FOXBOROUGH — Maybe it wasn’t obvious Monday night in a 42-14 loss to the Patriots, but Gary Kubiak has put together an excellent offense with the Houston Texans. And the Texans coach has been around potent offenses for much of his football life, whether it was as John Elway’s backup with the Broncos, quarterbacks coach for the Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers in 1994, or offensive coordinator for a pair of Broncos championship teams.
Perhaps his appreciation of a relentless offense is one reason Kubiak sounded more impressed than frustrated after Tom Brady and the Patriots dismantled his defense with 419 total yards and 27 first downs en route to the 28-point rout in front of a national television audience.
“That’s the type of team they are,” said Kubiak, whose Texans fell to 11-2 and own a one-game lead over the Patriots for the top seed in the AFC. “They make you look really bad. They’re hurrying up and getting in a formation and if you’re not on top of your stuff, No. 12 is not going to miss it. He doesn’t miss many, and he sure as hell didn’t tonight. That’s what it takes to get to where that team has been for a long time. They did it again tonight. Credit to them.”
J.J. Watt, the Texans’ outstanding defensive end, kept it simpler.
“We played a very good football team and they executed everything very well and had a great game plan. They came in and played a great game and we didn’t play a great game and they won.”
There were indications the Texans weren’t quite ready for the anticipated matchup early — such as on the very first play from scrimmage.
“First play of the game, we line up wrong,” said Kubiak. “That’s really concerning. You know what you’re fixing to do on the first play of the game for about three days, and we line up and get a penalty.”
While the Texans’ first drive stalled, the Patriots converted theirs into 7 points, with Aaron Hernandez scoring the first of his two first-half touchdowns on a 7-yard pass from Brady. Kubiak was asked whether the Texans were caught off-guard by the Patriots’ hurry-up offense.
“That’s what they do. We expected that. We worked on that,” he said. “The best thing you can do is do something when you have the ball. We go move the ball on our first possession, can’t get a third down, they have a big punt return, and we’re down 7-0. It gets magnified against the type of team that they are. When you’ve got an opportunity to make a big play, you can’t miss it. Not when you’re trying to win a game of this magnitude against that type of opponent.”
Brandon Lloyd’s 37-yard touchdown reception put the Patriots up, 14-0, with 2 minutes and 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter. They built the lead to 21-0 just 3:59 into the second quarter, when Brady found Hernandez for a 4-yard touchdown pass, capping an eight-play, 70-yard drive.
“We had some opportunities in the first half to sit there and go toe-to-toe with a great team,” Kubiak said, “and then we missed a couple of plays, we give up a return, and suddenly you’re down 21-0. But that’s the type of team they are.”
Kubiak said it would be a mistake to suggest Monday’s bad performance is more indicative of his team’s true identity than its 11 victories.
“I think losing is a part of football whether it’s this week or Week 2,” Kubiak said. “That’s the thing about the NFL. There’s a chance you’re going to lose a game or two. That’s the nature of this business. How you respond to defeat or how you respond to not playing well says a lot about your team.”
Quarterback Matt Schaub echoed his coach’s sentiment.
“We have to take a hard look and be better going forward. Especially next week with the [9-4] Colts coming in, because they are playing well. We have to refocus on that, learn from this one, and move on. In this business, good or bad, you have to have a short-term memory.”