Defense, Special Teams Step Up

The Patriots' offense sputtered last Sunday against the Houston Texans, but the defense and special teams units made sure that didn't matter. "The way the defense played, we had the ball on a short field a whole bunch," Tom Brady said afterwards. If the same thing happens this week against the Jaguars, they can still clinch a playoff spot, but concerns about the offense will be a major concern.

One week after the Patriots were throttled 21-0 in Miami, they took out their frustrations on the Houston Texans. Houston never stood a chance as New England jumped out to a 17-0 first quarter lead and didn't look back, demolishing the Texans 40-7.

A lot of Texans fans scratched their head when the team passed on Vince Young in the draft and made a long-term commitment to David Carr this offseason. After Sunday's game, they're still scratching. Carr had a miserable performance against the Patriots, going 16-of-28 for 127 yards. He also tossed four interceptions, was sacked four times and finished with a quarterback rating of 29.0.

"We definitely emphasized trying to get to him and put some pressure on him," linebacker Tully Banta-Cain said. "The corners, they had a challenge with (Eric) Moulds and (Andre) Johnson. Yeah, we definitely had a challenge, so we wanted to do whatever we could to get them off their rhythm."

The defense did its job once again. They not only terrorized Carr all day but also limited the dangerous Andre Johnson to just 25 yards receiving. The Texans' lone scoring drive came on their first possession of the second half. However, any chance Houston had of getting back in the game was offset when Ellis Hobbs returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.

"I gave a hesitation move to the right side just to kind of slow those guys down and make them stop so my blockers could do a great job," Hobbs said about the return. "They have confidence in me. I said it last week, anytime you have a guy out there that they feel can return the ball and get it up field and not cost the team, that makes them want to go out there and block. My hats off to the other (special) teams guys that were out there blocking with me."

Tom Brady and the offense didn't do much, although they didn't need to. The defense set up Brady and Co. in good field position early in the game and the offense took advantage of it. New England got off to a commanding 17-0 first quarter lead but only had to go a total of 92 yards for its three scores.

"The way the defense played, we had the ball on a short field a whole bunch," Brady said. "It was great. It was a very different feeling. We had field position. We didn't have any turnovers and very few penalties. You are usually going to be on the winning end a bunch of times. It was quite a bit different than last week. It was the antithesis of last week, so it is nice to be able to stay on the sideline in the fourth quarter. We all enjoy it. We have to put it behind us quick and get ready for another tough battle."

After dismantling the Texans, New England travels to Jacksonville to take on a Jaguars team fighting for a playoff berth. The Patriots know they'll be in for a much tougher game next week but after getting shut out in Miami, the team is back on the right road to make a run in the postseason.

Patriots Insider Top Stories