|Jadeveon Clowney: Texans defense rattled Tom Brady||01.15.17 at 12:54 am ET|
FOXBORO — It wasn’t Tom Brady and the Patriots offense’s best performance by any means, but in the end the Patriots beat the Texans, 34-16 to advance to their sixth straight AFC championship game.
Brady finished the game 18-for-38 passing for 287 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The 47 percent completion percentage was the lowest Brady has had in a postseason game over the course of his career.
While Brady was only sacked twice, he was hit eight times. Jadeveon Clowney believes the Texans defense was able to rattle Brady.
“Oh yeah, he was rattled. We rattled him,” he said. “Like I said, we had him right where we wanted him on third down, getting third-and-long. He kept throwing the ball and getting deep catches. … Take them plays away, kick return away, we beat them.”
Brady had a 68.6 QB rating, which was his second-lowest over the last two seasons. How did Clowney think the defense did overall against him?
“What you think? OK, then. I thought we did good,” Clowney said. “Hit him when we wanted to. We were getting to him, missing him up with disguise, moving around. I think they were three-for-something on third down. When you play that good you expect to win games. We just didn’t get the outcome we wanted.”
Clowney was used in a number of different ways, including lining up over the center and getting to Brady that way. He didn’t want to talk about if the Patriots could be beaten, though.
“I don’t care about that,” he said. “I am talking about this team. Don’t ask me about them.”
|Snap Judgments: Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman lift Patriots to record 6th straight AFC championship||01.14.17 at 11:27 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The little men came up big and as a result, the Patriots are headed to uncharted and historic waters.
Lewis notched his first three touchdowns of the season and Julian Edelman caught seven passes for 137 yards as the Patriots fought off a sloppy first half and beat the Texans, 34-16, at a blustery Gillette Stadium.
Lewis became the first player in NFL playoff history with a receiving, rushing and return touchdown in one game. Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill also accomplished the feat in this regular season. Before Lewis and Hill, it had not been done since 1965.
Edelman finished with eight catches on 13 targets while Tom Brady was 18-of-38 for 287 yards and two touchdowns.
The Patriots advance to host either the Chiefs or Steelers next Sunday, Jan. 22, at Gillette Stadium in their sixth straight AFC championship appearance. The six straight championship games is a new record in the Super Bowl era.
The Patriots survived a pair of Brady interceptions and a Lewis lost fumble on a kickoff return to draw within a game of what would be a record ninth Super Bowl appearance.
Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon intercepted Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler in the second half to seal the win.
After the teams exchanged a pair of three-and-outs to start the game, the Patriots took advantage of a big penalty to set up their first score of the game.
On the first play of their second series, Tom Brady lofted a pass down the left sideline for Chris Hogan. The Patriots receiver was tugged on by defensive back A.J. Bouye. The 30-yard penalty set the Patriots up at the Texans 35. Brady went to Hogan on the next play as well, connecting for 22 yards down to the Houston 13. On the next play, Brady hit Lewis in the left flat with a swing pass and Lewis outraced Bernardrick McKinney to the sideline and made a cut and ran parallel to the sideline for the game’s first touchdown. It was also Lewis’ first touchdown of any kind since a receiving touchdown against the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 29, 2015.
The Patriots were on the verge of forcing another 3-and-out on Brock Osweiler when a bizarre and rarely called personal foul gave the Texans new life. After Malcolm Butler and DeAndre Hopkins got into a scuffle at the bottom of the pile, Eric Rowe came over and pulled off a player. Rowe was assessed a 15-yard personal foul extended the Texans’ drive and gave them their first first down of the game.
The Texans then started putting plays together and chewed up over eight minutes. The drive was capped off by a 33-yard Nick Novak field goal, bringing the Texans within four, 7-3.
But on the ensuing kickoff by Novak, Dion Lewis fielded the ball at the Patriots’ 2 near the left sideline and made a beeline up the middle before cutting to his right. Once he got past the first line of coverage, he easily beat Novak and the rest of the until down the right sideline for the first postseason kickoff return for a touchdown in Patriots’ history.
It also marked just the third time in NFL playoff history that a player had a kickoff return and pass reception for a touchdown in a game.
With Gillette Stadium shaking with the anticipation of the expected blowout, the tone of the game suddenly changed.
After the Texans punted to the Patriots, Brady led Michael Floyd with a pass a bit too much and it deflected off Floyd’s hands and into the arms of Bouye. The Texans were not able to do much after being given the ball at the Patriots 27. They settled for a 27-yard Novak to make it 14-6.
