Patriots-Texans looked like Monday Night Football's most mouthwatering tilt for about 19 minutes of game time last night. By the time New England finished its third drive, the Pats had a 21-0 lead that the Texans never came close to challenging the rest of the way. Houston fans could argue that they were unlucky — who knows what happens if the Texans recover a Stevan Ridley fumble inside their own 5-yard line and Matt Schaub avoids a killer interception in the end zone on the ensuing series — but on the whole, they were outplayed by the Patriots and were clearly the second-best team on the field. (Also, the Texans had recovered 66.7 percent of fumbles in their games this year, the league's second-best rate, so they've been lucky there.)
By the time that Ryan Mallett was throwing interceptions and Mike Tirico was rooting for the over to come in, it was safe to say that we had learned a fair amount about how these two teams might interact if they meet again in the AFC playoffs. We learned that the Texans aren't quite the same offensively if they can't force teams to honor their run-action on play fakes, but that they can still probably throw the ball on anybody by creating mismatches with Owen Daniels on drag routes. We learned that Tom Brady is still comfortable throwing to anybody on any down, even if it's Donte' Stallworth, and that he's still going to get inappropriately excited about running for a first down up three scores at the end of the third quarter. But do we know, definitively, that the Texans aren't ready to compete at the highest level?
When I was in first grade, there was a kid named Thomas who couldn’t go more than a couple weeks without peeing his pants. Every day he’d come to school dressed in a collared shirt and a nice pair of slacks, and every day you’d think, “Will Thomas pee his pants today?” It wasn’t a question of if. It was a question of when. Our teacher knew he had a problem and tried to cure him of it. She tried having Thomas go to the bathroom every hour on the hour. It failed. She sat him in the seat closest to the exit and gave him the green light to head out at the first sign of trouble. That failed, too. Time and time again, they’d try something new, proclaim how things were different now, how Thomas was doing so much better ... and then Thomas would pee his pants again.
I was reminded of this story last night as I watched my San Diego Chargers blow a 24-point half-time lead.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports last night.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.