Savage Consistent; Watson Spotty In Win Over Patriots

By Matt Hammond, SportsRadio 610

HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) – Deshaun Watson may have to wait.

Tom Savage doesn’t look to be giving up the Houston Texans starting quarterback job anytime soon.

After struggling in the preseason opener, Savage was sharp Saturday night against the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium, completing 8 of 9 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown in the Texans 27-23 win.

He played only two series but led head coach Bill O’Brien’s offense on drives of 81 and 58 yards – the latter capped by a two-yard touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong.

Savage also connected with wide receiver Bruce Ellington for 37 yards on the game’s opening drive, putting the ball on the Patriots 12-yard-line.

The drive stalled from there, ending when Lamar Miller gained only two yards on 4th-and-six. But for the first time this preseason, Savage seemed comfortable and in control.

Savage, who was named the starting quarterback just hours after Watson was drafted, even seemed to improve his internal clock. He was sacked twice on their opening drive, both times after holding onto the ball too long. But from there he was more decisive, making quick reads and hitting most of his spots.

Watson, meanwhile, looked like a rookie.

He hit rookie running back D’Onta Foreman on a slant that Foreman took 63 yards to the Patriots 4-yard-line, and took a zone-read option himself for a four-yard touchdown run, but completed only 3 of 10 passes with the second- and third-teamers.

Ellington, who was signed only two weeks ago, also shined. He had four catches for 93 yards on five targets, all from Savage.

On the other side of the ball, JJ Watt looked like JJ Watt again.

Despite three back surgeries in nine months and a lost season a year ago, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year bullied a makeshift Patriots offensive line, recording one tackle for loss and a few pressures on Tom Brady. He played only one series.

Other notable moments:

– Kicker Ka’imi Fairbarn hit both of his field goal attempts, from 31 and 35 yards out; Nick Novak didn’t attempt a field goal, but hit all three of his extra points

– Cornerback Denzel Rice had a fourth-quarter interception of Jimmy Garoppolo, and took it 39 yards to the Patriots 4-yard-line; Foreman punched it in from there, finishing with 87 total yards, 66 receiving

– Fifth round rookie Treston Decoud trucked tight end James O’Shaughnessy in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble that landed out of bounds; O’Brien challenged the play, hoping for better field position, but lost

– Second round rookie linebacker Zach Cunningham got beat by D.J. Foster for a 25 yard touchdown from Garoppolo

– Linebacker Tony Washington strip sacked Garoppolo in the third quarter, but the Patriots recovered

– Safety Andre Hal had a first-quarter interception of Brady, though it was overturned by review

– Linebacker Dylan Cole had a game-high 10 tackles

DeAndre Hopkins, who hasn’t practiced since the preseason opener with an undisclosed injury, didn’t dress for the game. Neither did Jadeveon Clowney, who sat out of both of their joint practice sessions this week with the Patriots.

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