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Monday, December 10, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Patriots 42, Texans 14

By Paul Kuharsky

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 42-14  loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium:

What it means: The Texans suffered their second loss of the season and now stand at 11-2. While they still control both the AFC South and home-field advantage in the AFC, they’ve also created a scenario where the Colts also have control over the outcome of the division. The Texans and Colts play each other twice in the next three weeks. If the Colts win their final three, they, not the Texans, will win the AFC South.

What I didn’t like: It’s a long list. With a chance to tie the game at 7-7, Matt Schaub three a pick to Devin McCourty in the end zone early in the first quarter. The Texans allowed Tom Brady to drive the Patriots and throw touchdown passes on New England’s first three possessions and never did anything from there to make it feel like they could come back. The offensive line allowed a bunch of hits on Schaub. The defensive line didn’t do enough to disrupt Brady. The Texans forced two fumbles near their goal line but watched the Patriots recover both, one in the end zone. They didn't show any mental toughness and didn't look to have a plan to keep up. At all.

Coverage issues: His hamstring and/or groin may still be a factor, but cornerback Johnathan Joseph again didn’t play like a top defensive back. He was hardly alone. Glover Quin bit on a fake and allowed a 37-yard touchdown catch by Brandon Lloyd behind him. Young corner Brandon Harris got worked by Donte Stallworth on a 63-yard touchdown where he should have at least been able to tackle him after the catch. The front didn't rush well enough to help the secondary survive against Brady.

What I want to know: What message does Gary Kubiak send his team by giving up in the fourth quarter? The Texans were huddling on offense and running it a bunch at that stage, acknowledging they couldn’t mount any sort of surprise rally. Why not take a knee?

MVP talk: I thought J.J. Watt would have a big chance to make an impression on award voters with a big game, enhancing his candidacy for Defensive Player of the Year and even making a bid for MVP. He made some plays, including forcing a fumble, but didn’t play to his usual standards. It was Brady who did the most to bolster an MVP bid.

What’s next: The Texans host the Colts in a giant AFC South game. If they win, they’ll be division champs. If Indianapolis wins, the Colts will remain alive for the division crown.