Texans must find way to score against Patriots


Texans must find way to score against Patriots

HOUSTON (AP) Another trip to New England awaits the Houston Texans, and coach Gary Kubiak knows what his team has to do to have a chance against the Patriots in the second round of the playoffs.

``We had a rough trip up there last time, but we've earned our right to go back,'' Kubiak said. ``We want to go back and play a heck of a lot better than we did.''

The AFC East champion Patriots trounced the Texans 42-14 at Foxborough on Dec. 10, and Houston gets another shot after beating Cincinnati 19-13 in Saturday's wild-card game.

Houston had lost just one game this season before that loss began a terrible month where the Texans lost three of their last four regular-season games to fall out of the top seed in the AFC.

The Texans did enough to beat the Bengals, but they have to figure out a way to score touchdowns against a New England team that averages 34.8 points per game.

Houston got in the red zone four times on Saturday, and settled for field goals three of those times after the offense stalled.

``Get in the red zone, playing New England, we have to get touchdowns,'' left tackle Duane Brown said. ``You've got to do a better job up front, whatever play is called ... can't settle for field goals. Everyone was pretty disappointed and that was a good thing. We're disappointed we got field goals and that's a sign of a great team, great offense, and we'll look at it and see what corrections need to be made.''

Making his first postseason start, quarterback Matt Schaub threw an interception which was returned for a touchdown before halftime on Saturday. But he shook off the mistake to finish 29 of 38 for 262 yards. Schaub missed last season's playoff run with an injured foot.

He believes the recent trip to New England will help the Texans in this visit. The Texans were 6-0 on the road before the debacle at New England.

``What we learned and the situations we were in a month ago, we can definitely pull from that,'' Schaub said. ``We've been down that road. We know what it takes to win and that's play good road football. We didn't do that last time we played up there.''

Houston had struggled on both sides of the ball on third down recently, but fixed that problem on Saturday. The Texans entered Saturday's game having converted just 15 of 49 third-down attempts in their last four games.

On Saturday, they converted 47 percent of their third down attempts.

The Texans' defense is looking to build on the solid performance it turned in against the Bengals. Houston held the Bengals to 198 yards on Saturday.

``I'm not the biggest believer in momentum in the world, but it definitely feels good to get back in our rhythm, get back to doing what we do,'' defensive end J.J. Watt said. ``We're going to have some good film to watch because if we're going to go up there and beat them we need to play a game like we played (Saturday). Offense holding the ball, defense getting off the field on third down.''

Arian Foster powered Houston's offense on Saturday with a season-high 32 carries for 140 yards. He had just 46 yards rushing in the loss at New England, and is looking forward to proving that this team is much better than the one that showed up the last time in Foxborough.

``They have a great coach and a great quarterback and they have great role players on their team,'' Foster said of the Patriots. ``I have a lot of respect for them, but we can play ball, too. We didn't play our best football up there and we hurt ourselves with penalties and mistakes. Anytime you give them opportunities, they'll take advantage of them. But we'll play our best up there.''


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No. 16 UMBC shocks No. 1 Virginia to make NCAA history

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No. 16 UMBC shocks No. 1 Virginia to make NCAA history

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Senior guard Jairus Lyles scored 28 points, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County pulled off the most shocking upset in NCAA Tournament history, defeating Virginia 75-54 on Friday night to become the first No. 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed.

Virginia entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after going 31-2 this season, including 20-1 in ACC competition.

But the Cavaliers couldn't get anything generated on offense and the nation's top-ranked defense couldn't contain American East Conference champions.

The 74 points were the most Virginia had allowed this year.

Lyles was the catalyst.

He diced up Virginia's defense in the second half, getting the hole easily on six different occasions and making easy layups. He also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers as UMBC built a 16-point lead.

Lyles finished with 23 of his points in the second half and Joe Sherburne finished with 14 points.

The game was tied at halftime, but the Retrievers came out confident and motivated in the second half and built a double-digit lead that Virginia could never erase.

Sherburne scored on an and-one drive and then knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key after a behind-the-back pass from KJ Maura. After Virginia made a foul shot, the shifty 5-foot-8, 140-pound Maura drove the lane for uncontested layup.

A Tony Bennett timeout couldn't stop the bleeding, as Lyles hit two more 3's and Sherburne hit one to extend UMBC's lead to 14 with 14:57 left in the game. Lyles was fouled on a 3-point shot and suddenly the Retrievers led by 16.

A corner 3-pointer and a layups off a fastbreak by Arkel Lamer gave UMBC its biggest lead at 67-48. From there, the party was on as chants of "UMBC" rang through the arena.

It was yet another early exit for the Cavaliers in a season that seemed to hold so much promise.


UMBC: Despite being undersized and unknown, they shocked the world and made history with an epic game.

Virginia: This isn't the first time Virginia has struggled as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers trailed by five at halftime in 2014 to Coastal Carolina but went on to win 70-59.


UMBC: Will face No. 9 seed Kansas State on Sunday in the second round.

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Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

The Capitals may have won the game Friday against the New York Islanders, but now they will wait to see if they also suffered a significant loss.

Kuznetsov left the game in the third period after taking a slash from Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey which sent him sliding head-first into the boards. The team labeled the issue as “upper body” when it was announced he would not return to the game.

Head coach Barry Trotz was tight-lipped afterward on Kuznetsov’s status.

“They're going to re-evaluate him tomorrow and we'll have some clarity hopefully tomorrow,” he said.


You can see the play here:

When Kuznetsov is first slashed he immediately reacts. His feet then catch the stick of goalie Jaroslav Halak which sends him tripping and sliding hard into the boards. He sat on the ice for several minutes afterward and was looked at by the trainer before getting to his feet and slowly making his way to the locker room.

When asked after the game what he felt about the slash, Trotz said only, “Hockey play.”

One of the Capitals’ biggest strengths as a team is their depth down the middle. Any injury to a center, considering it is arguably the most important skating position on the ice, would be significant. An injury to the team’s top-line center would be even more costly.

Kuznetsov leads the team with 28 assists and ranks second in both goals (21) and points (69).