FOXBORO — Football is finally back at Foxboro.

The New England Patriots opened up the 2018 season against the Houston Texans Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Any thoughts of a bad start, after what many echoed in the region about a dysfunctional preseason for the five-time Super Bowl champion, was quickly squashed in Week 1.

Tom Brady and the Patriots got off to the fast start before holding off Houston, 27-20, in the season opener for both teams.

“It felt good just to get out there with the guys you’ve been working hard all summer,” Trey Flowers said after the game. “I thought we executed well and made some plays out there.”

Defense was the difference maker, holding the Texans without a touchdown until late in the third quarter. Second-year Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson was under siege all game, getting sacked three times and enduring 12 quarterback hits. Flowers and Deatrich Wise combined for six of the hits.

“We talked about all week just playing from ahead,” defensive captain Devin McCourty said. “By doing that, our offense went out there and I thought they played really well. We just have to keep giving them chances to score against another really good defense.”

The Patriots took a 21-6 lead into the locker room. They have now won for 78th time at home when leading by 10 or more at halftime. It is the longest such streak in NFL history.

 

Brady, the reining MVP of the league, past former quarterback Brett Favre to set a new NFL record for the most wins (14) in a career after the age of 40. He finished the contest 26-of-39 for 277 yards, three touchdowns, an interception and a passer rating of 102.2.

“Yeah, [the offensive line] did a great job, Brady said. “I think we protected well all day and guys really slugged it out. [Houston] does a lot of things well but our guys were up for the challenge. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to get a win.”

The wealth of Brady’s passes was distributed to nine different receivers.

However, his top target was tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught seven passes for a game-high 123 yards and a touchdown. It was Gronkowski’s 27th career 100 yard game, which is second all-time behind the 31 of Tony Gonzalez.

Gronkowski’s touchdown in the first quarter was the 76th scoring play with him and Brady in their careers, which ties for fifth all-time for tight end and quarterback combo.

Head coach Bill Belichick spoke about the connection Brady and Gronkowski has had over the years.

“We see it quite a bit every day,” said Belichick, who passed Tom Landry for third in regular season wins ( 251). “That’s two great players. Both have a lot of skill, both very good at what they do. Rob is hard to cover and Tom can put the ball where only Rob can get it. I’m glad we have them.”

Another productive receiver was Phillip Dorsett, who caught seven passes for 66 yards — both career best in a Patriots uniform. Running back James White also got into the scoring act with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Brady.

All and all, a great beginning for New England's pursue for Super Bowl banner No. 6.

But first it's back to the drawing board to correct a few things before traveling Jacksonville in Week 2.