The Houston Texans will try to do something this weekend they’ve accomplished only once in their 15-year history as a franchise: beat the New England Patriots.
The all-time series between the Texans and Patriots — who will square off Saturday night at Gillette Stadium in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs — has been tremendously one-sided, with New England winning seven of the teams’ eight meetings since Houston’s latest club began play in 2002.
The Texans’ lone victory came in the 2009 regular-season finale, which they won 34-27 over a Patriots team that already had been locked into its playoff spot. Quarterback Tom Brady played less than two quarters in that game, and wide receiver Wes Welker suffered a season-ending knee injury on the first pass he caught.
Since then, the Patriots are 5-0 against the Texans, with four of those wins coming via blowout. New England rolled 42-12 in the famed “letterman jacket” game in 2012, 41-28 in the 2012 divisional round, 27-6 in Week 14 of last season and 27-0 in Week 3 of this season.
That latest victory came when the Patriots did not have linebacker Dont’a Hightower, running back Dion Lewis or either of their top two quarterbacks. With Brady suspended, Jimmy Garoppolo injured and third-string rookie Jacoby Brissett making his first NFL start, the Pats easily dismantled a Houston team that actually had entered the Thursday night game as 2 1/2-point road favorites.
The Texans, who knocked off the shorthanded Oakland Raiders in the wild-card round after finishing the regular season 9-7, are 16-point underdogs this time around, according to Bovada.
But despite that lofty point spread, the Texans’ miserable history against the Patriots (which includes an 0-4 record in Foxboro) and Houston’s laughable excuse for an offense, Brady insisted he and his teammates are not taking their next opponent lightly.
“I think this is a day-to-day league,” Brady said Monday morning on WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan.” “It really doesn’t matter last time we played them or last year because things change so much with the game and a game plan and players. Coach (Bill Belichick) talks about all the time, it’s not who you play, it’s how you play.”
Brady specifically praised Houston’s “damn good defense,” which allowed the fewest yards in the NFL this season and boasts two game-changing pass rushers in Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus.
“We need to play well,” Brady told “K&C.” “When you look at games like earlier in the season against them, we played well. We shut them out. We did a lot of things that are winning football. We talked about that over the course of the whole season, but none of that stuff really matters if we don’t do that this week. You put together the process and the winning formula, and you need to go out and execute it. If you don’t execute it, you lose.”
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images