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Houston Texans' Brock Osweiler let his eyes inticate his intentions

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The Sports Xchange
Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) drops back for a pass in the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on September 22, 2016. Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI
Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) drops back for a pass in the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on September 22, 2016. Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI | License Photo

HOUSTON -- This staring contest wasn't even close, a high-profile case of the New England Patriots exploiting a troublesome tendency of Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler.

Osweiler has a habit of locking onto his primary read, staring down his targets, often allowing defensive players to simply read his eyes to determine which direction the football is going.

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That poker tell from Osweiler manifested itself in a major way during the second quarter of the previously undefeated Texans' embarrassing 27-0 debacle of a loss to the Patriots on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

Osweiler looked at Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the moment he took the snap, failing to use a head fake or pump fake to get the defense off-balance. Because of that shortcoming and a fast reaction from Jamie Collins, Osweiler never saw the gifted Patriots outside linebacker breaking on the football as he undercut his errant pass intended for Hopkins.

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"I tried forcing the football where the football probably shouldn't have gone," Osweiler said. "That was something we talked about throughout the week when they play zone defense, you check the ball down, check the ball down, check the ball down, stay patient. That was a play where I thought I had a window to throw and unfortunately Jamie made a heck of a play. That's a throw I need to learn from when a team is playing zone."

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The interception was one of the few Houston miscues that didn't lead to points for the Patriots as the Texans' defense forced a three-and-out on the subsequent series. But it was a play that defined Osweiler's night and his season so far. He was ineffective against a Patriots defense that prevented him from getting into a rhythm as he completed just 24 of 41 passes for 196 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a 60.6 passer rating.

"I think any time an offense struggles to develop a rhythm, struggles scoring points, the first thing you have to examine is the quarterback," Osweiler said. "I'll take the blame for this one. Anytime a team doesn't score points, it's on me.

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"I'll examine the tape very closely. I'll become a better quarterback for this experience. Bottom line: I needed to play better to allow our team to have an opportunity to try to win the ballgame."

Osweiler has now thrown four interceptions in just three games since joining the Texans as their $72 million franchise quarterback. Signed to a four-year contract that included $37 million guaranteed to leave the Denver Broncos as a free agent, the 6-foot-8, 235-pound former Arizona State standout has had mixed results.

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Texans coach Bill O'Brien acknowledged that Osweiler was trying to do too much on the interception.

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"It looked like on that one he probably tried to force it," O'Brien said. "He's just trying to make a play. It's not concerning to me. It's just something that we have to go over with him and coach him up on what that coverage was and what that route was and where he should go with the ball the next time. We'll fix that."

Several of the interceptions he has thrown were intended for Hopkins, who led the Texans with 111 catches for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

"Every time we break the huddle and a pass play is called, DeAndre is on my radar: 'What route is he running? Can I get him the football?'" Osweiler said. "But there's no excuse for the interception. My job is to protect the football and score points and lead this offense.

"Bottom line, I didn't do that. I turned the ball over and I wasn't efficient enough. I need to play better. I will play better and will learn from this experience."

-- The Texans' special teams were supposed to be improving under new special-teams coordinator Larry Izzo, a former Pro Bowl special-teams ace with the New England Patriots.

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This wasn't the kind of performance that Izzo envisioned, though.

Instead of having rookie running back Tyler Ervin return a kickoff in the first quarter, the Texans had reserve cornerback Charles James back deep for the return after a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski staked the Patriots to a 3-0 lead.

James made a questionable decision to take it out of the end zone and fumbled it away as running back Brandon Bolden popped it out of his hands.

The turnover led to immediate points for the Patriots as rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett rushed for a 27-yard touchdown to boost the lead to 10-0.

"I was trying to make a play and saw a little crack and he did a good job of getting a hat on the ball," James said. "I put that blame on me. When you're carrying the ball, you carry the hopes and dreams of the team and I didn't do a good job with that.

"I know I'll be resilient. I'll be up long hours of the night rethinking. I hate to have that happen. I'm a team guy and I feel like I let the guys down."

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Problems would occur again in the third quarter when Ervin fumbled away a kickoff. That led to another touchdown for the Patriots as running back LeGarrette Blount capitalized on the short field for a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Texans away as they fell behind 20-0.

"I got to make sure I carry the ball with my left hand on the left side," Ervin said. "I got to do a better job of securing it. We got to continue getting better."

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