|12.11.12 at 2:31 am ET|
FOXBORO — Leading up to this match-up during the week, many were calling this game possibly the biggest in Texans history. Houston has never taken one loss this far into a season, and traveling to face a Patriots team with a 9-3 record on Monday Night Football only upped the ante.
But it was clear who the superior team was on Monday night in Foxboro.
There’s probably a lot to be said about experience; the Patriots have it in December, January and February. The Texans, not as much.
Since the Texans and Patriots now account for two of the top three teams in the AFC, the likelihood of them meeting again down the playoff road is a high one. Whether this game takes place in Houston or Foxboro is yet to be seen, if it happens at all. And if it does, several members of the Texans said they now know what to look for from this veteran New England team, and themselves as well.
‘It’s a teaching moment,’ defensive end Whitney Mercilus said after the game. ‘This is a good team and we can’t slack off. Too many penalties and things like that; beating ourselves. We’ve got to be able to move the ball offensively and defensively. We’ve got to get to the passer and help out our secondary. We can’t get gashed in the run. We’ve got to get better.’
When asked why he thought the outcome might be different should the they meet again, defensive end Antonio Smith paused for a few seconds thinking about the question, and then said, ‘We know what to expect.’
‘Now you know what you’re dealing with,’ he said. ‘There aren’t any surprises. This team hadn’t faced a Patriots team in their house this late in the year when it’s playoffs coming since I’ve been here. I think the last time we beat them was in our house. And hopefully we can get our stuff together and win the rest of these games so that they’ve got to come in our house. It’s just another battle; we’ll see how it is then.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|12.11.12 at 2:28 am ET|
FOXBORO — Not much has changed in five years for the Patriots offense in terms of their production.
Just ask Donte’ Stallworth, who Monday night caught his first touchdown with the Patriots since catching three during the 16-0 regular season of 2007.
Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, including a 67-yard TD strike to Stallworth, who made a one-handed grab of the perfectly-placed ball, putting the Patriots up 28-0 in the third quarter. Brady was the NFL MVP the last time Stallworth played with him. And not much has changed, at least in the receiver’s eyes.
“If I had a [MVP] vote, it would definitely go to him,” Stallworth said. “It’s just typical Brady. You see him playing like that, year-in and year-out. He’s been one of the best players in this league for a long time. He works hard for what he gets and he deserves it.”
As for the TD play, Stallworth said it was just “typical Brady” reading the deep coverage and putting the ball where it had to be.
‘That particular play is something that we had worked on, even in the spring,” Stallworth said. “It was just an opportunity where they were kind of flat-footed and it gave me an opportunity to run by the guy and Tommy made a great throw. He put it up for me to catch it and that’s what I did.
‘We had a game plan that we wanted to execute and I felt like for the most part we did. We came in and we wanted to play a 60-minute game. You watch those guys (the Texans) on film all year and there is a reason why they came in here at 11-1. They are a really good team. Today we just played well and ended up winning the game.’
As for scoring in his first game back with the Patriots after being cut at the end of camp, Stallworth said he was only too happy to get his second chance.
‘Just being out here with the guys,” he said. “When I first got signed earlier this week it was really good being back around the guys, being back here in the locker room with the fellas. It’s been a good week. I wanted to come in and make sure that I was prepared. I’ve been studying hard all week and I felt like I was prepared coming in. The coaches did a good job of preparing me. My coach, Chad O’Shea, did a great job of preparing me and we ended up making some plays today and winning the ball game.’
|12.11.12 at 2:06 am ET|
FOXBORO — Practice makes perfect.
“You do things the right way in practice, you practice well, you prepare well and then when the game comes, you execute and good things are going to happen,” Wilfork said of the week of practice leading up to the Houston game. “That’s a good sign for this team, that’s definitely a good sign. Sometimes you need to see that. You need to see practice transferring into games and tonight was one of those nights where what we did on the practice field, we brought it out in the game and we were very successful doing it.”
Success breeds confidence, and that certainly showed on both sides of the ball Monday.
“Confidence. More we play with confidence, the better we play,” Wilfork said. “We don’t play with confidence, we struggle. Make a bad play, it’s not the end of the world. Guys played with a lot of confidence, it showed.”
Wilfork says the Patriots can’t rest on what they did in the 42-14 win since a different kind of team is headed to Foxboro for Sunday night in the San Francisco 49ers.
“With the 49ers, what we did tonight, it’s in the bag and you won’t see that anymore,” he said. “They bring a different aspect of the game.”
Still, Wilfork was a huge reason the Patriots held Arian Foster to 46 yards on 15 carries and a meaningless 1-yard TD run in the third quarter.
“It’s good because when you put everything in the basket and you play the way we played tonight, you look back and you smile,” Wilfork said. “It gives you confidence and doing things the right way going forward. We’re going to have to do a lot more, good practices, going forward. You see that when we do that, we’re a completely different football team.
‘I think tonight, we played well together as a unit. Everybody helped us win. I think the scout team gave us a really good look this week. The best look they could possibly give us playing against a team like this. They did a good job getting us prepared for this game. The coaches put us in some good situations, so it’s a good team win, all the way around. From the players to coaches to the scout team, everyone was involved with this win. We’re all going to be in for this week. It’s a big week for us. A short week but a big week.’
|12.11.12 at 1:44 am ET|
FOXBORO — All week the media hype was centered on J.J. Watt and the 11-1 Houston Texans.