On the ensuing kick, Lewis experienced the flip side of the joy he felt in the first quarter. He made it to the 15-yard line before being drilled by Akeem Dent, who recovered for the Texans at the Patriots’ 12. Two plays later, Osweiler rolled out to the right and hit a wide-open C.J. Fiedorowicz for a 10-yard touchdown, cutting the Patriots lead down to one, 14-13.
The Patriots were having major issues on their interior line, with second-year center David Andrews getting beaten twice by Whitney Mercilus on rushes up the middle that resulted in sacks and once by Jadeveon Clowney. After a pressure from Mercilus, Brady dropped back and heaved a pass down the middle for Chris Hogan, who hauled it in for 45 yards. But the drive stalled on a Mercilus sack.
Brady got lucky on the next series, the final one before the half. After Clowney blew past Andrews on the previous play to force third-and-9 at the Patriots 34, Brady dropped back and heaved another pass down the left sideline to Edelman. He brought it in for 48 yards at the Houston 18. But after James Develin and LeGarrette Blount were stuffed at the goal line, the Patriots settled for a 19-yard Gostkowski field goal and a surprisingly slim 17-13 lead at the half.
After going 3-and-out on their first drive of the second half, Brady took over. Pinned back at his own 10, Brady dropped back and took a massive hit in the end zone but not before lobbing a perfect pass to the left sideline to Julian Edelman for 26 yards to the 36. That got Brady going. He was 6-for-7 on the drive for 94 yards, including completions of 26, 14, 7 and 7 to Edelman and 21 yards to Hogan before Brady lofted a perfect pass on a wheel route to James White for a 19-yard touchdown with 9:09 left in the third.
That touchdown put the Patriots up, 24-13, and gave Brady his 18th career postseason game with at least two touchdown passes, extending his NFL record over Brett Favre (15).
[For a full box score and stats, click here.]
FOXBORO — The time has finally come for the Patriots to get about their business of making playoff history.
The Patriots will host the Texans in seasonably cold conditions at Gillette Stadium in their seventh straight AFC Divisional home game.
Temperatures are expected in the mid-to-upper 20s for the 8:15 p.m. kick and then drop into the low 20s by the end of the game. There is a slight chance of flurries around 8 p.m. but otherwise, there is little chance of precipitation. There will be a wind out of the south at 7 MPH making it feel like 18-to-20 degrees throughout the game.
The Patriots enter the game having won their previous five AFC divisional round games. Their last loss came in Jan. 2011 when they were stunned by the Jets, 28-21, at Gillette, one of just three home playoff losses in the history of the building.
Overall, the Patriots are 14-3 in home playoff games at Gillette and 18-4 overall at home in Foxboro.
Should the Patriots, who are 17-point favorites in some places, advance, they will become the first team in the Super Bowl era to advance to six straight AFC Championship games. They are tied with the Raiders, who also played in five straight between 1973 and 1977.
A win against the Texans will also give the Patriots 30 playoff win in their franchise history. They will join the Steelers, Cowboys, Packers and 49ers as the only five to have reached that plateau.
The Patriots will get back the services of wide receiver and punt returner Danny Amendola, who injured his ankle against the Rams on Dec. 4 and missed the last four games. Malcolm Mitchell is not expected to play, as he was limited all week in practice with a knee injury.
Commissioner Roger Goodell will not attend the game in Foxboro Saturday night.
The Texans have never won a road playoff game in three tries. One of those losses was to the Patriots in Jan. 2013, when the Patriots beat Matt Schaub, 41-28, at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots were the No. 2 seed that year and lost to the Ravens the following week in the AFC Championship.
