Full Disclaimer: I was in North Carolina watching this game on a bar TV that was MAYBE 40 inches, so bear with me.
If you read nothing but the first sentence of this article, know that I think the Patriots played like complete crap. Tom Brady was not sharp, Dion Lewis couldn't hold onto the football, and Martellus Bennett was a complete non-factor in this game. Sure, the defense played solid, especially in the crappy situations the offense put them in, but the Patriots need to play better in all areas of the game if they want to beat Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, or Aaron Rodgers in the Super Bowl. If the Patriots played any other team, they probably would have lost.
The Patriots shot themselves in the foot on both sides of the football, whether it was a stupid personal foul by Eric Rowe or an awful interception by Tom Brady. The Patriots put the football on the ground twice, losing one, and Tom Brady threw two interceptions in very un-Patriot-like fashion. If the Patriots do not force Brock Osweiler to throw three interceptions and have a somewhat competent quarterback, this recap may be going a lot differently.
Speaking of interceptions, the Patriots secondary has to be commended for their terrific play. Logan Ryan and Devin McCourty were playing out of their minds, while we didn't hear much from Malcolm Butler because he had the Darrelle Revis treatment while covering DeAndre Hopkins. The Patriots weren't able to generate a ton of pressure on Osweiler, but they had timely sacks from a number of guys.
I don't think the Patriots, or Texans, for that matter, exposed any flaws in New England's system. Simply put, the Patriots looked and played like a team that was rusty after a bye week. The offense was sputtering and looked uncomfortable for the majority of the game, which is crazy to say if you look at the final numbers.
Since I have been ripping the Patriots offense this entire article, I guess I can give some love to a few guys that played above and beyond. Julian Edelman has turned into a #1 wide receiver on a Super Bowl contender. With eight receptions for 137 yards, while also playing stellar special teams, Edelman has turned into one of the grittiest players in the NFL. Furthermore, Chris Hogan was a great downfield threat, as he hauled in four catches for 95 yards. Lastly, we need to give some credit to Dion Lewis. While he did fumble the football twice (one lost), the Patriots used Lewis in almost every facet of the game. In fact, Lewis is the first Patriots player to ever have a special teams touchdown, a receiving touchdown, and a rushing touchdown in the same game.
The Patriots were able to put up 34 points against the best defense in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, and Atlanta Falcons cannot even be put in the same conversation defensively as the Houston Texans. If the Patriots were able to put up 34 points against the Texans, what will they be able to do against one of these three teams?