HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) – After their Thursday night 13 – 9 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Texans will face another familiar foe Sunday. For the third time in a little over a year, they’ll return to Foxborough Massachusetts to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots.
“It’s a big challenge,” said Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. “Obviously the Patriots played really well yesterday (beating the Saints 36 – 20 in New Orleans). It’s a road environment. We’ve got to be able to go up there and handle the road environment. Obviously they don’t lose too often at home. They’ve got a great team.”
“It’d be great to go into their house and get a W,” said Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus. “What we’ve got to do is just prepare starting today and throughout the week. Go in there, fight a good fight and go and get that W.”
After a frenetic short week getting ready for the Bengals last Thursday, Bill O’Brien is happy about the extra time for preparation.
“We came back and played better the other night on a short week,” said O’Brien. “We’ve got a resilient bunch of guys here. And I’m glad we have a little bit longer week so our guys can get healed up and ready to go. We’ll have a good practice week, go up there, and play hard.”
The Texans are 1-8 all time against the Patriots. The one constant for all those games? Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, now 40 years old playing in his 18th season.
“He’s a great quarterback,” said Mercilus. “Very smart about the game. Understands what schemes other teams are trying to do against him. He’s done a great job of that obviously playing for so long. And that’s why they call him the G.O.A.T.”
“You know he knows everything,” said defensive tackle D.J. Reader. “It’s a big challenge.”
“Arguably the best to ever play the position,” said Jackson. “He’s done some great things over his career. So any time we can see him, whether it’s preseason or practicing against him, it’s definitely going to bring out the best in us as a team. We have to have a great week and we have to be ready to go.”
Brady is coming off a 447 yard, 3 TD performance against the Saints Sunday, a game in which he played his best first quarter ever (177 yards and 3 TD passses). The Texans are hoping they’ll be able to replicate some of the things they did against Brady in the playoffs last year. Houston lost the game 34-16, but were able to hold Brady to just 47.4% passing on the game and intercepted him twice.
“We’ll try to do some of the things we did last year,” said Whitney Mercilus. “But obviously they’re expecting it. No doubt. And also what you saw from K.C. from week one. Obviously they’ve gotten better [against the Saints]. We’ll see what the coaches are cooking up and we’ll go from there.”
“He doesn’t really move around a lot,” said Reader of Brady. “So you go out there, you put pressure on him. He’s going to make plays. That’s just him. That’s the nature of playing against Tom Brady. You just go out there, and you rush hard, play good defense, play tight coverage, and make everything tough on him.”
That tight coverage might be difficult, as the Texans will be without cornerback Kevin Johnson Sunday. Johnson is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks after spraining his MCL against the Bengals.
“Definitely tough losing a guy like Kevin,” said fellow corner Kareem Jackson. “He’s one of the major parts of our defense and in our secondary room. But for us as a team, we kind of pride ourselves on next man up. The next guy has to step in, has to have a great week of practice. And we expect him to go out and perform just as good as Kevin does.”
Slowing down the Patriots will take a major effort from the Texans defense. They’ll also need long and sustained drives by their offense.
“We’re going to have to do what we can do to take what they can give us,” continued O’Brien “We can’t just go in there and pound our head on the wall. We’ve got to try and do a good job of staying balanced. And take what they give us. I think Tom threw for 177 yards in one quarter or something like that [against the Saints Sunday]. So you’re going to do the best you can to keep them on the sideline. But at the end of the day, it’s all about moving the ball, doing your job on defense, doing your job on offense, doing your job on special teams. And hopefully being in it in the fourth quarter. That’s what we’re looking to do.”
Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – Tuesday 9-11 PM CT, Wednesdays and Fridays 8-11 PM CT – on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.