Texans vs. Patriots Take 2: Just as Bad the Second Time
USA TODAY Sports
The matchup of the year turned into the beat-down of the year.
And it wasn't as close as that looks.
How did the Patriots roll the Texans so easily?
A second look at the tape reveals all.
The Real Story
42-14 doesn't exactly lend itself to subtlety, so let's not pretend there are new revelations to be found from watching the film again.
However, the sense that New England was just vastly superior to the Texans isn't the whole story.
Houston did some things well, but ultimately made too many mistakes to hang with New England on a good night.
J.J. Watt was dominant again despite not picking up any sacks or bat-downs. He was active in the run game and hit Tom Brady several times.
The Texans were just a half-step slow all game at getting to Brady. The result was lots of big hits, but few sacks or game-changing plays. If it's any consolation, he'll feel the effects all week from getting repeatedly pounded in the ribs.
Honestly, it's no surprise the Patriots hung 42 on the Texans. That's not far off from what was predicted pregame.
If Houston has something to worry about, it's why the offense was unable to generate more points.
The Patriots were content to let Matt Schaub throw downfield to Lestar Jean and Kevin Walter, as long as Andre Johnson didn't get loose.
Schaub was not up to the task on this particular night. The Texans needed him to match Brady throw-for-throw, and he didn't come close.
Watt had another huge game, and his lack of tangible numbers shouldn't fool anyone into thinking he played poorly.
Johnson was again the dominant offensive figure for the Texans. He averaged fewer than 12 yards a catch, however, as the Patriots kept him in front of them.
Glover Quin, Danieal Manning, Johnathan Joseph and virtually everyone else in the secondary had terrible nights. The Texans loved single-coverage all night, and Brady made use of it to crush them. With Joseph nursing a bad hamstring, the Texans just didn't have the caliber of secondary to cover the Patriots receivers.
Kevin Walter was a virtual non-factor except when he was dropping fourth-down passes. Given how much the Texans needed to throw, his cloak of invisibility was unwelcome.
Schaub's interception was the kind of big mistake the Texans just couldn't afford.
In a blowout, there aren't a lot of plays that potentially swing the game, but obviously the Patriots' fumble on the first drive stands out.
Manning made one of his few positive plays of the game by stripping Stevan Ridley near the goal line, but the ball bounced backward toward the sideline.
Kareem Jackson failed to recover the ball, and Aaron Hernandez scooped it up instead.
On the next play, Brady hit Hernandez for a seven-yard touchdown, and the Texans would never be tied again.
Gary Kubiak made the right call on two fourth-down conversion attempts in the second quarter.
Neither were successful, but with his team already trailing 21-0, field goals wouldn't have helped.
Kubiak took heat for punting on 4th-and-1 from his own 39 with 12 minutes to play. It was an odd decision given that his team trailed 35-7 at the time.
Keep an Eye on...
There's nothing wrong with the Houston pass rush, but their high-risk, high-reward tactics in the secondary will be tested by the Colts.
Indianapolis looks to go deep on nearly every play. The Texans are going to have to do a better job on the back end if they want to score a victory in Week 15.
If they do get that win, they'll likely be back on track for the No. 1 seed.
The Texans have burned their cushion in the conference standings, but that's what cushions are for.
Look for the Texans to come out angry against Indy and put up a double-digit win to right the ship.
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