Bruins

Patriots rout Texans, 42-14, in battle for AFC supremacy

960759.jpg

Patriots rout Texans, 42-14, in battle for AFC supremacy

Every time the Patriots win a game at Gillette Stadium, a recording of The Who singing, "Meet the new boss Same as the old boss" echoes across the field as soon as the final gun sounds.

Never was it more apt than on Monday night.

The Texans arrived in Foxboro eager to live up to their NFL-best 11-1 record, and anxious to prove -- to themselves, to a national television audience, and especially to the Patriots -- that it's time for a changing of the guard atop the AFC, a conference the Pats have dominated for more than a decade. Indeed, wide receiver Andre Johnson proclaimed last week that this would be "the biggest game in franchise history".

Instead, the old bosses . . .

Scored the first three times they touched the ball,

Put together their best defensive effort of the year, keeping the Texans off the scoreboard until midway through the third quarter, and

Held Houston to a combined 4-for-16 on third- and fourth-down opportunities, all of which helped them . . .

Coast to a 42-14 victory that -- to swipe a thought from a Yankee fan about the 1978 A.L. East race -- looked like the first time a second-place team ever eliminated a first-place team from the AFC postseason hunt.

"It's a very convincing win against a good football team," said Wes Welker. "And we're excited about it."

Especially since -- for all their one-game-at-a-time talk during the week -- the Patriots came into this one as fired up as the Texans.

"We came into this game with a chip on our shoulder," said linebacker Jerod Mayo. "Everyone came into this game talking about the Houston Texans . . . We always talk about ignoring the noise, but we heard it. We heard about it walking down the street. It was a little bit of a motivational factor, for me at least, and I'm sure for the other guys . . . as well."

The Texans still hold the No. 1 seed in the playoff standings; they're 11-2 and the Patriots are 10-3. (New England holds the tie-breaker edge on Denver, which is also 10-3, for the No. 2 spot by virtue of its October victory over the Broncos.) If the Pats run the table, however, they'll take over the top seed -- and earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs -- should Houston lose one of its remaining three games.

But even if they stay at No. 2, the Patriots made a statement Monday night.

"They feel good about the way they played tonight, and they should," said coach Bill Belichick. "They did a good job."

It started early.

After Arian Foster gained 15 yards on the Texans' first official play from scrimmage (a penalty wiped out a 12-yard run by Foster on the first actual play), the Pats' defense stiffened and forced a punt. A 31-yard return by Welker put the ball on the New England 44, and Tom Brady had them in the end zone seven plays later, capping the drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez.

Houston's only real chance to make a game of it came on the next drive, as the Texans moved from their 20 to the Pats' 21. But Matt Schaub missed a wide-open Foster in the flat and instead tried to hit Kevin Walter down the seam in the end zone. Devin McCourty intercepted the pass and returned it to the 18; Brady then engineered a 6-play, 82-yard drive that ended with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd and a 14-0 lead.

"That was a big play by Devin," said Belichick.

The New England defense forced another punt on Houston's next possession, and that set the stage for an 8-play, 70-yard march, with Brady firing his second TD pass of the night to Hernandez -- this one of four yards -- to make it 21-0.

New England wouldn't score on its next four possessions, but the defense kept the Texans pointless, as well. The horse officially left the barn when Brady and the newly returned Donte Stallworth hooked up on a 63-yard touchdown pass with 9:49 remaining in the third quarter for a 28-0 lead.

From there, the teams traded touchdowns -- a one-yard run by Foster to break the shutout; a Lloyd recovery of a Danny Woodhead fumble in the end zone; a 14-yard run by Stevan Ridley, and a one-yard run by Houston backup quarterback T.J. Yates -- for the 42-14 final.

"I finally feel like we put together four quarters of football," said Mayo.

It was a schooling for the young Texans, and at least one of them -- defensive end Antonio Smith -- says he learned his lesson.

"Now we know what we're dealing with," he said.

What they're dealing with, on this night at least, was the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Morning Skate: Chiarelli taking heat in Edmonton

gallery-peter-chiarelli-52414.jpg

Morning Skate: Chiarelli taking heat in Edmonton

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a rough weekend for the Justice League movie. 

 

*Radko Gudas was suspended for 10 games after slashing at the head of Mathieu Perreault, and it’s an appropriate sentence for a play that has no place in the NHL, and from a player that really deserves to get slapped around by the Department of Player Safety. Some like the Hockey News here believe it should have been a more severe suspension, but this is the right move with a player that’s headed toward a Raffi Torres sentence the next time he crosses over the line. Let’s hope the message finally gets through to a dirty player, but I’m not holding my breath given his past history.  

 

*Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is beginning to take some heat in Edmonton with a hockey team that’s performing way under expectations to this point. 

 

*All Alexander Radulov wanted was to feel like he was wanted, you guys. The Dallas Stars just so happened to say that to him in the form of money and contract years. 

 

*NHL.com does a Calder Trophy voting poll with their own staff and it looks like Clayton Keller is strongly in the lead, and that Charlie McAvoy isn’t getting nearly the mount of consideration that he should be getting right now. This is the only rookie averaging more than 20 minutes of ice time per game, people…c’mon now. 

 

*It’s officially over for the Montreal Canadiens just a couple of months into the season, and it may be for GM Marc Bergevin as well. I’m not sure the Habs are dead and buried quite yet, but Carey Price as a question mark certainly doesn’t help matters. 

 

*Hall of Famers Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne were both honored in Anaheim this weekend after their Hockey Hall of Fame honors last weekend. 

 

*For something completely different: Here’s a petition for fans to get a home release of the Zack Snyder cut of the Justice League movie. These people thirsting for ponderous, bombastic drudgery in their comic book movies amazes me. While I feel for Snyder and his family given their tragedy over the last year, I think his movies are god-awful and can’t fathom why anybody would be pounding the table demanding to see a cut that left the DC and Warner Brothers execs running and screaming for Joss Whedon. 

Belichick remembers Glenn: 'A good person with good intentions'

glenn.jpg

Belichick remembers Glenn: 'A good person with good intentions'

Terry Glenn, the Patriots' top draft pick in 1996, died early Monday morning in a one-car accident in Irving, Texas. He was 43. 

Bill Belichick coached Glenn as an assistant with the Patriots during Glenn's rookie season. He was later Glenn's head coach in 2000 and 2001. Belichick traded Glenn to the Packers before the 2002 season after a tumultuous run in New England that involved legal trouble, injuries and clashes with the coaching staff.

During a conference call with reporters soon after the news of Glenn's death was published, Belichick remembered Glenn for his natural physical ability and "a good heart."

"I was pretty close with Terry," Belichick said, "and his rookie season was my first year here in '96, and so I had a lot of interaction with him and other people that were involved in his life and his upbringing separate from the Patriots. Terry's a very smart individual. Had a lot of, obviously, a lot of physical skill and talent. Could do a lot of things on the football field very naturally. And I think he was deep down inside a good person with good intentions and, you know, a good heart. Obviously it's very unfortunate. Very unfortunate passing. I mean, it's a sad day. Sad news."

According to reports, Glenn was with his fiancee at the time of the accident. She's being treated at a local hospital for unspecified injuries.