In The Red Zone – December 12

In the Red Zone

Not the Epic Battle We Expected

Going into Monday night’s game I thought it’d be much closer than what the game and the final score indicated.  Houston has been playing very good football for a year and half now and I was expecting a battle.  I should have known better.

Houston seemingly tends to sputter when it meets up with a veteran team who has “been there, done that.”  It happened earlier this season when they were manhandled by the Green Bay Packers and on Monday night the Patriots made them their bitch and did it in front of a national television audience and many NFL pundits who expected the Texans to go into Foxboro and win.

Silly, silly boys.

The New England Patriots are the big bad bully of the NFL and have been for a decade.  When you play them you better be wearing your big pants and be prepared for anything.  Very few teams match up to New England and without rehashing some stuff we all know who they are.  Others can get lucky or catch some breaks on any given Sunday as well.  How would you like to see the three losses this team has replayed NOW.

If it weren’t for a bullshit holding call and missed field goal in Week 2, a field goal I am still not sure went over the upright in Week 3 and some awful late game pass defense in Week 6 this team is unbeaten.  That’s how close it is between 10-3 and 13-0.

Now that the calendar has flipped to December this team is even harder to knock off.  They have won 23 of the last 24 December home games at Gillette Stadium, including 20 in a row.  They last lost at home in December in the year 2002 to the Jets who were coached by Herm Edwards.  That’s ten seasons in which they have not lost a December home game.

Now lets look at the Patriots on the road in December they are 20-4 in the same span.  How many teams can go on the road late in the season with big games on the line and fly home happy?

Last night you saw a veteran been there, done that team absolutely dismantle a team that made the game too big for what it was.  Regardless of the outcome Houston still was going to be sitting as the #1 seed in the AFC.  For some reason the players decided the game was really big for the franchise.  Maybe because it was the Patriots with the history, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.  Sure they could use the game as a measuring stick but if they did it quietly in house and shut out the hype they may have been able to play their game.

They better hope they learn an awful lot from Monday night because now they have to hold off the Indianapolis Colts twice in the last three weeks and then regroup for the playoffs.

Now is the time of year when you see what teams are made of.  In New England we know about our team, in Houston they’re still hoping to find out.

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News and Notes

The Patriots have placed WR Donte Stallworth on the season ending IR with an ankle injury and have released TE Visanthe Shiancoe.  They also re-signed WR Deion Branch who despite being recently released had his locker remain intact for a possible return.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had his weekly day after conference call with the media on Monday.  (

QB Tom Brady had his weekly Patriots Monday call in. (WEEI)

Offensive snaps by skill players vs. Houston  (ESPN Boston)

Defensive snaps played vs. Texans (ESPN Boston)

Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia says you can’t quantify Wilfork’s value. (ESPN Boston)

Patriots defense is coming together at the right time (ESPN Boston)

Best and Worst Patriots vs. Texans (Boston Herald)

Brandon Lloyd finds place in end zone (Boston Herald)

Belichick doesn’t care about the statement, just the bottom line (Boston Herald)

Five takeaways from the Patriots win over the Texans (Boston Globe)

A game of Texas fold ‘em (Boston Globe)

Kubiak: “They make you look really bad” (Boston Globe)

New England is 22-22 all-time on Monday Night Football.

The Patriots are 11-8 at home on MNF.

Since 1999 the Patriots have the best record in the NFL at 157-64.

New England now has a 7-game winning streak after starting the season 3-3.

Since 2001 the Patriots are 72-16 in games played on Thanksgiving or later.

Since 2001 New England is 43-5 in December games.

The Patriots have not lost a December home game since December 22, 2002 to the New York Jets, 30-17.

The Patriots are 23-1 in December home games since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002 and 72-14 overall at home in the regular season.

The Patriots are now a combined 21-0 in the second half of the season since 2010.  Their last loss in the second half was in 2009 in the season finale at Houston.

New England is 81-47-1 against the teams that make up the AFC South. 

Bill Belichick is now 202-107 including playoffs in his career.

Belichick’s 202 wins are good for 7th all-time.  He surpasses Dan Reeves on the list with the win.

Belichick coached teams are 3-1 vs. Houston.

Belichick is 16-8 on Monday Night Football, 15-5 as the Patriots head coach.

Tom Brady is 3-1 vs. the Texans. Overall including playoffs he is 150-44.

Brady is 13-4 all-time on Monday Night Football.  He has won his last 5 appearances and 10 out of the last 11. 

Brady has 329 TD passes in his career he is now 5th all-time.  Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton is 4th with 342.

Brady has thrown at least 1 TD pass in 45 consecutive games.  It is the 3rd longest streak in NFL history Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas is 2nd with 47 games.

The Patriots are 89-16 when Brady throws at least 2 TD passes in a game.

