Duane Brown— B
Most games, Brown plays like the All-Pro he is. In this one, he merely played like a plain old pro. The New England pass rush did not record an individual sack on Matt Schaub, but they were in his kitchen much too often.
Rob Ninkovich is an undersized defensive end, but he beat Brown to the outside of more than a few times. Arian Foster did not run well in any direction, including over the Texan’s left tackle.
The Patriots seem to be in the head of the Texans, even the one that belongs to their best offensive linemen.
Ryan Harris— B+
The presence of Harris was most noticeable when he replaced Derek Newton late in the second quarter, when Houston got itself back into the game.
He opened the way on the touchdown drive where Foster gained every yard. But like Newton, he does not backpedal well in pass blocking.
When Rashad Butler returns from IR next season, his status with the team may not be sustainable.
Derek Newton— C
Newton was supposed to be a backup this year, continuing to hone his craft while Butler handled the starting duties. He played well enough in training camp to be possibly become the starter.
But his progress has been erratic, sort of along the lines of his play in this game. Dont’a Hightower kept coming over his side on both the inside and outside. Perhaps by next season he can learn how to move his feet better.
Chris Myers— C+
Vince Wilfork was not the force he was in the regular season loss to the Patriots, but Myers had trouble getting the blocks in the second level.
He has had this trouble over the second half of the season, and the rushing game has suffered. His pass blocking is less of an issue because he knows how to move his lower body.
But when the Texans get over 130 rushing yard, they are money. They need their center to lead the way for focus of their offensive philosophy.
Wade Smith— B+
Smith shares in the credit for keeping Wilfork in check, and played one of his better games of the year. His block on Foster’s longest run kept the Patriot’s DT from getting into the rushing lane.
He has been on and off over the course of 2012, and was a surprising pick for the Pro Bowl. In this game, Smith looked as if he deserved the recognition.
Ben Jones/Brandon Brooks— C
They get a composite grade because once again they split time at the position. DT Kyle Love was their assignment much of the game, and he got but one tackle.
The idea of rotating players in the offensive line is baffling, since it is an area that requires as much coordination as any other. It would make more sense to settle on Brooks in 2013, and let Jones get tutored as Myers’ eventual replacement.