Reporting Brien Straw
HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – It was a given that beating the Patriots in New England, in December would be difficult. The Pats haven’t lost at home in the final month of the year since 2002. They have now tied the 1968 – 1972 Dallas Cowboys for consecutive wins in the month – regardless of location, at 21 following New England’s 42-14 demolition of the Texans. Photos from the game
Losing in December is not fatal when it comes being a playoff team that finishes the season with a win. The defending champion Giants lost to the Redskins last December, and the Redskins and Patriots in 2007. The Packers were just 2-2 in December in 2010. The Saints lost their final three games in 2009 and even the Steelers dropped a December game in 2008. Yep, a loss down the stretch is not fatal for your championship hopes.
However, if you’re feeling like your true love just dumped you and is never coming back….those feeling are not unfounded. Not since the Patriots won the Super Bowl following the 2003 season has a team won it all after suffering a beat-down like the Texans absorbed last night. In ’03, the Pats opened the season with a 31-0 loss to the Bills, started just 2-2, then never lost again – winning 21 straight and 33 of 35 in route to back-to-back Super Bowl wins. Never, has a team lost by 28 in December and go on to win the Super Bowl. Never. Like Never, Ever, Never. The lousy feeling in the pit of your stomach is a direct result of that realization rolling around in your head.
Teams don’t play this poorly and win championships. But, if you’re feeling the hangover from last night you already knew that – even if you didn’t “know” that. (I think Barry Warner would calling that, “Knowing what you don’t know.”)
The Patriots win was as complete and defining as possible. The Texans looked unready for “prime time,” overmatched at most positions, and worse (there’s a worse?!!), there stars – sans J.J. Watt and Andre Johnson, were horrible. The team was clearly not ready for the national stage and that falls on head coach Gary Kubiak. Arian Foster averaged a mere 3.1 yards per rush on 15 carries. Matt Schaub again disappeared in a Prime Time game. Schaub’s five worst games this season are the five national TV games.
Today, there is no defending any rhetoric from every critic.
In truth, the Texans still control their own destiny as far as the regular season goes. Win out and they earn home-field throughout the playoffs. Win on Sunday against the Colts at Reliant and they win a second consecutive AFC South Division Title. So why does it feel like a trip to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII will require someone other than the Texans eliminating the Patriots – and perhaps the Broncos? Does it feel to you like the only way for the Texans to enter the Super Bowl is through the back door?