It was, to quote Yogi Berra, "Like deja vu all over again." In this case, the Texans' loss to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on the road in prime time was eerily similar to week six when they were dismantled by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. In what was being billed as the most anticipated game of the season to this point, the Patriots managed to live up to their end, scoring 28 points on four Brady touchdown passes before the Texans were even able to get out of the starting gate.
In fact, it was 42-7 with just over two minutes to go in the game when T.J. Yates (more on that in a moment) snuck in for a touchdown only gamblers who bet the over were cheering for.
It was a series of mistakes, missed calls and dumb luck plays that doomed the Texans from the start. First up, a third down pass interference call on rookie cornerback Brandon Harris followed by a blown coverage. Then there was a missed fumble recovery by Kareem Jackson, a bad pass interference call on a critical third down and an interception by Matt Schaub. There was even a forced fumble by JJ Watt that landed in the end zone, only to be recovered by the Pats for a touchdown.
Perhaps most disappointing was the fact that the Texans looked, much like in the Packers game, completely overmatched and outclassed in every phase of the game. Badly outcoached by hoodie-wearing curmudgeon coach Bill Belichick, Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips looked confused and befuddled most of the night. It was never more evident than when New England lined up inside the five-yard line, quickly snapped the ball and threw to an uncovered Aaron Hernandez for a touchdown.
There were bizarre play calls as well: running the ball down 21 after a defensive stop, running on second and long with eight Patriots in the box.
How bad was it? It was so bad that Kubiak pulled most of his starters in the fourth quarter including Schaub, something he rarely does and often refuses to do in blowout wins, claiming the team is better under control with Schaub under center.
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Schaub, for his part, looked out of sync all night long, missing throws and making poor, uncharacteristically bad decisions. His one interception was a throw into double coverage when Arian Foster stood WIDE open directly in front of him.
It was a complete and utter embarrassment for the team in every aspect of play and leaves fans and people who cover the team wondering if the Texans are ready for prime time, literally or otherwise.
With three games remaining, the Texans still remain in control of their destiny. They have already clinched a playoff spot but, shockingly, have not clinched the division despite being 11-2 thanks to the remarkable play of rookie Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, who, by the way, is up next at Reliant Stadium. A win over Luck and crew means a second straight division title. After that, a win at home against Minnesota would give them, at minimum, a first-round bye and the second seed. Three straight wins (or a combination of wins and losses from the Patriots and/or Broncos) gives them the number one seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
So, a loss in New England isn't necessarily a disaster even if it looked that way. Still, losing like this in a prime-time game will take its toll. The Texans can either bounce back or shrink. We'll see what happens next Sunday.