|Report: J.J. Watt re-injured back vs. Patriots, could be lost for season||09.27.16 at 9:14 pm ET|
Last Thursday’s game against the Patriots might be the last time we see J.J. Watt this season.
The Texans defensive lineman reportedly suffered a back injury last Thursday against New England, an issue so severe that he could be lost for the rest of the year, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.
Sources: #Texans star DL JJ Watt has re-injured his back and is expected to be out for an extended period of time. Could be the season.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 28, 2016
Watt, who underwent back surgery in the offseason, was held to just two tackles and no sacks in the 27-0 loss to the Patriots.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Fun Facts: 10 things to know heading into Patriots-Texans||09.22.16 at 10:00 am ET|
It’s been an interesting few days this week with the uncertainty of the Patriots quarterback situation as after Jimmy Garoppolo injured his right shoulder Sunday against the Dolphins, Jacoby Brissett will make his first career start against the Texans. It will be a homecoming game of sorts for a number of Texans including Vince Wilfork (his first game back at Gillette Stadium), Bill O’Brien, Romeo Crennel and Mike Vrabel.
Here are 10 things you should know heading into the matchup:
(As always, thanks to the Patriots media relations staff for the help with some of these from this week’s media guide.)
1. With a win, Bill Belichick will tie Curly Lambeau for the fourth-most regular-season wins in NFL history with 226. Don Shula has the all-time record with 328.
2. Since J.J. Watt was drafted in 2011, rookie quarterbacks are 3-11 against the Texans. The wins have come from Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Matt McGloin.
3. The Patriots have won 21 straight regular season home games against non-division AFC opponents. The last time they lost to a non-division AFC team was against Pittsburgh on Nov. 30, 2008.
4. As of Thursday morning, the Patriots are one-point underdogs to the Texans. Since 2002, the Patriots have been home underdogs a total of five times and have won four of these games straight up.
5. Watt has faced the Patriots in three regular season games and hasn’t recorded a sack. The Patriots are the only team Watt has played at least three regular season games against and hasn’t yet to record a sack against them.
6. New England has won 82 straight regular season home games when leading at halftime in the regular season. The last time it lost a regular season home game when leading at halftime was Dec. 24, 2000 against the Dolphins.
7. The Patriots have won six straight games on Thursdays. The last Thursday game they lost was Nov. 13, 2008 in overtime against the Jets.
8. In three games against the Texans at home (includes one playoff game), the Patriots are 3-0 and have outscored them 123-49. They’ve scored at least 40 points in all three games.
9. Belichick is 7-4 against his former Patriots assistants as head coaches.
10. The magic number is 23. Including the playoffs, New England is 166-14 when scoring 23 or more points under Belichick.
|J.J. Watt says he doesn’t know if he still has old letterman jacket from 2012 trip to Foxboro||09.21.16 at 11:01 am ET|
Remember the Texans’ letterman jackets they wore to Foxboro for a 2012 game against the Patriots?
Houston came into the game riding high with an 11-1 record, the best record in the AFC. But the letterman jackets backfired, as New England crushed the upstart Texans by a 42-14 count. After the game, several Patriots’ snickered at the stunt.
Asked on Tuesday if he remembered where his jacket was, J.J. Watt shrugged.
“I’ve got no idea,” he said. “Those were some bad memories.”
“I don’t think so,” said Watt, who had four tackles and no sacks in the blowout. “I hope not. I don’t want to bring that back up at all. Those were some bad days.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|5 things you have to know about Texans: J.J. Watt leads Houston into Foxboro for battle of unbeatens||09.20.16 at 9:48 am ET|
Five things you have to know about the Texans, who will face the Patriots on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
1. They love to go deep
Through the first two games, few teams have taken as many deep shots as the Texans. Rookie wide receiver Will Fuller has become one of Brock Osweiler’s favorite targets. According to Pro football Focus, 10 of Fuller’s 18 targets have been 20-plus yards downfield, the highest total in the NFL. In addition, the average depth of target has been 23.5 yards, the fourth highest in the NFL and the highest of anyone with 10-plus targets. Fuller (9 catches, 234 yards, 23.4 yards per catch, 1 TD) and DeAndre Hopkins (12 catches, 167 yards, 13.9 yards per catch, 2 TDs) form the foundation of the Houston passing attack. In his first season with the Texans, Osweiler has enjoyed some success through the first two games, completing passes at a 60 percent rate (41-for-68) for 499 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Look for Osweiler to try to stretch the field against the New England passing game. Of course, putting up big numbers in the passing game isn’t always a recipe for success against the Patriots, but it’ll be interesting to see him try.
