The Patriots gave up only their second opening drive touchdown of the year when Matt Schaub hooked up with Joel Dreessen for a 25-yard strike on a blown coverage. It was the start of a trend that would continue all day.
On New England’s first drive, Wes Welker tore his MCL and ACL and is out the rest of the season and with the injury happening so late in the season, it could easily push his return back well into next years season.
The Texans came into this game with the mentality that this was the most important game in the franchise’s history, as it would give them a possible playoff birth and its first winning season. The Patriots wanted to win, well at least Tom Brady did, to try and match their 2008 season record and help decide the three-four spots in the playoffs. New England sat Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren as well as Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk.
Houston and New England traded possessions throughout the first half. On a huge fourth down stop with 4:50 remaining, Shawn Springs locked down Andre Johnson and seemed to create a huge momentum shift going into halftime. But it was instantly erased with a Fred Taylor fumble in the end zone, reminiscent of fellow running back Maroney, resulting in a Texans recovery for a touchdown.
He was hit as he received the hand off because the Pat’s offensive line, again, cannot run block for the life of them. Kris Brown’s missed PAT left it at a three-point game.
One bright spot of the first half for New England was the play of back up quarterback Brian Hoyer, putting together a solid drive in the second quarter. He then came back in for the final drive of the game finishing, 8-for-12 with 71 passing yards and an 82.3 quarterback rating. He showed signs of greatness but could not find an open Julian Edelman to keep their hopeful last drive alive.
Matt Schaub and the Texans’ offense came out and put together a great drive to start their second half, driving 69 yards on nine plays. All was for none though, after the rookie out of UCONN, Darius Butler took advantage of his start for the injured Leigh Bodden and returned an interception 91 yards for a touchdown giving the Patriots a 20-13 lead.
The Texans drove down the field again with no avail, after Kris Brown missed another field goal try. In response, New England kept the chains moving and punched it in the end zone with a Fred Taylor run.
But Schaub, being the competitor he is, definitely showed why he is starting to be considered an elite quarterback in the NFL playing with a partially dislocated shoulder as he continued to get drilled to the ground all day. He connected with Jacoby Jones to bring Houston with in seven points with 9:41 to play. Schaub finished the day 24-for-39 with 303 yards, 2 TDs and a 92.1 QB Rating.
After a three and out by the Texans defense and a 30-yard punt return by Jacoby Jones, Houston tied the game with a 1-yard run by Arian Foster with 4:43 to play.
In response, Tom Brady looked like he was going to make one of his story book ending drives, but instead he was intercepted due to pressure by the Texans line and gave Houston great field position. Four straight run plays later by the, second worst rushing attack in the NFL and the Texans had taken the lead with 1:54 left.
Hoyer came out for the final drive, as Belicheck wanted to get him some real pressure situation experience, and he converted one first down but missed an open Edelman twice on third and fourth to end the day.
The Patriots shouldn’t have played any of their important starters in my opinion; this game was meaningless for them. Schaub and the Texans really impressed me, they had playoff hopes on the line and came out and reeled off 21 unanswered points to beat the Patriots, but both the Jets and Ravens won their games so the Texans are on the outside of the playoff picture this year.
But the biggest thing to come out of this game was obviously Wes Welker’s injury. Julian Edelman stepped into Welker’s spot and came up with career highs with 10 receptions and 103 yards. New England has always been known to fill in key players pretty easily: Cassel for Brady, Wright for Seymour, and now hopefully it will be Edelman for Welker. Also, Isaiah Stanback’s role in the offense could increase dramatically depending on how fast he can learn the slot.
The biggest thing that will be missing of the field besides Welker’s production will be his leadership. “You’re heartbroken for Wes because he’s so important to our team, he’s probably the heart and soul of our team,” Shawn Springs said.
The Pats face-off against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday at 1 p.m. from Gillette Stadium, which I think this is a bad match up for New England. Though they beat them back on October 4th in a 27-21 game, a lot has changed for both of these teams in three months.
Baltimore has a two-headed monster at running back with Willis McGahee and Ray Rice, and on the other side of the ball, the Ravens are one of the hottest defenses right now and have arguably the best linebacker in the NFL’s history in Ray Lewis.
We have watched this video before on 4SportBoston but we will share it again because Ray Lewis is scary good.