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Jimmy Garoppolo tough on himself while showing impressive toughness

Jimmy Garoppolo struggled at times on Saturday night against the Texans, but also showed poise and toughness. Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON -- New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was hard on himself following Saturday night’s 27-23 loss to the Houston Texans, as he lost a fumble on a crunching sack and later threw a sideline interception when he was attempting to throw the ball away.

Those miscues turned into two Texans touchdowns and are the types of shaky ball security that can sink a team when the games count for real.

While it’s possible the sack might not have been his fault -- Texans linebacker Tony Washington Jr. came in unblocked, and the Patriots generally don’t have protections that allow runaway rushers -- Garoppolo still took the blame. That’s what good leaders do.

As for the interception, Garoppolo’s intent was in the right place. His execution, however, was way off the mark.

“I was just trying to throw it away, but didn’t put enough on it,” he explained, as he was on the move to evade an oncoming defensive end. “It was just a bad play.”

No one is arguing that, but what stood out more to me -- and I believe is more relevant than one ill-advised interception -- is the series of plays between the strip sack and interception.

Garoppolo was lit up on the sack. Huge hit.

So much about football is how players respond to absorbing a hit like that, and Garoppolo stood confidently in the pocket to complete his next six passes to lead a touchdown drive. The first connection, a 19-yarder to receiver Austin Carr along the right sideline, was an excellent throw.

That was an obvious positive in Garoppolo’s performance on Saturday night, albeit against the Texans’ backup defense.

As for the big picture, the sample size to evaluate Garoppolo is still limited. The shoulder injury he sustained in Week 2 of the regular season last year has sparked some media-based questions on if his style of play might make him more prone to injury. Some have taken it further and asked the question, “How tough is he?”

He looked plenty tough on Saturday night, adding another layer to the ongoing analysis of him as a player.