Texans head coach Gary Kubiak didn't mince words when speaking with Houston media Tuesday, telling the Houston Chronicle that the No. 1 key for Sunday's game was turnovers.
"The most important thing," Kubiak said, "is to win the turnover battle."
The Texans and Patriots last played Dec. 10, a 42-14 win for the Patriots in which both teams turned the ball over once. The Texans finished the regular season with a +12 turnover differential, trailing only the Patriots (+25) in the AFC. But Houston's defense has failed to come up with any significant takeaways since a Week 13 meeting against the Tennessee Titans, when they forced six. Since then, the Texans have forced four turnovers in their five games through the wild card playoffs.
"It’s amazing," Kubiak told the Chronicle. "We emphasize it in practice and do everything we can [to set up turnovers]. But it’s too late in the year to have guys beat on each other in practice like they do [in training camp]. It’s hard to explain. Sometimes these things go in cycles."
Of course, Kubiak's main concern is how quickly Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lets go of the ball.
"[Brady] gets rid of the ball extremely quick, which can frustrate a defense from that standpoint," Kubiak said. "They’ll just sit there and nitpick you and make you pay for every little mistake you make. He’s exceptional."