Patriots Notes: Week 15 Postgame

New and notes from the Patriots win over the Houston Texans. A win is always a good thing, but there are some other concerns about the team, especially on the injury front. One more win and New England is in the playoffs.

Preparation Is The Key

"You always sense when he is in one of his moods. He was in it all week. He was constantly in practice putting pressure on us to prepare well, to ask questions in front of the entire team and make sure we know the opponent we are playing. We haven't played these guys in a while. The execution in practice has to continue to pick up. He is very tough on us, especially after a loss. This team responded to it and we will see where we go from here." -- Tom Brady on how Head Coach Bill Belichick got the team ready for its game with the Texans.

Missing In Action

"We'd always like to have all of our players every week. That's always a concern. There's nothing more important to this football team than the health of the players. Without healthy players, you don't have a team. We're going to try to do all we can to get treatment in the next couple of days and get extra treatment and come in here Wednesday and be ready to start getting ready for Jacksonville. We know that's going to be a tough, physical game like it always is against them. We just have to do the best we can at this time of year, but everybody is battling through that too. You play 14 games in the National Football League, everybody has some bumps and bruises at this point. We just have to try to get as much treatment as we can and get ready to go and tee it up again. We know Jacksonville will be tough. They're a real physical football team on both sides of the ball." -- Belichick on being without TE Ben Watson, RB Laurence Maroney and NT Vince Wilfork for Sunday's game.

Playoffs In Sight

The Patriots (10-4) lead the second-place New York Jets (8-6) by two games in the AFC East standings with two games to play. The Patriots would win the 2006 AFC East title with one win or tie in their last two games (at JAX, at TEN) or one New York loss or tie in its last two games (at MIA, vs. OAK).

Big Score A Good Thing

The Patriots scored 40 points on Sunday, marking their highest point total since a 41-27 victory in the 2004 AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh on Jan. 23, 2005. In regular-season play, the last time New England scored 40 or more points was on Dec. 5, 2004, when they beat the Cleveland Browns on the road, 42-15. New England had scored 40 points at Gillette Stadium just once before today, putting up 41 points in a 41-38 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 22, 2002.

Silver Works

The Patriots wore their silver jerseys Sunday, marking the fifth time that the team has worn them. New England has compiled a 4-1 record wearing silver since the jerseys were introduced in 2003.

Player Notes:

  • KR-CB Ellis Hobbs returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to give the Patriots a 34-7 lead. The kickoff return for a touchdown was the first for the Patriots since Dec. 5, 2004, when Bethel Johnson returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in a 42-15 road win over the Cleveland Browns. Hobbs' 93-yard touchdown came on just his second kickoff return of the season, with his other return a 51-yarder last week against Miami.

    "It was just kind of like last week," Hobbs said. "You have all types of returners. You have guys that like to circle people up and get them all in one spot and try to outrun them. My technique is to get it up the field. I told Willie (Andrews) before the play that I'm following you wherever you go and that's where I'm going. I saw Willie make that cut and it was almost like he was reading my mind. I saw the guy to the right and I said 'No, Willie, don't get that guy on the left, get him on the right.' I guess he just read my mind and got over there and hit him. My job was to just break through after that and then we run it all the way to the end zone."

  • K Stephen Gostkowski nailed all four of his field goal attempts, connecting from 36 yards in the first quarter, from 32 yards in the second quarter, from 31 yards in the fourth quarter and 21 yards in the fourth quarter. His four field goals in the game mark a career high and he is the first Patriot to kick at least four successful field goals in a game since Nov. 14, 2004, when Adam Vinatieri nailed five against the Buffalo Bills. Following today's kicks, Gostkowski has connected on nine straight field goals and has hit 14 of his last 15 field goals (93.3 percent). He is 16-of-20 (80.0 percent) on the season.

  • LB Tully Banta-Cain recorded two first-half sacks, notching his second multiple-sack game of the season and the third game of his career with more than one sack. He now has 5.5 sacks on the season, a mark that bests his previous career high of 1.5 sacks in 2004.

    "Yeah, we definitely had a challenge, so we wanted to do whatever we could to get them off their rhythm," Banta-Cain said. "I just try to do my job and, because of the injury situation, I've been called upon to step in and I'm just trying to make the best out of the opportunity."

  • CB Asante Samuel intercepted a David Carr pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 33 yards to the Houston five-yard line, setting up a field goal that gave the Patriots a 40-7 lead. The interception was the eighth of the season for Samuel, a total that stands as his career high and as the highest single-season interception total for a Patriots player since Ty Law recorded nine picks in 1998.

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