Week 15 Game Recap: Houston Texans 7, New England Patriots 40
What you need to know
QB David Carr was inaccurate with his throws and shaken by the Patriots’ pass rush. His four interceptions killed drives and were responsible for the blowout margin of victory. This game was a slaughter in every sense of the word making it extremely difficult to extract any relevant information.
RB Ron Dayne looked respectable running between the tackles. He was difficult to bring down on first contact. Dayne was easily the only bright spot for the Texans. The Texans have committed to Dayne as their feature halfback opting to use Wali Lundy primarily as a third down specialist.
The Texans’ defense played much better than the score would indicate. Their futile offense put them in poor situations time and time again with turnovers. Giving up a special teams touchdown made matters worse.
QB Tom Brady passed for only 109 yards, but it could have been much more if not for the early blowout margin of victory. Backup QB Matt Cassel entered the game midway through the fourth quarter for mop-up duty.
RB Corey Dillon was the featured player in the Patriots’ offense both in running the ball and receiving out of the backfield (five passing targets). Dillon ran hard with good power, but appears to have lost his top gear when he breaks into the open. FB Heath Evans saw extended duty at the end of the game. Third down specialist Kevin Faulk had his typical workload (five touches), but scored two touchdowns.
WR Reche Caldwell is now the unquestioned WR1 in the Patriots’ offense. Further, QB Tom Brady is looking to Caldwell more and more when he needs to pick up a first down. Caldwell was also targeted deep (drew a pass interference flag).
What you ought to know
Carr had two quick interceptions in the first quarter. A defender tipped each pass before being intercepted. The first was bounced up into the air when DT Richard Seymour got a paw on the ball causing it to go straight up. The second was a deep cross that a linebacker got a hand on deflecting it to another defensive back. The pass rush from New England was so heavy Carr didn’t have a chance. When the lead went to double digits Houston started to drop back more and the Patriots came after him with reckless abandon. Carr was sacked on four consecutive possessions fumbling once. The second half brought more of the same, but Carr had moments when he was able to stand in the pocket and looked comfortable after the game was essentially over.
|RB Ron Dayne, Rush: 18 - 94 - 1, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets)|
The Texans ran Dayne early and often when they had the ball. If the passing game wouldn’t have turned the ball over Dayne would have had a huge workload. He ran with power between the tackles falling forward after most contact. To open the second half Dayne had six carries on the opening drive of the third quarter resulting in his one yard touchdown plunge. He had only two other carries in the rest of the game (ten and 11 yards) as the Patriots did an effective job of burning up the clock.
|RB Wali Lundy, Rush: 3 - 11 - 0, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (2 targets)|
Lundy has officially been reduced to being the third down specialist in the Texans’ offense. He was given only one carry for two yards in the first half.
Johnson had a very frustrating game. When he was open QB David Carr couldn’t put the ball on him, and when he was heavily covered Carr still tried to force the ball into him. Johnson was the target on the first Carr interception that was tipped up in the air at the line of scrimmage. His only catches in the game were short outs near the line of scrimmage. Carr wasn’t able to come close to completing any longer passes. On a positive note Johnson did show good fight when pulling in his short completions trying to pick up extra yardage.
Moulds first target was intercepted on the Texans’ third possession at the start of the game. He was open across the center of the field, but QB David Carr had his pass tipped up in the air by a linebacker before it was intercepted. Moulds was able to secure two short passes working the sidelines at the start of the third quarter leading to the Dayne touchdown, but it was far too little too late. The game was a blowout and the Texans packed it in early. They didn’t bother attempting to pile up stats in garbage time.
Daniels’ first target came at the end of the first half. His other target was Carr’s final interception at the start of the fourth quarter.
There was nothing of significance to report from the Houston kicking game.
The Texans’ front seven did a solid job of shutting down the New England rushing attack. They filled their gaps and won the battle at the point of attack more often than not. However, their offense didn’t help them at all consistently putting them in bad situations with turnovers.
Other than the 43 yard touchdown off the screen pass to RB Kevin Faulk the Houston secondary wasn’t as bad as the score might indicate. The only other double-digit length passes in the game were to RB Corey Dillon for gains of ten and twelve yards. The pass rush wasn’t able to get near QB Tom Brady. He consistently unloaded short passes well before they could collapse the pocket.
|QB Tom Brady, Pass: 16 - 23 - 109 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 2 - 0|
Brady missed out on a quick touchdown at the start of the game when he hit WR Jabar Gaffney in stride down the right sideline at the end of the first Patriot drive, but Gaffney dropped what should have been a touchdown. Brady kept everything short in the game. He completed nearly half of his passes to his running backs and attempted only long pass in the game other than the long incompletion to Gaffney. Brady appears to be building a special connection to WR Reche Caldwell, especially on third down.
|RB Corey Dillon, Rush: 20 - 61 - 0, Rec: 5 - 20 - 0 (5 targets)|
Dillon was the first down back through the first half getting a 2:1 ratio of touches in comparison to Kevin Faulk and Heath Evans. He continued to get touches throughout the game, even though the score was approaching a ridiculous margin. Dillon ended up with 25 total touches on 57 plays run by New England.
|RB Heath Evans, Rush: 8 - 24 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)|
Evans saw extra touches late in the game because of the score and game situation as the Patriots were trying to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.
|RB Kevin Faulk, Rush: 4 - 22 - 1, Rec: 2 - 46 - 1 (2 targets)|
Faulk got more reps on first and second down due to the injuries to RB Laurence Maroney. He got his first touchdown on a run straight up the gut. He ran with power pulling away from a tackler getting into the end zone. His second touchdown was a screen pass into the left flat. The blocking was spectacularly laid out in front of him as he sprinted straight up the field 43 yards.
Maroney was inactive for this game due to injury.
Caldwell’s seven targets before halftime were more than double any other Patriot receiver. QB Tom Brady is leaning more and more on Caldwell with each passing week. All five of his receptions were short passes, but several were on third down conversions. Caldwell did a good job on each to make sure he was getting enough yardage with his pattern to gain the first down. He was also targeted on a deep ball down the right sideline just before halftime. He was able to draw a pass interference flag on the play setting up Brady’s second touchdown pass.
Brown wasn’t able to secure any of his three first half targets. The last one would have converted a third down in the red zone, but he dropped the pass when it hit him in the hands.
Gaffney dropped his first target at the end of the opening drive. He blew by the Texan cornerback down the right side on a fly pattern. QB Tom Brady dropped the ball in perfectly and the ball bounced off his hands instead of being an easy touchdown. Gaffney made up for the drop by pulling in a six yard touchdown just before halftime. He made it an easy throw for Brady by gaining ample separation on the corner route.
Jackson was on the field, but was largely invisible with regard to the New England passing attack.
Thomas filled in for Watson catching all three of his targets. Each was a short pass across the middle of the field.
Graham was invisible in this game filling the role as the Patriots' blocking tight end.
Watson was inactive for this game due to injury.
There was nothing significant to report from the New England kicking game.
The New England front seven was vulnerable to RB Ron Dayne and the Texans' rushing attack between the tackles. They had trouble bringing Dayne down on first contact. However, they were somewhat lucky that QB David Carr wasn’t able to manage a respectable passing game. This prevented Houston from trying to manage the game with a ball control offense.
After getting a quick three and out to start the game New England picked off passes on the next two drives. They followed that up with sacks on four consecutive possessions all resulting quick exits for the Texans’ offense.