Rookie Jacoby Brissett, making his first NFL start, got plenty of help from the visiting Texans in the New England Patriots’ 27-0 rout of Houston on Thursday.
Brissett, playing for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, who was playing for the suspended Tom Brady, ran a bootleg 27 yards for a touchdown and managed the game well in his debut, as the Patriots improved to 3-0 during Brady’s four-game Deflategate absence.
The Texans (2-1) fumbled away two kickoffs, leading to two New England touchdowns, and were also guilty of an interception.
LeGarrette Blount scored from a yard out and then broke a 41-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Stephen Gostkowski kicked two short field goals.
Brissett, 6 of 9 in his debut Sunday, was 11 of 19 for 103 yards passing and ran for 48 yards on eight carries Thursday.
Charles James and rookie Tyler Ervin fumbled the kickoffs, while quarterback Brock Osweiler threw the interception — the second in as many games for linebacker Jamie Collins.
Osweiler, who backstopped the Patriots’ first loss last season when he made his second NFL start with the Denver Broncos, was 24 of 41 for 196 yards.
Lamar Miller ran for 80 yards on 21 carries in the loss.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, making his 2106 debut after missing two games with a hamstring injury, played sparingly and did not have a catch.
Blount ran for 105 yards on 24 carries and has four touchdowns in three games. It was the 12th 100-yard game of his career, his second in five days.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels designed an offense that included running plays for wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Martellus Bennett and even option plays for Brissett, a third-round pick this year.
The touchdown run was the second-longest by a Patriots quarterback since 1976.
In improving to 6-1 against the Texans, the Patriots recorded the 226th regular season victory of coach Bill Belichick’s career, tying him with Curly Lambeau for fourth place all-time.
It was New England’s first shutout since Dec. 30, 2012, and it was the first time the Texans were blanked since Dec. 7, 2003.
Brissett, who ran for nine touchdowns over the last two years at North Carolina State, ran the option on that drive, gaining 13 yards. That was just a prelude to his 27-yard bootleg that made it 10-0.
After Gostkowski’s field goal, James fumbled the ensuing kickoff — it wasn’t called until New England challenged — setting up Brissett’s touchdown. Duron Harmon recovered the fumble, forced by Brandon Bolden.