Report Cards Week 15: Patriots - Texans

The New England Patriots dismantled the Houston Texans in Week 15 by putting up a 20 point lead before the blink of an eye. Although everything was far from perfect, New England graded out well. Unfortunately for the Texans, their sloppy play and questionable coaching put them in a hole early, earning poor grades for the game.


PASSING OFFENSE: F -- David Carr threw a career-high four interceptions and never looked comfortable on the field. He was sacked four times. The receivers weren't able to make much happen with the few catches they were thrown. Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds combined for just nine catches and 54 yards. Carr has thrown just one touchdown pass in the last eight games.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Ron Dayne put together another strong performance, but wasn't given enough opportunities to run. Dayne had just 18 carries for 94 yards -- an average of 5.2 yards per game. Coach Gary Kubiak said this may be a sign that Dayne is going to rejuvenate his career. The Texans sure hope so -- especially with just two games left in the season. He is the lone bright spot in their running game this year.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- There was a little pressure on Tom Brady, with Jason Babin coming away with one sack. The Texans overall didn't give up many yards through the air. The Patriots' wide receivers combined for eight catches. A 43-yard touchdown pass was the biggest mistake.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The Texans played well against the run. The Patriots averaged only 2.8 yards per carry. DeMeco Ryans and Morlon Greenwood were the strongest stoppers again, combining for 19 tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- They gave up a touchdown to Ellis Hobbs on a 93-yard kickoff return. It was the first touchdown return of his career. They also failed to execute a fake punt, and struggled in coverage and on returns all day.

COACHING: F -- The Texans looked ill-prepared. They were outcoached and outplayed from the start. Even the 15 scripted plays looked like a mess. The defense played respectable, considering the Patriots started most of their drives in field goal range. There were no highlights on special teams or the offense, which looked as if it took steps backwards.



PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus -- Tom Brady only threw for 109 yards but that's all he needed. After suffering one of his worst games as a pro last week in Miami, Brady rebounded to go 16-out-of-23 and finish with a passer rating of 108.8. Kevin Faulk caught a screen pass early in the game and took it 43 yards for a touchdown. New England really utilized the screen pass this week, probably trying to discourage future opponents from blitzing so much. It wasn't a thing of beauty but Brady and the passing game made a couple of big plays early in the game and the defense did the rest.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- The Patriots only ran for 105 yards on 38 carries. That comes out to just 2.8 yards per carry. The most concerning thing about New England's lack of success on the ground was they had a big lead for most of the day. Even then, the Patriots weren't able to run the ball with much success. Corey Dillon had his second 20-carry game of the year but only managed 61 yards. In a game this lopsided, Dillon should have been able to rack up yards when the Texans defense was worn down late in the game, although that wasn't the case.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- David Carr had an awful day. The Texans quarterback passed for 127 yards, was sacked four times and threw a career-high four interceptions. The Patriots defensive front manhandled the Houston offensive line and was in Carr's face all day long. Andre Johnson caught five passes but he only totaled 25 yards. Asante Samuel had another great game, picking off his NFL-leading eighth pass of the year. The Patriots did a good job of keeping Carr in the pocket and not letting him use his mobility on bootlegs.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- Much like the Patriots passing offense, these statistics are a little deceiving. Ron Dayne ran for 94 yards on 18 carries and as a team the Texans rushed for a respectable 4.8 yards per carry. However, most of those yards came in the first drive of the second half when the Patriots already had the game in hand. When Houston tried to run the ball in the first quarter, they went nowhere. Their inability to get a third and short forced the Texans to go for an unsuccessful fake punt attempt in their own end of the field. Dayne had a good game when it comes to fantasy football but other than that, his inflated stats don't mean much.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Not that it would have mattered but after the Texans scored on their first possession of the second half, Ellis Hobbs closed the door with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Because Houston's offense was so inept, it was one of only two kickoff returns the Patriots had all day. Stephen Gostkowski was perfect on field goals, connecting on all four of his attempts. Ken Walter's numbers look better than most of his punts did. The kick coverage units did a great job for the Patriots, holding Dexter Wynn to an average of 18.9 yards on kickoffs and 8.0 on punt returns.

COACHING: A -- After really getting outcoached in Miami, the Patriots coaching staff was on top of its game this week. On offense, New England ran about a half dozen screen passes with good success. That not only served them well this week but also could keep future opponents from blitzing so much, something the team has had problems with throughout the year. Defensively, the Patriots suffocated David Carr and were very physical with the Texans receivers. Bill Belichick rode this team hard all week long and they responded in a big way. Houston is a team the Patriots are supposed to beat and they put the Texans away early, not giving them any hope. The big win was even more impressive considering three primary contributors -- TE Ben Watson, NT Vince Wilfork and RB Laurence Maroney -- all sat out this game. A great week of preparation showed as the Patriots manhandled Houston from start to finish.

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