HOUSTON -- When the Patriots host the Texans this weekend, it will be the 23d time Tom Brady's walked on the field for a playoff game. It will be Matt Schaub's second (unless you count some pinch hitting he did back in his Falcons days).
Experience matters. That's something Texans coach Gary Kubiak will freely admit. The Texans have never been farther than the divisional round and they've never won at Gillette. Last week's wild card win in Cincinnati was Schaub's playoff debut. This week he'll get his first taste of playoff football on the road.
“I think [experience is] extremely important or you wouldn’t see guys like Tom and Peyton (Manning), these guys going there so much," Kubiak said. "It’s obviously something that you got to have a great football team, but guys that do play in those games a bunch that stage does get bigger, the level of play, everything just picks up.
"This is his opportunity to start to get those chances as a player. He’s been working really hard for nine years to get this opportunity. Unfortunately, last year he was hurt. I think he’s got a lot of football left in him. Hopefully he’s going to play in a lot of those big games. Obviously, that’s what you’re trying to do, trying to lead a team to play in those types of games.”
Although he's played 118 games in his career, Schaub made his postseason debut last week in a wildcard win against Cincinnati, which means that at the most important position on the field the Texans are the least experience of any of the AFC playoff teams except the Colts.
Last season, when the Texans won their first playoff game in franchise history, Schaub was sideline with a Lisfranc injury, missing out on a milestone.
“It was great to be out there with my guys, especially with how last season went for me, being injured and not being able to be out there," Schaub said. "To go out and win the football game in front of our home crowd, it was a good day.”
Though he didn't throw a touchdown pass, Schaub set most of the franchise's meaningful single-game postseason passing marks (29 completions, 38 attempts, 262 yards) but the biggest takeaway was winning his first playoff start.
“I think him just getting his first win probably got a monkey off his back because that’s something a lot of people talked about or whatever," said wide receiver Andre Johnson. "I think with him getting that out of the way, it probably would make him feel more comfortable going into the game.”
The Patriots postseason experience is incomparable. Aside from being the all-time leader in playoff completions (499), third in touchdowns, and fourth in passing yards, Brady will surpass Joe Montana for most playoff wins as a starting quarterback with his next victory (they're currently knotted at 16 apiece).
Inexperience, however, won't shake Schaub's confidence.
"We know what type of team we can be when we’re playing up to our expectations and our standard and what we demand out of ourselves," Schaub said. "So we go up there with a lot of confidence to go win a road football game.”