FOXBORO, Mass. — It is now known across America that the mighty Houston Texans are not ready for prime time, losing 42-14 to the New England Patriots on pro football’s biggest stage, Monday Night Football.
And that may indeed be true, given the Texans no-show in a showdown their elder statesman, Andre Johnson, declared “the most important game in franchise history.”
Worse, the Texans didn’t even put up a fight with the team that's dominated the AFC for the past decade, and continues to do so. The Patriots are not only good, but quite possibly better than ever.
The numbers don’t lie. New England has now won 10 games for the 10th straight year, a feat no other AFC team can match.
Even more impressive this season is that six of those wins have been by three touchdowns or more. The Patriots biggest issue this season has been trying to run out the clock early in the third quarter.
Since the ugly 29-26 overtime win over the Jets on Oct. 21, the Patriots have scored 45, 37, 59, 49, 23 and 42 points, which averages to just over 42 points.
While we like to talk about the undefeated Patriots 2007 offense as one of the greatest ever to play in the NFL, that unit didn’t touch 40 points over its last nine games.
But what’s happened isn’t just about offense. The defense, once the laughingstock of the league, has allowed only 18.5 points over the last six games -- and a lot of those points were scored with second and third-team guys playing defense in the fourth quarter.
Arian Foster, the talented Texans running back who has been in the MVP race, just dropped out of the discussion Monday night, averaging 3.0 yards. He had 15 carries for 46 yards.
The Patriots also made Matt Schaub, a pretty good quarterback, look pedestrian at 19-of-32 passing for 232 yards, one interception and zero touchdown passes.
This was a result worth celebrating.
“It’s good locker room right now and it should feel good,” said the understated Patriots coach, Bill Belichick.
New England's next opponent offers another mountain to climb. The San Francisco 49ers come to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for Sunday Night Football.
Like the Texans, the Niners have been called the “best team in football” for several weeks this season. To earn that reputation, they will have to prove it to the Patriots.
Bill Burt is a sports writer for The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass..