The Houston Texans crossed the first hurdle of this postseason tournament by beating the Cincinnati Bengals 19-13 in Reliant Stadium. The score does not paint a clear picture of how the Texans actually performed in that game though.
While their 19 points only included one offensive touchdown, the Texans offense did a lot of things right. It controlled the line of scrimmage, cleared a path for Arian Foster to rush for 140 yards and gave quarterback Matt Schaub a lot of opportunities. With that said, the team still struggled in the red zone, but coach Gary Kubiak says there are a lot of positives to build on in today's showdown with New England.
“I just want to go right back there. I want to be down there that much again,” Kubiak said of the red zone. “I want to move the ball like we did (against Cincinnati). We moved the heck out of the ball.”
That they did, racking of 420 yards of total offense and dominating in time of possession almost two to one.
“I want to move the ball like we did (against Cincinnati). We moved the heck out of the ball.”
Kubiak wants to capitalize on what the Texans did right in playoff game one. “To move the ball the way we moved it," he said. "The third downs, we were excellent on third downs. To hold the ball 39 minutes in an NFL football game. Let’s take those positives, let’s work on that negative.”
The entire Texans team knows it is going to have to conquer this red zone demon if the Texans are to win in New England in this Sunday late game.
“It’s going to be extremely important, but we’re going to stay committed to what we’re doing,” Kubiak said. “Like I said, hopefully we have just as many chances, but we have to take advantage of them.”
Schaub didn’t win over his critics with his performance against the Bengals but a win is a win. Schaub completed 29-of-38 passes, threw one Pick 6 interception and no touchdowns. That line certainly won’t work against the Patriots but at least he has won his first playoff start. Now it’s time to step it a few notches and lead this offense to the next level.
“What we learned and the situations we were in a month ago, we can definitely pull from that,” noted Schaub. “We’ve been down that road. We know what it takes to win and that’s play good road football. We didn’t do that last time we played up there.”
The preparation was undoubtedly on point, it is the execution that needs to take place for this team to win. The last time around the Texans were plagued by turnovers and giving up big plays on defense. Actually, they didn’t much of anything right. I’m sure there was something positive, but at this point suffice it to say there is a lot the team can improve on in all three phases of the game.
There is no secret about what the Texans are facing in Foxborough.
Kubiak was asked about handling the pace of the Patriots offense. “Well first off, we are built a little bit different," he said. "We’re built around a runner, that's going to get his touches, those types of things. We’re built to hang onto the football, control the football game.”
There is no secret about what the Texans are facing in Foxborough. The key will be how they handle it and how quickly they are able to make adjustments on the fly. In short, the Patriots play fast and they’re cagey coach is known to change things up without much notice. He’s what the experts call one of the game’s best football minds.
This is familiar territory for Patriots coach Bill Belichick. New England had the league’s top offense during the regular season, producing 427.9 yards per game, and leading the NFL in scoring with 34.8 points per game. The Patriots are 16-6 overall in the postseason since 2001, including a 10-2 mark at home.
The Texans are looking to play spoiler and prove all their critics wrong. Of course they say the goal is just to win, but silencing all the people who have counted them out certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Remember no matter how slim the Texans chances of winning may seem, they still have to play the game. And when the coin is tossed, the score is tied at zero and their chance, for at least a moment, is as good as the Patriots.
Kim Davis is a journalist with more than two decades of experience covering sports, news and politics in television, radio and print. Check out her website (thekdcompany.com) and follow her on Twitter @kimydavis.