That aggressive style led New England to a 12-4 record on the season and helped them pull out a 42-14 blowout over these same Texans in Week 14. So while the exact game plan might be different in the rematch, the Patriots don’t plan on changing their approach.
“You don’t win a war by digging a foxhole and sitting in it. You have to go out there and attack,” Bill Belichick said of the Patriots’ attitude entering their first playoff game. “You have to go out there and make the plays you need to make to win. It’s a one-game season.”
Much has been made of the Patriots’ rout of the Texans last month, and Houston isn’t being given much of a chance on their return trip to New England either. But the Texans are much more dangerous than they’re given credit for, which Belichick knows all too well.
Last time, the Patriots found success in bringing pressure on quarterback Matt Schaub — although they managed just two sacks — and letting Tom Brady rain footballs all over the Texans’ secondary. The strategy led to a 21-0 deficit at the half and saw the game all but decided by the middle of the third quarter. This time around, the Patriots may feature some similarities to that plan, but in the theme of “attacking” you can definitely expect some new wrinkles too.
“There’s nothing [relevant] about last game — giving us an opportunity to have this game at home, I think that’s the important thing about last game,” Tom Brady said. “Other than that, this is going to be a whole different game full of our own execution, our ability to try to beat a very good football team that’s played well all year.”
One new wrinkle will be the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who wasn’t able to play the last time these two teams met because of his injured forearm. Gronkowski made an impact in his first game back against the Dolphins in Week 17, catching just two passes including a touchdown in limited action. With two added weeks of rest, he should be ready to play a whole lot more and make an even greater impact in this one.
The Patriots are hoping for a similar result to the last time the Texans visited, but they also know they’ll have to come out firing in order to produce another win. Staying on the attack is key, and they understand the importance of it. There’s just no time to sit and wait, not if they expect a return trip to the Super Bowl.