Belichick expects changes from Pats rout of Texans
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP)
A regular-season rout can be a poor predictor of the postseason rematch.
Coach Bill Belichick has another chance to remind his New England Patriots of that less than a month after their 42-14 romp that shoved
the Houston Texans into their late-season plunge.
The stakes will be much higher when the Texans return next Sunday to
the field where they flopped. The winner of the divisional-round
matchup goes to the AFC championship game.
''The game that we play now doesn't have much to do with the game we
played before,'' Belichick said Sunday, one day after the Texans
advanced with a 19-13 wild-card win over the Cincinnati Bengals
Two years ago, the Patriots beat the New York Jets 45-3 in the 12th
game of the season. Just six weeks later, the Patriots had the NFL's
best record but lost to the Jets 28-21 in a divisional game.
It's a history lesson Belichick is sure to review this week.
''I don't think it's anything that wasn't mentioned until that
situation occurred, but it's an example we can point out,'' he said in
a conference call during a break from preparing for the Texans. ''We
talked about that many times before, how other games don't have
anything to do with this game. It stands on its own.
''That is and always will be the case, but it's an example to point out
of how little relevance the previous game with the same team really
The Texans had the league's top mark when the ball was kicked off to
start their game at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 10. But less than six
minutes into the second quarter, they trailed 28-0 after Tom Brady's
fourth touchdown pass.
That gap grew to 42-7 midway through the fourth quarter, with Arian Foster's 1-yard run the only touchdown until backup quarterback T.J.
Yates ran in from 1 yard with two minutes left.
That began a stretch of three losses in four games before the Texans
did just enough to beat the Bengals.
The Patriots held Foster to 46 yards rushing, his fourth-lowest output
in a season in which he averaged 89 yards per game.
The real Foster is more like the one who ran a season-high 32 times for
140 yards and the game's only offensive touchdown against the Bengals.
That made him the first NFL player to rush for at least 100 yards in
each of his first three playoff games.
''There's no question that he's the key guy for Houston and their
offense, but his production also complements the other players as well
and the other parts of the game,'' Belichick said. ''Yesterday I
thought he made a decent amount of yardage breaking tackles and making
the defender miss a tackle in the hole or that kind of thing.''
Starting tackle Derek Newton, tight end Garrett Graham and linebacker
Brooks Reed played against the Bengals after missing the first game
against the Patriots.
''We were pretty sure that Reed wasn't going to get in the game, but
all the rest of them we prepared for,'' Belichick said, ''the ones that
were able to play played and the others (who) didn't. It's kind of the
same thing this time. They have a couple guys that are out, but they
added a couple of new players as well so we have to be ready for all of
One of the Patriots' most important players missed that opening
meeting. But tight end Rob Gronkowski returned from a five-game absence
after breaking his left forearm and had a touchdown catch in the 28-0
win over the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season finale.
Belichick expects many more changes than just the personnel.
''When you play a team twice during the season, the games are totally
different. They never go the same way,'' he said. ''We'll be able to
certainly look at some of the matchups individually, guys that faced
each (other) in the game. As far as plays and calls and things like
that matching up, I'm sure they'll have some new wrinkles. I'm sure
we'll have some, too. It will be totally different.''
The coaching staff prepared last week for all three potential opponents.
But when Houston won on Saturday, Belichick and his staff didn't have
to wait for the Baltimore Ravens to beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 on
Sunday to determine the opponent.
The Texans were coming back.
''We spent a significant amount of time on them last week,'' Belichick
Now they have more to analyze from Saturday's victory.
''They had a couple pieces that were specific for Cincinnati, not
revolutionary,'' he said. ''There are some good examples of things we
can learn (from) that game, but, ultimately, our game, our matchups are
different (from) theirs and will be different from the first game.''
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Belichick Expects A Different Texans Team
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