|Scouting Report: What you have to know about Texans-Patriots||01.13.17 at 3:01 pm ET|
Everything you need to know for Saturday’s divisional playoff contest between the Patriots and Texans at Gillette Stadium.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL
This may not be a big component of the game in the early going, but it will be before things are all said and done. LeGarrette Blount (299 carries, 1,161 rushing yards, a league-high 18 rushing touchdowns) was able to run for big yardage when these two teams met back in September (24 carries, 105 yards, 2 TDs), and while it’s dicey to try and compare these two teams now to what happened a few months ago, stats tell us that the Texans are still vulnerable when it comes to rush defense; they finished the year 12th in the NFL against the run, yielding an average of 99.7 rushing yards per game. One thing with Blount, as we saw in September? There are few guys in the league better when it comes to executing in a four-minute offense. In the second half of that win over Houston, he had 17 carries for 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It’s not so much Blount’s total yards that matter, but when he gets them. One other guy worth watching will be Dion Lewis (64 carries, 283 yards), who got a significant uptick in reps between the tackles over the last month of the season as a changeup offering to the wrecking-ball approach of Blount.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL
If they’re all healthy, we’re an advocate for the idea of dressing all five receivers and giving New England the sort of depth in the passing game that they haven’t had in a playoff game in a long time. Basically, give Tom Brady (67 percent completion rate, 3,554 passing yards, 28 TDs, 2 INTs) as many options as possible when it comes to the quick hitters; you get the ball out as fast as possible, it minimizes the chances of the Houston pass rush getting after the quarterback. Expect the bulk of the targets to go to Julian Edelman (98 catches, 159 targets, 1,106 yards, 3 TDs), who has been as rock solid as they come over the second half of the season. Martellus Bennett (55 catches, 73 targets, 701 yards, 7 TDs) and Chris Hogan (38 catches, 58 targets, 680 yards, 4 TDs) will also figure into the mix.
Over the course of the season, the Texans were second against the pass (201.6 yards allowed per game), while their 17 takeaways were tied for 26th in the league. Safety Quentin Demps, who has been dogged by a hamstring issue, leads Houston with six interceptions. Per Football Outsiders, the Texans aren’t great at slowing backs in the passing game, which means there could be more chances for Lewis (17 catches) and James White (60 catches) on Saturday. Meanwhile, Whitney Mercilus (7.5 sacks), Jadaveon Clowney (6 sacks) and Benardrick McKinney (5 sacks) lead one of the better pass rush groups in the league. Look for lots of heavy sets with an extra blocker (Cam Fleming) when it comes to helping the tackles keep Brady as clean as possible. For what it’s worth, Brady has gone up against a Romeo Crennel-led defense on three occasions, and has averaged 20-for-32 (63 percent) for 242 yards, just over two touchdowns, no interceptions and two sacks per game.
|Fun Facts: 20 things to know about Patriots-Texans||at 1:57 pm ET|
The Patriots will host the Texans Saturday night at Gillette Stadium in the AFC divisional round. New England had a first-round bye, while the Texans beat the Raiders last Saturday in Houston.
Since it is the playoffs, here are 20 things to 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. Houston has played four games in its history at Gillette Stadium and is 0-4, while being outscored 150-49. It has allowed 40 or more points in three of the four games and the only time it didn’t was Week 3 of this year and they lost 27-0.
2. With a win, the Patriots would advance to their sixth straight AFC championship game. It would pass the Raiders for most consecutive championship game appearances.
3. Since 2002, the Patriots have the best point differential at home at 1,336. The next closest team is the Packers at 1,035.
4. New England needs one more postseason win to become the fifth team in NFL history with at least 30 postseason wins. They would join the Steelers, Cowboys, Packers and 49ers.
5. Tom Brady needs one more playoff game with three touchdown passes to tie Joe Montana for the most three-touchdown passing games in NFL playoff history since the NFL merger.
6. Julian Edelman currently has 68 career playoff receptions. He can move into the top 10 all-time with one catch and needs two more to pass Wes Welker for most postseason catches in Patriots playoff history.
7. Edelman has at least six receptions in seven straight playoff games. Also, he’s had at least 98 yards receiving in three out of his last four.
8. Brady has shredded the Texans in his three games against them at Gillette Stadium. He is 62-for-98 (63 percent) passing for 749 yards with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions.
9. New England is 20-1 in the postseason when winning the turnover battle.
10. The Patriots defense hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown since Oct. 30, 2016 against the Bills. Prior to the Jamie Collins trade the Patriots allowed six. Since the Collins trade they have allowed zero.
|Tom Brady posts pump up video on Instagram||at 11:13 am ET|
Tom Brady is ready for Saturday night.
On Friday morning the quarterback posted a video to his Instagram with the caption: Be water my friend.
|Tom Brady among 3 players removed from Patriots injury report||01.12.17 at 4:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Last year the Patriots had 17 players on the injury report going into their divisional round game against the Chiefs. This year they have three.
The team removed Tom Brady, Matthew Slater and Cyrus Jones from Thursday’s injury report after being full participants on Wednesday leaving just three players left.
LeGarrette Blount missed practice for a second straight day with an illness. Receiver Malcolm Mitchell was limited with a knee injury, while Danny Amendola (ankle) practiced fully.
Game designations will come out Friday afternoon leading into Saturday’s Patriots-Texans matchup at Gillette Stadium.
Here is the complete injury report.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB LeGarrette Blount (illness)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
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