It’s all over, the fat lady is singing. The Patriots continue their Belichick-era playoff success by crusing to a 41-28 victory over the Texans, securing their place in the AFC Championship Game against the Ravens. This will mark the third match-up against the Ravens in the playoffs since 2009, in which the Patriots have gone 1-1.
Tonight’s game was a true team effort on the part of the Patriots, with great performances on both sides of the ball. QB Tom Brady surpassed his boyhood idol Joe Montana as the winningest quarterback in postseason play, and tonight went 25-for-40 while racking up 344 yards and 3 touchdowns. WR Wes Welker had a heck of a day, pulling in 8 receptions for 131 yards, and TE Aaron Hernandez made up for Gronk’s absence by grabbing 85 yards on 6 catches. The team’s two-headed running attack of Ridley and Vereen fought for a combined 123 yards on 22 attempts, with one rushing touchdown apiece. (Vereen also had 2 receiving TDs, tying Curtis Martin for the most touchdowns in a Patriots postseason game)
The Patriots defense was able to limit Texans RB Arian Foster to only 90 yards, while SS Steve Gregory and CB Aqib Talib recorded 10 tackles apiece as they worked to defend the high-powered Texans passing game.
Despite the great efforts put forth by the offense and the defense, the most glaring flaw for the Patriots was the performance of their special teams, specifically during kickoffs. On four attempts, Houston’s Danieal Manning AVERAGED 54 yards per return. If the Patriots want to continue their success, they absolutely cannot allow that to happen.
The Patriots may have come out of this game with a win, but they didn’t do so unscathed. TE Rob Gronkowski left the field in the first quarter and never returned, and according to Pro Football News, he’s out for the rest of the postseason and will require more surgery on his injured forearm. They’ve been able to win games without him, but it’s certainly a shame to lose such a valuable asset. RB Danny Woodhead also left the game very early on due to a thumb injury. He was back on the sideline by the second quarter, though never returned to the field. The status of his injury has yet to be revealed.
I’ll end this last post by going back to some good news – I get to keep this blog going! Big thanks to anyone that’s been keeping up with it, I’ll be posting daily until next Sunday’s game. Tell your friends.