The Patriots answered the bell by scoring the first three times they had the football and didn’t look back in a 42-14 thumping of the Texans at Gillette Stadium.
Tom Brady finished with four touchdown passes and the Patriots reached the 40-point plateau for the fifth time this season and have scored at least 30 points in eight of their 12 games this season.
|12.11.12 at 1:34 am ET|
FOXBORO — Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt entered Foxboro as one of the more feared defensive players in the NFL, and had his name tossed around very early as a defensive player of the year candidate. He leads the league in passes batted down with 15, and has 16.5 sacks on the year with three games left to play.
But on the Monday Night Football stage, Watt went silent against right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, posting just four total tackles (two solo, two assisted) and a forced fumble that actually hurt the Texans when it resulted in a Brandon Lloyd touchdown.
Though he wasn’t a no-show on Monday, by the time his presence was felt, the Patriots had such a commanding lead that his play wasn’t the game-changer it usually is.
‘We played a very good football team and they executed everything very well and had a great game plan,’ Watt said after the 42-14 Patriots win. ‘They came in and played a great game, and we didn’t play a great game, and they won.’
The forced fumble occurred at the start of the fourth quarter when the Patriots already held a 28-7 lead. Brady completed a dump pass to Danny Woodhead on a second down and 10. Woodhead scrambled for 16 yards before Watt caught up to him and punched the ball loose.
The bounce the ball took was fitting for the Texans’ night, as Lloyd easily fell it several yards past the goal line.
‘A play like that is just tough luck,’ Watt said. ‘I came from the back side and forced a fumble and they get a touchdown out of it. Just a tough night.’
The Patriots now sit a single game behind the Texans in the AFC standings with three games left in the regular season. Both Denver and New England have records of 10-3, while Houston is 11-2. And the Pats have the tiebreaker against both teams.
Watt said that, with two games left against the (now) 9-4 Colts, the focus is more on winning the division more so than taking the top seed in the conference. There are now three teams that could viably win the AFC and receive a first-round bye plus home field advantage.
‘We’re 11-2 and we still control our destiny,’ he said. ‘We control everything. We are going to go back and focus on winning the division and locking that up. Everything is in front of us.’
|12.11.12 at 1:17 am ET|
Petraglia and Price talk about Tom Brady, who threw for four touchdowns, two to Aaron Hernandez, Vince Wilfork as an NFL defensive player of the year candidate and what the win means in the big picture for the 10-3 Patriots going forward in the AFC playoffs.
|12.10.12 at 11:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots made an emphatic statement Monday night with a 42-14 rout of the Texans, moving to 10-3 on the season. It was the seventh consecutive win for New England, who dominated the highly regarded Texans in pretty much every aspect of the game: Tom Brady finished 21-for-35 for 296 yards and four touchdowns. Meanwhile, Stevan Ridley had 18 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Brandon Lloyd had seven catches for 89 yards and a touchdown and Aaron Hernandez had eight catches (on 11 targets) for 58 yards and two touchdowns.
Houston. which came into the game with an 11-1 mark — the best record of any visiting team to come into Gillette Stadium in the month of December — was sluggish for most of the night and never managed to get on track. Quarterback Matt Schaub finished the game 19-for-32 for 232 yards with no touchdowns and one pick. (He was relieved midway through the fourth quarter by backup quarterback T.J. Yates.)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
‘¢The Patriots took it to the Texans right out of the gate, scoring on their first three drives and never allowing Houston to seize control. New England was up 14-0 after one quarter — with the first on a pass play to Hernandez, the second coming on a sweet looking deep ball to Lloyd — and 21-0 at halftime, and while there were a few anxious moments in the second and third quarter, the Patriots were in control the rest of the night. New England played like a team that was sick and tired of hearing about the greatness of the Texans, and it showed as they put the hammer down on Houston and gave them something to think about if they meet again in the postseason.
‘¢Vince Wilfork was immense in the middle for the New England defense, continually blowing up the Houston running game and not letting Texans running back Arian Foster do much of anything at all — Foster finished with 15 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown, with much of it coming after the game was out of reach. In that same vein, Andre Johnson statistically had an impressive line (eight catches for 95 yards), but was never really a factor on the evening as Aqib Talib did a nice job holding him in check in the first half.
‘¢While he did display some feistiness throughout the evening — including an awesome forced fumble in the fourth quarter after chasing down Danny Woodhead from behind — the Patriots were able to do a good job minimizing the impact of All-World defensive lineman J.J. Watt. When the game was in doubt, Watt was shut down — he didn’t have a sack, pass defensed or quarterback hit over the course of the first half. And while he remained active over the course of the game, he finished without a sack for the first time since a Nov. 11 win over the Bears.
WHAT WENT WRONG
‘¢At the end of the second and start of the third quarter, the offense got a little bogged down — after scoring on their first three drives of the night, the Patriots had drives of three, four, three and six plays. They broke through with their first touchdown of the second half on a 63-yard touchdown strike from Brady to Donte Stallworth midway through the third quarter.
‘¢Talib — who spent most of the night in single coverage against Johnson — went down with a hip injury at the end of the first half and didn’t return to the game. He was seen on the sideline throughout the second half bouncing around and displaying a good range of motion, but he certainly bears watching when it comes to the injury report on Wednesday. In addition, linebacker Brandon Spikes looked to be hobbled for part of the night, while cornerback Alfonzo Dennard suffered a hamstring injury late and did not return. We also saw cornerback Kyle Arrington limp off after a good night.