FOXBOROUGH, MA (AP) – To hear Bill Belichick glumly address reporters on Monday, you’d think the Houston Texans blew New England out in the regular season – and not the other way around.
“There were several things in that game that went our way, but I don’t think that’s really that significant at this point,” the Patriots coach said in a conference call. “I don’t think you can overanalyze that game.”
The Patriots beat the Texans 42-14 on Dec. 10, when Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes. The Patriots led 28-0 midway through the second quarter and held Arian Foster to 46 yards on 15 carries.
Still, Belichick did his best to dismiss any comparison between that game and the second-round playoff game on Sunday that will determine a berth in the AFC championship game.
“I don’t think anybody cares right now whether he gained 145 yards or 45 yards,” Belichick said of Foster. “It’s more about what we have to do as a defense to handle the plays that they run. … The stats and the score and all that, I don’t think anybody really cares about that.”
Houston lost three of its last four regular-season games to cede the No. 2 seed and the playoff bye to the Patriots. But the Texans beat the Cincinnati Bengals 19-13 in the opening round of the playoffs to earn a rematch in New England.
Offensive lineman Logan Mankins said keeping the team from getting overconfident is one of Belichick’s strengths.
“He’s great at serving up humble pie,” Mankins said on WEEI. “I don’t think Bill’s overlooked any team ever. You know he’s going to have us working hard this week and trying to get ready.”
Quarterback Tom Brady said in his weekly radio appearance on Monday that the Dec. 10 game won’t have any bearing on what happens Sunday.
“It was a big win for our season; it was a big win at that time,” he said during his weekly radio appearance on WEEI. “But this game is going to be entirely different, and I think we’ve got to be able to put just as much preparation into the game as we did before.”
Brady said Belichick is sure to bring up the 2010 season, when the Patriots beat the Jets 45-3 in December in Foxborough but — despite having the NFL’s best record — lost to them in the playoffs. The Patriots weren’t overconfident; they just played badly, Brady said.
“I’m sure Coach will talk about that this week,” he said. “I think that’s a great example. The reason we lost that game wasn’t because we beat them, whatever, four weeks before. It was because we (stunk) in the game.”
Mankins said the loss to the Jets was a learning experience that should eliminate any danger of the Patriots becoming overconfident.
“We’re definitely not taking this team lightly,” he said. “We know they’re very good.
“If you’ve been around long enough and played enough teams multiple times in a season, you know the second time is always tough. They know you and you know them. They’re going to know you’re tendencies, you know theirs. The second time around is usually a dogfight. It’s always a lot closer than the first game.”
The Patriots missed tight end Rob Gronkowski for the December game. But the Texans were also depleted by injuries: starting tackle Derek Newton, tight end Garrett Graham and linebacker Brooks Reed all sat out. But they played in the postseason win against the Bengals, and should be ready for this weekend.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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