Two postseasons ago, the Patriots welcomed the rival New York Jets to town for a divisional round matchup. After laying a 45-3 whooping on the Jets just weeks earlier, the Patriots entered the 2010 playoff game with extreme confidence. But a career day from Mark Sanchez and stellar effort from the Jets’ defense saw the Jets pull the upset in New England.
The loss left the entire Patriots organization disappointed, and Belichick is making sure that sort of letdown won’t happen again this season with the Texans.
“I think there’s certainly a lesson there about the game that we play now doesn’t have much to do with the game we played before,” Belichick said during a conference call Sunday. “It’s another example of that. We’ve talked about that many, many times here, before and after the 2010 season. I don’t think it’s anything that wasn’t mentioned until that situation occurred, but it’s an example we can point out.”
The Patriots walloped the Texans 42-14 just four weeks ago, and Houston barely eked out a home win against the Bengals on Sunday, which may give Belichick some pause. But he also knows how teams can change from one game to the next, which is why his team isn’t focusing much on its blowout win in preparation for this weekend’s rematch.
“I think when you play a team twice during the season, the games are totally different,” Belichick said. “They never go the same way. We’ll be able to certainly look at some of the matchups individually, guys that faced each [other] in the game. As far as plays and calls and things like that matching up, I’m sure they’ll have some new wrinkles. I’m sure we’ll have some, too.”
The Patriots can’t afford to fall to another disappointing fate like in 2010. This season, they lucked out in getting a first-round bye — thanks in large part to the Texans’ ineptitude — and they need to use that home field advantage to their benefit on Sunday.
The Texans are more poised and dangerous than the last time they visited Gillette Stadium, of which the Patriots are well aware. Now, the Patriots need to focus on defeating this new and improved Texans club and not getting caught up in the past.