NFL Week 14 Analysis: Lessons Learned from Patriots vs. Texans

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I had a crazy dream last night.

I dreamed I was watching a Patriots-Texans game, but I must have been mistaken. That is the only reasonable explanation for 42-14, right?

I mean that couldn’t have been the game we were all looking forward to. That couldn’t have been the 11-1 Texans team that many expected to go in and provide us, the fans, with the “best game of the year” against the league’s #1 offense.

Better yet, was that really the Patriots 26th ranked defense leading the domination of Foster, Schaub, Johnson, and the rest of the Texans with a shutout through 2 ½ quarters? The answer is an emphatic: YES.

The New England Patriots showed up and showed off in every aspect of the game against the Houston Texans Monday night.

It all started after the defense gave up two big runs to start the game (one was called back because of a Houston penalty). Following the two big runs, Belichick took a rare early timeout. That timeout officially killed the only momentum Houston would have all night, as the Patriots defense forced a three and out after the timeout.

Following the defense’s lead, Wes Welker brought his first punt return back 31 yards to start the Patriots first drive of the night. At which point, Brady and Co. took the game over. The Pats first three possession looked like this: 21 plays, almost 10 minutes of clock, 208 yards, and 3 touchdowns.

While the Patriots offense continued to roll up and down the field for the first quarter and a half, the Texans first sustainable drive was thwarted inside Patriots territory when FS Devin McCourty picked off Matt Schaub in the end zone. After that drive, the Texans would not be able to get inside the New England 30 yard line until late in the third quarter (despite going for it on 4th down twice after crossing midfield.

The much maligned and often criticized New England defense held the Texans to 323 total yards (many of those coming in the 4th quarter in ‘garbage time’) and 4 for 14 on third down. The most impressive stat though, is that the Patriots held arguably the best RB in the league, Arian Foster, to 46 yards on 15 carries (Foster’s 3rd worst game of the year).

Really the ONLY bright spot for the Texans was the play of J.J. Watt who was in Brady’s face all night and who also had a forced fumble early in the 4th quarter. That was about it for the Texans though, who continued to have defensive breakdowns, costly penalties, and lacked all ability to create ANY kind of momentum—partly because of their own ineptness, but mostly because it was the Patriots’ night.

As Tom Brady—who finished with 296 yards and 4 TD passes—said in his postgame press conference, “We had to see how we matched up against the better teams in the league”.

I think it’s safe to say after last night, we know who the “better team in the league” is.

Follow Cole Stevenson on Twitter: @Cole _Stevenson