2. Their running game does have some similarities to the Patriots
Lamar Miller signed with the Texans in the offseason, and through two games he’s rushed for 189 yards on 53 carries (3.6 yards per carry). Not overwhelming numbers, but certainly comparable to what LeGarrette Blount has done in New England in that he’s been able to loosen up some opposing defenses, get some big yards at important times and chew up some clock. (Blount has 51 carries for 193 yards — fourth best in the AFC — and an average of 3.8 yards per carry. Miller is fifth best in the AFC at 53 carries, 189 yards and 3.6 yards per carry.) After three mostly fruitless quarters against the Kansas City defense, Miller’s hard work paid off in the fourth quarter when he had 45 yards on 12 carries and finish with 25 carries for 83 yards on the afternoon. Ultimately, it’s not a surprise that both Miller and Blount are in the same statistical neighborhood to start the year, as both have been utilized in similar fashion through the first two games.
|Chiefs wipe out Texans, advance in playoffs for first time since 1994||01.09.16 at 7:33 pm ET|
From the moment Knile Davis took the opening kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown, the first game of the playoff season belonged to the Chiefs.
The Chiefs, who have now won 11 straight games after a 1-5 start, now play the Patriots after the Steelers shocked the Bengals on a last-second field goal in Cincinnati. The Steelers travel to Denver for an AFC divisional playoff game against the Broncos on Jan. 17.
Hoyer had a nightmare of a game in his first career playoff start. He completed just 15-of-34 passes for 136 yards. In addition to the four interceptions, he was strip-sacked in the first half and sacked three times altogether.
After being staked to a 7-0 lead 12 seconds into the game, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith didn’t need to make any spectacular plays. He finished 17-of-22 for 190 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Travis Kelce had eight catches for 128 yards.
The only bit of bad news for the Chiefs came in the second half when they lost wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to what appeared to be a serious knee injury. Maclin was taken to the locker room on a cart after his knee got tied up following a reception.
J.J. Watt re-aggravated his groin injury on the same play as the Maclin injury in the third quarter. Maclin caught three passes from Smith for 29 yards on four targets. The Chiefs took a 20-0 lead on the drive Maclin left the game. Watt came back to the field to cheers but did not return to the game and left for good with 10 minutes left in the game.
The loss is potentially devastating for the Chiefs and Smith. Maclin led the Chiefs this season, catching 87 balls for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns. receptions and eight touchdown catches. In 2014, Smith did not complete a touchdown pass to a wide receiver.
The Chiefs hadn’t won a playoff game since Joe Montana beat the Houston Oilers in Jan. 1994 across the parking lot in the old Astrodome, snapping an eight-game postseason skid. The Chiefs also washed away the nightmare of two years ago when they blew a 38-10 third-quarter lead and lost to Andrew Luck and the Colts, 45-44. The win leaves the Bengals with the longest current streak at eight games.
The shutout win was the first in the NFL playoffs since Jan. 8, 2006, when the Panthers beat the Giants, 23-0.
According to Elias Sports, in 80 years of NFL playoffs, it marked the first time the postseason opened with a kickoff return for touchdown.
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|Setting the scene: Rob Gronkowski, J.J. Watt square off in Lone Star showdown between Patriots, Texans||12.13.15 at 12:51 pm ET|
HOUSTON — In a game where the Patriots might be getting back one of their biggest stars, how they handle an injured star on the other side might determine their success in ending a rare losing streak.
The 10-2 Patriots will win their seventh straight AFC East title with a win and a Jets loss to the Titans. The 6-6 Texans are tied with the Colts for first in the AFC South. The Patriots are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2002 when they lost four in a row and missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record, also the last time they did not reach double figures in wins.
Gronkowski leads the Patriots with nine touchdowns and 931 yards receiving. Both Adam Schefter and Diana Russini of ESPN report that Gronkowski will play in the game.
But while many in New England are focused on Gronkowski, the rest of the country will be fixated on the left hand of J.J. Watt. With a cast protecting the hand, the defensive end told reporters on Thursday that he broke the hand during practice Wednesday.
