Patriots 41, Texans 28

Don't blame Matt Schaub for this mess: Belichick, Brady mock Texans defense in New England

Don't blame Matt Schaub for this mess: Belichick, Brady mock Texans defense in New England

Schaub Foster Patriots
Arian Foster and Matt Schaub watched the Texans blow more chances in New England. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Texans Patriots
Rookie DeVier Posey's predicament on this play typifies the Texans second half in New England. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Schaub Foster Patriots
Texans Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When Tom Brady hits Shane Vereen — yes, Shane "freaking" Vereen — for the touchdown that makes it 38-13, Matt Schaub hardly looks like he's excited to get back in the game.

Schaub grabs his helmet like he's a construction worker being ordered to punch back in. Much too soon for his liking.

But make no mistake, this nightmare in New England, is not on Matt Schaub. This repeat of the Monday Night meltdown is not about the Houston Texans quarterback.

At least, it shouldn't be. The New England Patriots do not roll to a giant lead over the Texans in a way that none of the other playoff victors could roll this weekend (someone forgot to remind the Texans that playoffs are supposed to be tough all game), on the way to a 41-28 win, because Schaub isn't big game tough enough.

You can say the frantic fourth quarter comeback attempt — after they are down 25 points — is typical Texans. But it also shows what Schaub can do.

Sure, his third quarter interception — a pass delivered right on the money to Patriots defensive lineman Rob Ninkovich is as ugly as ugly gets. But Schaub is the one who gives the Texans a chance in the first half. And even when he seems to fail Body Language 101 after that Brady bomb, he comes right back and hits rookie DeVier Posey for a 25-yard touchdown.

You can say the frantic fourth quarter comeback attempt — after they are down 25 points — is typical Texans. But it also shows what Schaub can do when the offense is loosened up and he's given a chance.

James Casey could have given him a better one early too. Instead, the Sure Hands Man drops a potential touchdown on the Texans' first series. It's hardly the last Texans drop of the day.

No Matt Schaub doesn't come close to blowing this game.

 They have hit a brick wall at the point where good teams become potential champions.  

The Texans' vaunted defense does by acting like they are bullfighters instead of Bulls On Parade, waving Patriot after Patriot right on by. Including Shane "freaking" Vereen. Its lack of another big-play receiver does (even if Posey gives a little glimmer of hope there).

J.J. Watt, Connor Barwin, Johnathan Jospeh and company trudge off Gillette Stadium on a rather balmy New England day, second round losers for the second straight year, because they cannot rise to the occasion. It's hard to call a 13-5 season a failure. But the Texans are clearly stuck in the mud.

They have hit a brick wall at the point where good teams become potential champions. 

Last January in Baltimore, the defense could have hardly played better, goal line stand and all. This day in New England? Wade Phillips' unit could have hardly played worse.

The Bulls give up almost 500 yards — 344 yards and three touchdowns to a virtually spotless Brady, 131 yards and eight catches to Wes Welker and 124 total yards . . . to Shane Vereen.

Any questions?

About that Matt Schaub Offense

It's hard to call the Texans offensive gameplan timid.

Schaub throws to Andre Johnson on first down after first down. He tries to attack.

 There is being Texans' aggressive. Then there's being Patriots' aggressive. 

On a third-and-12 at midfield in the second quarter, with the Texans still trailing the Patriots only 10-3, Schaub does check down to a meaningless five-yard pass to Owen Daniels when he appears to have more time. Moments later, Brady shows Schaub and the Texans how it's done, rifling a 13-yard strike to Welker on third-and-11, deep in his own territory.

There is being Texans' aggressive. Then there's being Patriots' aggressive.

You want Patriots' aggressive?

That's Welker setting a career-high for playoff receiving yards — with 3:38 still left in the first half.

Still, the Texans find their guts, throwing the ball rather than being content with a 17-10 halftime deficit when they take over on their own 38-yard line with only 24 seconds left in the first half.

Schaub hits Casey for nine yards, Owen Daniels for 11 and Daniels again for five and Shayne Graham is suddenly running out onto the field to boom in a 55-yard field goal as time expires in the first half.

Then, the defense gives it all away. The Patriots get the kickoff to start the second half and drive 69 yards in seven plays for a critical, crushing touchdown. That's as Easy Bake Oven easy. 

When Wade Phillips' Bulls On Parade take something away, the Patriots find something else. Suddenly Brady starts highlighting his running backs in the passing game, befuddling Houston.

Stevan Ridley goes downfield for a 13-yard completion and Vereen becomes a featured back in the offense. The second-year tailback comes in with 251 rushing yards for the season. He gets 85 yards in the first half of a playoff game.

That's Belichick.

The Texans do not get that aggressive until it's too late. When Schaub really lets it loose and throws for two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the last 11:35 of the game.

If only Schaub had a better chance. If only the Bulls On Parade gave him one.