Houston (11-2) went to New England (10-3) hoping to make a statement Monday night. Instead, the Texans were embarrassed on national television and once again left everyone wondering whether or not they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Houston doesn’t have time to dwell on Monday night’s performance. Despite the loss, the Texans are still in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the AFC. On Sunday, Houston hosts Indianapolis and can clinch the AFC South with a win.
On the second offensive possession, QB Matt Schaub was looking sharp. He completed his first four passes of the drive for 59 yards. Houston had a second-and-8 from New England’s 21-yard line, and Schaub tried to force a pass to WR Kevin Walter in the end zone. That was picked off by Patriots S Devin McCourty. Schaub was not on his game after that, and because of the early deficit, the Texans could never establish their running game. Previous game’s grade: C+
The defense avoids a failing grade simply because it got its act together long enough to give its team a chance to get back in the game. Houston forced New England’s offense to punt on four straight possessions in the second and third quarters, including forcing three straight three-and-outs. That doesn’t change the fact that New England marched down the field for touchdowns the first three times it had the ball. Previous game’s grade: A
Special teams: D
P Donnie Jones played well, averaging 49.3 yards per punt on seven attempts. That was the only positive for the Texans on special teams. There were multiple penalties in the return game, and Houston never could come up with any sort of impact play to provide a spark. Throwing out the final possession in garbage time, the Texans started just one possession outside of their own 25-yard line, and even that possession came at Houston’s 34. Previous game’s grade: A
On the very first play from scrimmage, Houston lined up and handed the ball to RB Arian Foster, who ran for 12 yards and a first down. The play did not stand, however, as Houston was flagged for an illegal formation penalty. That perfectly illustrates how this team was not ready to play Monday night. The Texans simply looked overmatched, and they will have to get their act together against Indianapolis on Sunday. Previous game’s grade: A-
Follow Texans blogger Sean Bielawski on Twitter, @CBSTexans.