Watt did not practice Thursday or Friday but worked on the side. Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Watt was “good to go” and listed him as “probable” on Friday’s injury report. Watt insisted this week that he’s played through much worse and would be ready to play against the Patriots.
“People are going to try to make a big deal out of this but I’ve played with worse than this before, even in this season,” Watt said. “I’m not very worried about it My elbow a couple years back was way more painful. This was painful when it happened but it’s football. In the game of football, you’re going to play with pain. That’s just the way it goes. If you don’t play with pain, you’re probably in the wrong sport.”
Former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, who now serves in that capacity for the Texans, was a little more cautious.
“He won’t be able to grab with that one hand and as a defensive lineman you have to use your hands a little bit. We will all just have to see how that impacts him and he is the one who is going to have to adapt his game to the fact that he doesn’t have the grip with that hand,” Crennel said. “We will see how it goes. But having him out there is going to be good, I believe.”
|Scouting Report: What you need to know about Patriots-Texans||12.12.15 at 3:56 pm ET|
Here’s everything you need to know when the Patriots (10-2) take on the Texans (6-6) Sunday night at NRG Stadium in Houston:
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL
Who knows? There’s been no rhyme or reason as to how the Patriots have approached the running game the last two contests, which means it’s anybody’s guess as to how it’s going to shake out this week. For what it’s worth, LeGarrette Blount (155 carries, 650 yards, 6 TDs, 4.2 yards per carry), Brandon Bolden (19 carries, 59 yards, 3.1 ypc) and James White (15 carries, 39 yards, 1 rushing TD) will get the work on the ground, but who knows how much that will be. On paper, the ground game figured to be a relatively good matchup against both Denver and Philly, and for whatever reason, the Patriots didn’t spend much time running the ball. It’s not clear if it was an issue with the backs, or a lack of faith in the offensive line when it comes to run blocking, or a lack of faith in the overall execution across the board, but for key stretches as of late, the New England offense was fundamentally one-dimensional. On the other side of the ball, Houston is 21st in the NFL in run defense, having yielded an average of 114.1 rushing yards per contest. That suggests that the Texans might be more vulnerable than most when it comes to slowing Blount, Bolden and White, but Houston’s run defense numbers have been up and down all year long. There were four games where the Texans allowed 135 yards or more, including an astounding 187 yards on the ground in a loss to the Bills last week. Of course, there were four games where they held opponents to under 75 rushing yards. Bottom line? It’s an offense that hasn’t made a commitment to running the ball as of late against a defense that has been inconsistent when it comes to slowing the run. It’s anyone’s guess what is going to happen Sunday.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL
This is the biggest and most important matchup of the evening. Can Tom Brady (64 percent completion rate, 3,912 passing yards, 31 TDs, 6 INTs, passer rating of 102.8) overcome the fact that he’ll be without Julian Edelman and (likely) Rob Gronkowski once again, as he goes up against the third-best pass defense in the league? The Texans allow just 218.3 passing yards per game, thanks in large part to the work of defensive lineman/all-star pitchman J.J. Watt and his ability to get after the quarterback. Watt leads the league with 13.5 sacks, but many of the Texans do an excellent job of playing off him and taking advantage of when he commands double teams. Guys like linebacker Whitney Mercilus (6.5 sacks) and old pal Vince Wilfork (who is coming off his best game of the season against the Bills) do well when Watt gets the bulk of attention. Meanwhile, Houston will rely on cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph and safeties Andre Hal and Quintin Demps on the backside to try and slow Brady. For the Patriots, it’ll be Danny Amendola 56 catches, 73 targets, 582 yards, 3 TDs), Brandon LaFell (25 catches, 56 targets, 369 yards), Scott Chandler (23 catches, 41 targets, 259 yards, 4 TDs) and White (22 catches, 32 targets, 210 yards, 2 TDs) who will be charged with getting the New England passing game through another week without its leading options. One more thing: it’ll be interesting to see what sort of role ex-Houston receiver Keshawn Martin (10 catches, 16 targets, 148 yards, 1 TD) might play on Sunday. When he’s been healthy, he’s delivered a nice dose of quickness to the Patriots’ passing attack. His working knowledge of how the Texans’ defensive backs operate could be an interesting wrinkle.
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