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New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) makes an adjustment at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Belichick masterful in win over Texans


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rookie third-string quarterback. Making his first NFL start. Three days to prepare. Against an unbeaten opponent.

Piece of cake, right?

Maybe all the other coaching mortals in the NFL would have succumbed with the deck so stacked against them.

Not Bill Belichick.

All he did was make Jacoby Brissett look like one more budding star in his stable of quarterbacks during Thursday night’s 27-0 rout of the Houston Texans.

No Tom Brady? No Jimmy Garoppolo? No legitimate backup?

No worries, Belichick’s got it covered. Doesn’t he always? After Thursday night, you have to wonder if there’s any obstacle or amount of adversity the Patriots head coach can’t handle. The legend just continues to grow.

Basically, Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels cooked up a brilliant game plan on short notice after Garoppolo was unable to play with the sprained AC joint he suffered during a win over the Dolphins last weekend.

Brissett had to come on in relief in the second quarter of that game, but it was understandably a watered-down offense with the Patriots holding a large lead, and the rookie getting his first action.

Thursday night was a different story. He didn’t have a big lead — or any lead — to start, and Houston came in boasting one of the league’s best defenses. Pass rushers J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus were smelling blood, thinking they might have an easy time rattling the rookie.

Belichick and McDaniels had other ideas. And, so did Brissett.

From tight end reverse plays, to speed options, to quarterback trap plays, they did their best to utilize Brissett’s skills, and the kid didn’t disappoint.

Brissett (11-of-19 for 103 yards) was calm, looked like he had been leading the huddle for years, and didn’t make any mistakes. He claimed there was no nervousness, just a lot of encouragement from the coaching staff and teammates, who worked overtime to help prepare the rookie for the game.

“A lot of the veteran players stepped up and helped me out a lot, giving me confidence, the coaching staff gave me confidence, just everything went from there,” said Brissett, a third-round pick out of North Carolina State back in April.

He brought the house down with his 27-yard touchdown run in the first half, faking a handoff to LeGarrette Blount, rolling right and taking off, making a cut at the 5-yard line to dodge Houston safety Andre Hal before diving into the end zone.

Now, there was a bit of nervous time with him running, and making moves, given Julian Edelman was the backup quarterback. But Brissett managed to elude all the would-be tacklers and injury.

“I was just running until I got stopped,” said Brissett. “It worked out how we planned it was going to work out, and just had to make one guy miss at the end zone . . . the guys up front did a great job.”

After the scoring run put the Patriots up 10-0, Brissett came off the field and handed the ball to Belichick. The Patriots coach later gave it back. It was the kid’s first NFL touchdown after all.

“It was crazy, it was awesome,” Brissett said of the touchdown and reaction from the Gillette Stadium crowd, along with his teammates. “It was definitely great, (having) all the players run up to you. I got a headache from all the head-bumping. But it was definitely worth it.”

After the game, Belichick credited the coaching staff for how hard they prepared the team to get ready. He also credited the players for how committed they were to the game plan.

“I’m just really proud of the way these guys competed,” Belichick said. “I thought we tried to do what we wanted to do for 60 minutes ... they just tried to do everything we asked them to do.”
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