Savage solidifies starting role leading Texans over Patriots
HOUSTON — Operating out of the shotgun formation, Houston Texans starting quarterback Tom Savage made a fast decision when he saw wide receiver Jaelen Strong break across the middle against the New England Patriots secondary.
Savage lobbed a perfect spiral in the back of the end zone to connect with Strong, a fellow Philadelphia native, for a leaping 2-yard touchdown catch against the reigning Super Bowl champions.
Strong beat Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler for the score during a 27-23 preseason win for the Texans at NRG Stadium.
It was an extremely sharp performance by Savage, the Texans’ new starter, as he continues to hold off the challenge of gifted first-round draft pick Deshaun Watson.
Savage completed 8 of 9 passes for 98 yards, one score and no interceptions for a pristine 149.1 passer rating in nearly one quarter of action before being replaced by Watson.
At this stage of the preseason, Savage has done nothing to relinquish his grip on the starting job.
“Yeah, I’m really, really comfortable with this offense,” Savage said. “We have a lot of talent out there and a lot of the guys are making some big plays for me and it’s been awesome.”
Watson completed just 3 of 10 passes for 102 yards for a 69.6 passer rating. Sixty-three of those yards came on an impressive catch-and-run by rookie running back D’Onta Foreman. Watson rushed for 10 yards on four carries.
Watson also rushed for one touchdown, his second this preseason.
Although Watson made some good plays while dealing with pressure, it wasn’t the kind of performance that would make a convincing argument for him to unseat Savage.
For the Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady completed 6 of 9 passes for 67 yards, one touchdown and had no interceptions for a 125.7 passer rating.
He found running back Rex Burkhead in the open field with Burkhead beating rookie linebacker Zach Cunningham for a 22-yard touchdown pass.
In relief of Brady, Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 15 of 23 passes for 145 yards, one touchdown and one interception.