everything you could want in a football player and his family, on and off the field. It’s amazing to watch what he does at his age. He’s still playing really good football.”

The tribute continued during the game, as with 12:16 left in the first quarter, Wilfork took the field for the first time with the Texans defense. A highlight video was shown and at the end of the 30-second video, Wilfork waved his hand to the crowd in appreciation.

As for when he knew about Jimmy Garoppolo not dressing for the game or when he might be ready to return, Kraft played it coy.

“I don’t know exactly. I guess earlier [Thursday],” Kraft said. “It wasn’t two days ago but to be fair, I wasn’t asking the question two days ago. Earlier today, I asked the question.”

How long might Garoppolo be out?

“We’re going to let you ask Bill that question,” Kraft said. “I might or I might now but I’m going to let you ask Bill that question.”
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Read More: houston texans, Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jonathan Kraft

Dont’a Hightower, Jimmy Garoppolo among inactives vs. Texans

09.22.16 at 7:06 pm ET
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Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

FOXBORO — The following Patriots players are inactive against the Texans Thursday night: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end A.J. Derby, cornerback Eric Rowe, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, running back D.J Foster and offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper.

Gronkowski will make his season debut after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury, while Hightower will miss his second straight game with a knee injury.

With Garoppolo inactive, Julian Edelman will be the backup quarterback.

Foster and Derby will miss their second game of the season, while Rowe and Cooper haven’t played in a game yet this season.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Dont'a Hightower, Jimmy Garoppolo, Rob Gronkowski,

Rob Gronkowski reportedly will be active vs. Texans

09.22.16 at 5:15 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski

FOXBORO — It appears Rob Gronkowski will make his 2016 debut Thursday night.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the tight end will be active against the Texans. He missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury suffered on Aug. 15 in a joint practice against the Bears.

“I’m feeling better every single day that goes on, every single week,” Gronkowski said Tuesday. “That’s all I can ask for. Obviously, you just don’t wake up 100 percent. I’m improving every day. I am satisfied with the improvements and every day I’m getting better.”

It would seem likely having not played yet this season that he will be on a snap count, but nonetheless he’ll be a good target for rookie Jacoby Brissett, who will likely get the start.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Rob Gronkowski,

Scene-setting from Gillette: Ideal weather as Pats host Texans in battle of 2-0 teams

09.22.16 at 4:21 pm ET
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IMG_0667

The scene is set for Patriots and Texans at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO  –  At least the weather is expected to be crystal clear as the Patriots host the Texans at Gillette Stadium to open Week 3 of the NFL season.

Clear skies and a game-time temperature around 70 is expected for the 8:25 p.m. kickoff. It could be chilly by the end of the game as the forecast is calling for temperatures to fall into the low 60s by the fourth quarter.

It will be somewhat humid as the forecast is calling for a relative humidity of 60 percent. But there is no precipitation in the forecast and just a slight breeze out of the south at 5 MPH.

While the weather will be clear the forecast as to who will be the starting quarterback and who will be the backup has been downright cloudy ever since Jimmy Garoppolo’s right shoulder was driven into the Gillette Stadium turf by Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso with five minutes left in the first half Sunday.

Making things murkier is the fact the Patriots could be starting a rookie quarterback in Jacoby Brissett, who was 6-for-9 for 92 yards in his relief effort, marking his NFL debut out of North Carolina State.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether Jimmy Garoppolo could be on the sideline. Ian Rapoport and Courtney Fallon of NFL Network report that Garoppolo is expected to dress and serve as the backup. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports it’s more likely and expected that Garoppolo won’t suit up at all and Julian Edelman will serve as the emergency backup if something happens with Brissett. Garoppolo was officially listed as doubtful on Wednesday’s final injury report.

Either way, as it appears now, Brissett will indeed make his first NFL start.

Another big storyline is expected to be Rob Gronkowski. Rapoport reported early in the day that “there’s a real chance” Gronkowski makes his 2016 season debut after missing the first two games with a strained hamstring. This was later advanced when Lisa Hughes of WBZ-TV and Adam Schefter both confirmed Gronkowski is expected to play. Gronkowski was officially listed as one of six Patriots as questionable heading into tonight’s game.

Ryan Hannable has 10 fun facts about tonight’s Thursday night game which features the “Color Rush” uniforms both teams will be wearing. Chris Price has the scouting report.

Read More: Bill O'Brien, houston texans, Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo
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