Patriots expect tougher time stopping Foster

Patriots expect tougher time stopping Foster
January 8, 2013, 6:48 pm
Share This Post

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) celebrates his first down during the second half of an NFL AFC Playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald/ Jose Yau)

(APWF)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The New England Patriots found a way to turn Arian Foster from punishing runner into powerless bystander.

All they did was charge to a 28-0 lead, make the Houston Texans throw and keep the ball away from one of the most dangerous rushers in the NFL.

A month ago, the Patriots scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and routed the Texans, 42-14, as Foster gained just 46 yards on 15 carries.

Vince Wilfork, though, figures on a tougher challenge in Sunday's rematch on the same field in a divisional playoff game.

``I expect to see the best,'' the Patriots defensive tackle said Tuesday.

Something, perhaps, like Foster's brilliant performance in Saturday's 19-13 wild-card win over the Cincinnati Bengals - 140 yards on a season-high 32 carries, to go with eight catches for 34 yards and the game's only offensive touchdown.

That made him the first NFL player to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his first three playoff games.

Not bad.

``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,'' a rested Wilfork said after the team's bye week. ``The things that he can do with the ball in his hands, in the pass game and running it ... and he's a great blocker when they ask him to block. I mean he's a special player and we understand that.''

If he gets a chance to show it. He didn't on Dec. 10 at Gillette Stadium.

Foster rushed 12 times for 44 yards in the first half, which ended with the Patriots leading, 21-0. He had just three carries for two yards after that - and none after he scored on a 1-yard run with 6:12 left in the third quarter - as the Texans tried to preserve time by throwing the ball.

But New England (12-4) knew they would have to focus on that.

``Any time that you can get a team one-dimensional, that's a big plus. Every team tries to do that,'' Wilfork said. ``It just bottles up a bunch of things ... knowing when you can expect the pass, you can expect this and you can expect that.

``But when a team is on track and when they are running the ball good, and throwing the ball good, and the play action is good, and the special teams are good, it's tough.''

The Texans (13-4) can be dangerous when they go to play-action, as well, faking a handoff and then throwing. The Patriots know they can't fall for it and leave a receiver open while going after a runner who doesn't have the ball.

They must be disciplined.

``Just fundamentals. Just read your keys and just pay attention,'' linebacker Brandon Spikes said. ``Everybody has a job and my job is to pay attention to the run.''

That means focus on Foster.

He was sixth in the NFL with 1,424 yards rushing and eighth in yards from scrimmage with 1,641. He also was the leading scorer among non-kickers with 102 points - posting 15 rushing touchdowns as well as two on receptions.

``That was really a great example this past weekend of how they like to play football down there - be physical, be aggressive, run the ball, control the clock and really just do a good job of just handling the game,'' Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said. ``The run game going the way they have it going, obviously it sets up the play-action pass game.''

For Wilfork, a key is recognizing when Houston's offensive linemen use cut blocks.

``That running back sees it and he hits it right off that cut block. So, up front it's going to be very important for us to try to stay on our feet,'' he said. ``Any team that runs the ball the way they run the ball and has the play-action and the bootlegs and all the stuff that comes after that, it's a big challenge for us.

``But we've faced it.''

The Patriots, the NFL's highest scoring team, will need their usual productive offensive game to offset that and force the Texans to throw.

They've already done it once, right?

``They didn't play their best game. They know that and we know that,'' Wilfork said. ``It starts with their running game. It starts with Foster. The more touches that he gets, in the passing game or on the ground, the better that team is.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Texans - Team News
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue (ankle) is listed as probable for Week 9. He's ready to go as Arian Foster's caddie against the Eagles.
Oct 31 2:55PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (knee) is listed as probable for Week 9. He'll be all systems go against the Eagles' solid run defense.
Oct 31 2:54PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) is listed as probable for Week 9. Johnson is a legitimate WR1 against the Eagles' inconsistent secondary.
Oct 31 2:53PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Jadeveon Clowney (illness) is expected to miss Week 9 against the Eagles. Updating a previous item, Clowney appears to be over his early-season knee injury. But he is dealing with an illness. Clowney's absence is an upgrade to Nick Foles'...
Oct 31 1:11PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue (ankle) remained limited in Thursday's practice. Arian Foster's caddie is in no danger of missing Week 9.
Oct 30 3:41PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) returned to Texans practice Thursday, getting in a limited session. Johnson was never in any danger of missing Sunday's game against the Eagles. With six teams on bye for Week 9, Johnson is a WR1.
Oct 30 3:40PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (knee) returned to Texans practice Thursday, getting in a limited session. The Texans are just managing their superstar back's reps. With DeMarco Murray facing the Cardinals' elite run defense, there's a case to be made for Foster as Week 9's No. 1...
Oct 30 3:39PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue (ankle) was limited in Wednesday's practice. Blue got first-team reps with Arian Foster (knee) not practicing. The Texans also held out Andre Johnson (ankle) on Wednesday.
Oct 29 5:15PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. The Texans are limiting Johnson's reps for rest purposes. He didn't suffer any setbacks last week and should be fine for Sunday's game against the Eagles.
Oct 29 3:43PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (knee) did not practice Wednesday. It's a new injury for Foster. Coming off his three-touchdown performance, it's possible the Texans are getting him some rest. Foster will be a top-three running back in Week...
Oct 29 3:18PM Read More
Zac Diles - LB
Texans signed LB Zac Diles. CB Elbert Mack was waived in a corresponding roster move. Diles' addition is a sign the Texans aren't expecting Brian Cushing (knee) back for Week 9.
Oct 28 4:04PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham was held without a catch in the Texans' Week 8 win over Tennessee. Graham was targeted just one time on the day, a seam shot from Ryan Fitzpatrick that predictably fell incomplete. Graham has been a very minor part of the offense, making...
Oct 26 4:53PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 55 yards in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans. Johnson saw a team-high dozen targets. He was followed by Titans top CB Jason McCourty for much of the afternoon, leaving DeAndre Hopkins to work on sophomore Blidi...
Oct 26 4:44PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins caught five passes for 95 yards in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans. Hopkins was targeted 11 times compared to 12 for Andre Johnson. Hopkins picked up chunk yards on all of his grabs, and was stopped at the five-yard line on one grab where...
Oct 26 4:24PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue rushed for 42 yards on 14 carries in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans. Blue added a 22-yard catch. With the Texans clobbering the Titans late and Arian Foster having already piled up 173 yards and three touchdowns, Blue got plenty of run late...
Oct 26 4:11PM Read More

More Team Talk