FOXBOROUGH, MASS (CBS HOUSTON) – Tom Brady is leading the New England Patriots to their NFL record sixth straight AFC championship game and 11th with him at quarterback after knocking off the Houston Texans 34-16 Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium.
Brady, despite throwing 287 yards and two touchdowns, wasn’t the dominant quarterback he was in the 12 games he played this season for the Patriots. He matched his season total for interceptions with a pair and nearly threw another as he felt some pressure up front and the Houston secondary was able
“I think (the Texans) did a great job of playing against us,” Brady said in his post-game press conference addressing his mistakes. “They has some good scheme stuff that worked. They have good rushers and some good guys in coverage, so they had a pretty good scheme.”
The Texans pass rush made an impact as they hit Brady multiple times, including forcing Brady to the ground in the third quarter which brought out a visibly angry Brady who was searching for a roughing the passer penalty from Clowney. Brady was sacked twice, once by Whitney Mercilus, and the other by veteran Brian Cushing.
With the pressure, Brady threw the two picks and had several bad throws which gave the Texans defense confidence that they were making the former two-time MVP work hard.
“We were getting to (Brady),” Clowney said of the pressure they were able to put on Brady. “We were messing him disguising. Moving around….When you are playing that good you expect to win games. We just didn’t get the outcome we wanted.”
The Texans also had a huge defensive stop at the end of the first half, keeping the Patriots out of the end zone with three consecutive stops from inside the three yard line and going into the locker room trailing only 17-13.
Ultimately the Texans struggled to keep the Patriots out of the end zone in the second half, combined with the Houston offensive struggles, Houston could only find silver lining in their defensive performance.
“We had a chance all day up until the end,” cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. “Up until the final seconds, guys kept fighting and executing. That’s what this team is all about. You never want to give up.
The Texans have never won multiple games in a single postseason, and despite an offense that was one of the worst in NFL playoff history, the Texans feel they are close to being a team that could contend for an AFC title. Although they are disappointed they couldn’t be the first team to play in their home stadium for Super Bowl 51 in February.
“I thought it was this year,” Clowney said when asked how close the team was to a deep postseason run. “It should have been this year. Things happen. We were what three games away? Two games away from playing at home. I was thinking about it all week. I couldn’t sleep. I was so amped up for the game man. We came in here trying to get a win.”
The Texans will now look to the offseason where they will have to make a decision on cornerback AJ Bouye who is an impending free agent and if veterans Cushing and Joseph fit into the plans from a salary cap perspective. The team also hopes to have a healthy JJ Watt, who missed most of the season with an injured back, and add him to the potent pass rush in Mercilus and Clowney who had break out seasons in his absence.
“I think we are close,” Cushing said. “At the same time we have to win and it’s just frustrating that we didn’t.”
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