Brady has 14 games with 4 TDs and 0 INTs in his career it is the most in NFL history.

WR Wes Welker now has catches in 114 consecutive games including playoffs, 97 as a Patriot.  The last time Welker did not have a catch in a game was 12/24/05 as a Dolphin.

His first quarter punt return for 31-yards was his longest since 2009.

RB Stevan Ridley leads the team in rushing with 1081 yards on 243 carries and his 10 TDs are tied with TE Rob Gronkowski for the team lead.

TE Aaron Hernandez had his first 2 TD game since his rookie year in 2010.  He now has 4 TD’s on the year.  He had a team high 8 grabs on Monday night for 58 receiving yards.

WR Brandon Lloyd had a team high 89 yards receiving on 7 catches.  He had 2 TDs, 1 on a 37-yard pass from Brady the other was a recovery of a Danny Woodhead fumble in the end zone.

Veteran WR Donte Stallworth who was just re-signed this week caught his first TD pass of the season a 63-yard bomb from Brady in the 3rd quarter that he one handed.

That was the teams 2nd longest pass play of the season only the 83-yard pass to Shane Vereen against the Jets in Week 11 is longer.

Back up QB Ryan Mallett played the last minutes of the blow out win he attempted one pass to Shiancoe who tipped it and it was intercepted.  The turnover lead to the Texans final score.

Since the acquisition of CB Aqib Talib the Patriots secondary is allowing only 4.5 points per game on pass plays down from 13.7 per game.

LB Jerod Mayo had 7 tackles (6 solo) on Monday night.  

Mayo continues to lead the team in tackles.  Unofficially he has 156 tackles (100 solo).  The team usually adjusts the counts based on coaches film study so in the Friday game preview we will have Mayo’s official total.

DT Vince Wilfork had his 2nd forced fumble of the season when he swatted the ball free from Texans QB Matt Schaub in the first quarter even though Houston recovered the ball.

Wilfork also was credited with his 2nd sack of the season on that play because of the QB fumble.

DE Rob Ninkovich shared a sack with DE Trevor Scott.  It was Ninko’s 6.5 sack of the season he leads the team and Scott has 2.5 sacks this year.

The team had 7 tackles for loss in the game LB Dont’a Hightower had a team high 2 while DE Chandler Jones, DE Brandon Deaderick, S Devin McCourty, Mayo and Wilfork each had 1.

The Patriots hit Schaub 8 times 2 times each by DE Justin Francis, Mayo and Hightower and once each for Scott and Ninkovich.

McCourty had his 4th INT on the season Monday night he is tied for the team lead with S Tavon Wilson.

The defense had 7 passes defensed on Monday night against Houston.  CB Alfonzo Dennard (7th), McCourty (12th), Wilfork (6th), Talib (2nd), Jones (3rd) and Kyle Arrington (9th, 10th) all knocked down passes.

Arrington (5th, 6th) had a team high 2 tackles on special teams, DB Marquis Cole (5th) and LB Mike Rivera (6th) each had 1.

New England scored 6 TD’s on 13 possessions. They also had 5 punts, an INT, and the end of game clock expired.

Houston had 13 possessions.  2 TD’s, 7 punts, an INT, lost ball twice on downs and end of half clock expired.

The Patriots sacked Houston QB Matt Schaub 2 times, while Brady was sacked 1 time.

New England is PLUS 24 in turnover differential. The offense has given up 5 INT and 5 fumbles, while the defense has 15 INTs and 19 fumble recoveries. 

The Patriots were 3 for 3 (100%) in the red zone.  They had 3 TDs.

New England was 6 for 12 (50%) on third down conversions and 0 for 0 on 4th down attempts.

The Texans are 12-11 all-time against the AFC East.

Houston is 2-5 on Monday Night Football.

Texans are 20-26 all-time in December.

They had a franchise record 6-game road win streak snapped and 6-game winning streak overall snapped as well.

Houston was the last undefeated road team in the NFL.

The Texans were shut out in the first half for the first time this season.

Houston head coach Gary Kubiak, is in his 7th season, he is 59-52 including playoffs.

Kubiak is 1-2 vs. New England.

He is 2-4 in Monday Night Football games.

Texans QB Matt Schaub is 43-36 in his career.

He is 1-2 vs. New England in his career, 1-1 with Houston and 0-1 with Atlanta.

Houston was 4 for 14 (29%) on 3rd down conversions and 0 for 2 (0%) on 4th down attempts.

The Texans were 2 for 2 (100%) in the red zone.  They had 2 TDs.

Houston is PLUS 14 in turnover differential. The offense has given up 11 INT and 2 fumbles, while the defense has 15 INT and 12 fumble recoveries.

Next Week

The Patriots host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro MA.  Kick off is at 8:20 p.m. on NBC.

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMichaelsII