Patriots 41, Texans 28: Offense Turns Offensive On Big Stage. Again.
Check out our photos from the final Houston Texans watch parties of the year.
Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher Despite Arian Foster's work, it just wasn't the Texans' day.
Ignore the main box score numbers. Forget the 425 total yards for Houston and the 28 points. Same for the 41 placed in the New England column.
In the big picture, it's more of the same. Gary Kubiak, Matt Schaub and the Houston offense shoulder the majority of blame in yet another crucial game, this time a season-ending defeat in the divisional round of the playoffs at the hands of the hated Patriots.
More depressingly, it's time to wonder whether the Texans (13-5) can ever truly contend for a Super Bowl under the current regime and system.
With the game on the line -- that is, before Houston trailed, 38-13, in the fourth quarter -- the offense mustered a mere 13 points. Of those 13, six came courtesy of other-worldly special teams efforts in the form of a 94-yard kickoff return from Danieal Manning and a career-long, 55-yard field goal from Shayne Graham.
In other words, the offense effectively put up seven meaningful points against Tom Brady in Foxboro. And that lone touchdown came after a Manning return and subsequent penalty set up the Texans in New England territory.
That's not good enough to win in the modern NFL.
"I think we're gonna go back and be really disappointed in our opportunities to make plays," said Kubiak, referring to his offense.
The Texans put up a fight in the fourth quarter with 15 points, but make no mistake about it: The Patriots were happy to exchange yards for time taken off the clock. The Texans needed quick strikes to mount a serious challenge, and they couldn't do it.
Lacking both explosive plays, time-consuming drives
In the first three-plus quarters, Brady's Patriots had three pass plays of more than 30 yards, two of which went for over 40. They also had three passing touchdowns and no turnovers. The Texans? None in the positive categories and one back-breaking Schaub interception.
Of course, the Texans will tell you that they believe in a "ball control," run-oriented offense. That didn't work, either. With the exception of the one touchdown drive, the run blocking was generally pathetic and the offense couldn't convert third downs (1-of-9 in the first three quarters).
Not a single Houston drive lasted more than seven plays until midway through the third quarter. That gave Brady numerous opportunities, and he eventually cashed in, especially when the defense became noticeably fatigued.
One way the Patriots caught the Texans defense off guard was by pushing the tempo and finding mismatches. On the other side, the Texans were so unequipped to play a hurry-up style that even when down 18 in the fourth quarter, it took them nearly five minutes to march down the field, with the team wasting countless seconds to huddle and deliver instructions.