- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn't resting on the fact that the first time his team played the Texans this season, it handily defeated them 42-14 on "Monday Night Football," when Houston was an AFC-best 11-1 at the time.
"I don't think that game is going to have any bearing on what happens next week," he said Monday morning during his weekly appearance on the "Dennis & Callahan Show" on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "It was a big win for our season, it was a big win at that time, but this game is going to be entirely different, and we've got to be able to put just as much preparation into this game as we did before."
Brady echoed the thoughts of coach Bill Belichick, who said Sunday he also expects the rematch between his team and the Texans to be much different.
"No, as we all know, when you play a team twice during the season, the games are totally different. They never go the same way," he said. "We'll be able to certainly look at some of the matchups, individually of guys that faced each other in the game, but as far as plays and calls and things like that matching up, I'm sure they'll have some new wrinkles, and I'm sure we'll have some, too. It will be totally different."
In an interview with ESPN Radio, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub said his team's earlier drubbing might prove beneficial.
"I definitely think looking at the tape and looking at how the game went, we can definitely benefit from that," Schaub said Monday afternoon on the "SVP and Russillo Show."
"Having played up there, we know the lay of the land, we know where we're going, the length of the drive, everything is not new to us. We've been there, we've been down that road as a football team," he said.
It was just two years ago that the Patriots easily took care of an opponent during a "Monday Night Football" matchup in December and then later faced that same team in the playoffs. After thrashing the Jets 45-3, the Patriots lost to their division foe at home in the divisional round by a score of 28-21.
Brady said his team expects Belichick to bring that up this week.
"No, we haven't talked about it at all," he said. "I'm sure Coach will talk about it this week, though. I think that's a great example, the reason why we lost that game [to the Jets] wasn't because we beat them whatever four weeks before, it's because we sucked in the game, and we just didn't play the way we were capable of. I think the important part is to play up to our level of expectation, and that's from myself to the receivers to the tight ends to the running backs to the offensive line [and] to go out and play the way we're capable of playing. We have a lot of confidence when we do that."
Belichick on Sunday said the loss to the Jets two years ago is a good example of how each game between two opponents is different.
"I think there is probably a lesson there that the game we play now doesn't have much to do with the game we played before; it's another example of that," he said. "We've talked about that many, many times here, before and after the 2010 season. I don't think it's anything that wasn't mentioned until that situation occurred, but it's an example we can point out. We talked about that many times before, how other games don't have anything to do with this game. It stands on its own. That is and always will be case, but it's an example to point out of how little relevance the previous game with the same team really does have."
In facing the Texans for the second time in a single season, Brady, like his coach, is expecting some changes from what they do schematically.
"We deal with that every year with our division opponents, and sometimes it's somewhat similar, it's never exactly the same," he said. "I don't think any team would lose by three or four touchdowns and go, 'Man, that was the way to play them.' But at the same time, everything that you've done over the course of the year -- we always joke when Coach says we really don't want any bad plays to start the game -- well, you don't know they're going to be bad plays until they're actually bad plays. If you thought it was going to be a bad play going into it, you wouldn't do it, so that's game-planning."
He expressed confidence in the Patriots' coaching staff's ability to adjust to the new wrinkles the team likely will see.
"Our coaches do a better job, I feel, than anybody at making adjustments," Brady said. "And we had a great bye week last week to really improve, get better, to really understand how we've been successful at certain things this year and how we're going to need to continue to do things well in order to be successful here in the postseason."
Sunday will mark Brady's 23rd playoff start, and reaching the postseason always raises the stakes and gets the veteran quarterback fired up to play.
"Oh yeah, this is what we play for. This is what it's all about," Brady said. "This is why we work hard, this is what mental toughness is all about, this is what it's all about. It's more fun when you're challenged more and there's more at stake, and there is more this week than there was two weeks ago."
Field Yates is a regular contributor to ESPNBoston.com. ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss contributed to this report.
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