Behind Gronkowski and Dorsett, Patriots go up early and hold on for 27-20 win over Texans

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(Adam Richins/Boston Sports Journal)

FOXBOROUGH — No Julian Edelman? No problem.

The Patriots got a big afternoon from Rob Gronkowski, Rex Burkhead and Phillip Dorsett on the way to a 27-20 win over the Texans Sunday in the regular-season opener for both teams.

Tom Brady finished 26-for-39 for 277 yards, throwing three touchdown passes (to Gronkowski, Dorsett and James White) on the way to the victory. New England never trailed on the afternoon, taking leads of 7-3 after one quarter and 21-6 at the half on the way to its ninth win in the last 10 home openers.

The Patriots were helped in the first half by a wildly ineffective Houston red-zone offense — the Texans had to settle for a pair of field goals in the early going, despite good field position. (Tyrann Mathieu had a first-quarter pick of Brady that gave Houston the ball at the New England 17, but Houston only managed a field goal.) They were unable to make up the difference.

Deshaun Watson finished 17-for-35 for 176 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but Houston could only find the end zone once in the first three quarters, when a third-quarter touchdown cut the New England lead to 24-13. (The Texans cut it to 27-20 with a late touchdown pass, but could get no closer.)

Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise did well when it came to getting after the quarterback (1.5 sacks each), while Stephon Gilmore added an interception in the win.