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Belichick expects changes from Pats rout of Texans

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Belichick expects changes from Pats rout of Texans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) A regular-season rout can be a poor predictor of the postseason rematch.

Coach Bill Belichick has another chance to remind his New England Patriots of that less than a month after their 42-14 romp that shoved the Houston Texans into their late-season plunge.

The stakes will be much higher when the Texans return next Sunday to the field where they flopped. The winner of the divisional-round matchup goes to the AFC championship game.

``The game that we play now doesn't have much to do with the game we played before,'' Belichick said Sunday, one day after the Texans advanced with a 19-13 wild-card win over the Cincinnati Bengals

Two years ago, the Patriots beat the New York Jets 45-3 in the 12th game of the season. Just six weeks later, the Patriots had the NFL's best record but lost to the Jets 28-21 in a divisional game.

It's a history lesson Belichick is sure to review this week.

``I don't think it's anything that wasn't mentioned until that situation occurred, but it's an example we can point out,'' he said in a conference call during a break from preparing for the Texans. ``We talked about that many times before, how other games don't have anything to do with this game. It stands on its own.

``That is and always will be the case, but it's an example to point out of how little relevance the previous game with the same team really does have.''

The Texans had the league's top mark when the ball was kicked off to start their game at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 10. But less than six minutes into the second quarter, they trailed 28-0 after Tom Brady's fourth touchdown pass.

That gap grew to 42-7 midway through the fourth quarter, with Arian Foster's 1-yard run the only touchdown until backup quarterback T.J. Yates ran in from 1 yard with two minutes left.

That began a stretch of three losses in four games before the Texans did just enough to beat the Bengals.

The Patriots held Foster to 46 yards rushing, his fourth-lowest output in a season in which he averaged 89 yards per game.

The real Foster is more like the one who ran a season-high 32 times for 140 yards and the game's only offensive touchdown against the Bengals. That made him the first NFL player to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his first three playoff games.

``There's no question that he's the key guy for Houston and their offense, but his production also complements the other players as well and the other parts of the game,'' Belichick said. ``Yesterday I thought he made a decent amount of yardage breaking tackles and making the defender miss a tackle in the hole or that kind of thing.''

Starting tackle Derek Newton, tight end Garrett Graham and linebacker Brooks Reed played against the Bengals after missing the first game against the Patriots.

``We were pretty sure that Reed wasn't going to get in the game, but all the rest of them we prepared for,'' Belichick said, ``the ones that were able to play played and the others (who) didn't. It's kind of the same thing this time. They have a couple guys that are out, but they added a couple of new players as well so we have to be ready for all of them.''

One of the Patriots' most important players missed that opening meeting. But tight end Rob Gronkowski returned from a five-game absence after breaking his left forearm and had a touchdown catch in the 28-0 win over the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season finale.

Belichick expects many more changes than just the personnel.

``When you play a team twice during the season, the games are totally different. They never go the same way,'' he said. ``We'll be able to certainly look at some of the matchups individually, guys that faced each (other) in the game. As far as plays and calls and things like that matching up, I'm sure they'll have some new wrinkles. I'm sure we'll have some, too. It will be totally different.''

The coaching staff prepared last week for all three potential opponents.

But when Houston won on Saturday, Belichick and his staff didn't have to wait for the Baltimore Ravens to beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 on Sunday to determine the opponent.

The Texans were coming back.

``We spent a significant amount of time on them last week,'' Belichick said.

Now they have more to analyze from Saturday's victory.

``They had a couple pieces that were specific for Cincinnati, not revolutionary,'' he said. ``There are some good examples of things we can learn (from) that game, but, ultimately, our game, our matchups are different (from) theirs and will be different from the first game.''

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Joe Gibbs told Ron Rivera that Dan Snyder was never 'an interference' while he coached the Redskins

Joe Gibbs told Ron Rivera that Dan Snyder was never 'an interference' while he coached the Redskins

New Redskins head coach Ron Rivera did plenty of research before accepting the job earlier this month.

Rivera spent 30-35 hours with Redskins owner Dan Snyder before agreeing to be the ninth head coach of the owner's tenure. Additionally, he reached out to legendary Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs, and ended up spending several hours talking with him prior to accepting the job. The two originally spoke on the phone, before the three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach invited Rivera over to his home in Charlotte last month to discuss even further.

On Tuesday, Gibbs spoke on the Carol Maloney show, where he revealed some of the topics he spoke with Rivera about. One of those included the involvement of Snyder, who Gibbs spoke glowingly about.

"Where I felt like I could help the most was telling [Rivera] what it was like working with Dan," Gibbs said. "When I was there, Dan did every single thing he could do to help us win and was never, in any way, an interference. He was always trying to help in every single way he could."

Additionally, Gibbs raved about the Redskins fanbase. He explained to Rivera that fans in D.C. understand football, have been following the team forever, and are some of the most passionate in the sport.

"The other thing I could do, I felt like, was tell him about what it's like coaching in the greatest city in the world with the greatest fans in the world," Gibbs said. "I did tell him I thought it was the greatest job in the NFL."

Gibbs told Maloney that he hates making predictions, but had a strong one about the future of the Redskins fanbase.

"I think our fan base will come roaring back," Gibbs said. "I think [FedEx Field] will be full of Burgundy and Gold. They're going to be cheering their guts out."

When asked if he believed Rivera was the right man to lead the Redskins, Gibbs explained he was thrilled by the hire.

"He was certainly a great choice," Gibbs said. "[He was] Coach of the Year twice, put a team into the Super Bowl. And I think he's kind of a man's man. I think he can talk to the players. And I think he's proven that he can get the job done."

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Gerardo Parra promises the Nationals will return to the postseason

Gerardo Parra promises the Nationals will return to the postseason

Gerardo Parra will be in Japan for the 2020 baseball season, but that hasn't stopped him from promising big things from his former team. 

In an exclusive interview with the Nationals Talk podcast Parra promised that the Nationals will make a playoff run this season.

"I promise you these guys go to the playoffs this year too because these guys have a great heart. I know Rendon is not there but this is baseball and this is a great team."

His message for his former teammates is simple, "don’t lose the emotion, don’t lose the goofy we have right now in the clubhouse… we worked a lot to do that."

Want more Nationals interviews? Listen to the full podcast here:

Parra told Nationals Talk that he is so grateful for his time with the team and in the city. 

As the interview wrapped up, he asked if he could have a moment to say something directly to fans. 

He thanked D.C. and everyone who supported the team during this unforgettable season. He hopes fans do not forget how a children's song brought a whole city together, sports fan or not.  
 
 "Enjoy the moment," said Parra. "And baby shark never forget." 

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