December is a great month for the Patriots going forward as they continue their streak of winning 20 December games in a row, as well as their tenth game in a row this season. The Texans on the other hand, have to reassess their team and watch plenty of tape to figure out what they can do should they meet with the Patriots in the Playoffs.
The Texans – Patriots matchup was supposed to be one of the greatest match ups on paper. The best the AFC has to offer with two teams fighting for first place in the conference. The game was all but great as Tom Brady blew out the Texans 28-0 in the first half alone.
The Texans got off hot as they had running back Arian Foster gashing the Patriots defense early on the run. Yet an early Patriots timeout proved effective as Foster was held to 46 yards on 15 carries, the same as Ben Tate in garbage time. Matt Schuab on the other hand was game planned to throw early and often, which proved ineffective against a stingy defense. Schaub completed less than 60% of his passes for 232 yards and an interception.
Part of the reason for Schaub’s lack of play is his lack of talent in the passing game, with Foster being his second highest receiver for the game. A few players had big plays,such as Lestar Jean and James Casey, but they were unable as a group to give Schaub a reliable target outside of Andre Johnson.
The Texans defense was also playing below average as Tom Brady exposed their weakness in the passing game. Brady had worked all week with his defensive linemen holding white paddles to simulate J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith swatting the ball at the line of scrimmage. Brady was able to spread the ball around and over defensive linemen hands to record four touchdowns to 3 different receivers, Brandon Lloyd, Donte’ Stallworth and Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez proved most effective as he was often matched up against linebackers who are experiencing turmoil due to injuries.
The Patriots defense was playing together as a playoff team should, which was very reminiscent of how the Texans defense has played all year. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork swatted three passes from the line, as Watt usually would, and held the running game to less 100 yards before reserves were put in.
With a loss today the Texans remain the top dog in the AFC South, but things can only get harder from here as the Patriots and Denver Broncos are only one game back. Other teams such as the Ravens and Colts may also make a run for the number one or two seed for a first round bye.
Next stop for the Texans is to host the Colts at home. With a win, the Texans will clinch the division and have an easier time clinching a first round bye. With a loss the Texans may spiral out of control and my end up with only a wild card spot. The Texans in the mean time need to watch film and correct their mistakes as they playoffs have no room for a team like Monday night.
- Antonio Furgiuele