Pats expect a different Texans team this time

Pats expect a different Texans team this time
January 9, 2013, 8:00 am
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The last time the Texans traveled to Foxboro, well, you remember what happened. It wasn’t all that long ago.

Or maybe you don’t. Maybe, as a Texan fan, you’ve buried that memory deep inside your subconscious next to that terrible birthday party when the clown never came and your aunt’s one-of-a-kind vegetarian meatloaf.

The game was that bad.

But as much as the Texans might have wanted to forget that 42-14 shellacking, they haven’t. They won’t. And neither have the Patriots.

They just don’t expect the same this time around.

“No, trust me, you’re going to see a different Texans team,” Patriots’ wideout Deion Branch said. “That we all know, I promise you that. They’re a great team. They’ve been a great team all season long. Unfortunately they ran into a couple stumbles but that’s football. Trust me, it won’t be the same team that we played five weeks ago.”

Branch wasn’t even on the Patriots roster in Week 14 for the first matchup. The former Super Bowl MVP was re-signed on Dec. 11 and figures to be the third wideout for this Patriots’ run.

Instead of being on the field for the game, Branch and his wife watched that first game from their basement. Even though he wasn’t there, he still liked what he saw.

“It felt good just to see the guys doing the things that they did do in the game,” Branch said. “You always know it and because I’m around it, but when you’re away from it and you’re watching as a fan, I was very pleased and very happy to see that. It’s really nothing new because we can do a lot of great things if we go out and execute our plays the way we’re supposed to; that type of performance.”

In that wrecking, the Patriots scored the first 28 points of the game. They held Arian Foster to 46 rushing yards. They beat the Texans in almost every statistical category and it might not even have been that close.

But that was a regular season game. This game is a divisional round game in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots have been around before. They remember beating the Jets 45-3 in 2010 and then losing to them a few weeks later in the first round of the playoffs. That’s why they’re expecting a much better performance from the Texans this time around.

“Yeah, we know that. They didn’t play their best game,” defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. “They know that and we know that. Come Sunday we are expecting their best. It’s all or nothing from here on out and for us; we have to be able to execute. If we don’t execute, we’ll have troubles.”

Perhaps the biggest key to the Patriots’ win in that regular season game was the ability to get ahead and take Foster out of the game. Foster had one of his worst games of the season in Foxboro, running for 46 yards. In his seven other road games, he averaged 100.7 yards.

On Saturday, with a 140-yard performance against the Bengals, became the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his first three career playoff games. That is the Foster the Patriots expect to see on Sunday.

“Absolutely. I expect to see the best,” Wilfork said. “Whatever they have, I expect to see it – the kitchen sink if it’s called for. But last week you saw why this guy is one of the top offensive players in the game – not just a back, but a top offensive player in the game – the things that he can do with the ball in his hands in the pass game and running it. He’s a great blocker when they ask him to block. I mean he’s a special player and we understand that. We know it starts with their running game.”

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