Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
The Texans brought the heat, but Brady had an answer for it.
That's what the New York Giants did in both Super Bowl victories over the Patriots. The Texans wanted to test that theory by blitzing on 48.8 percent of their defensive plays, according to Pro Football Focus, but the Patriots still came away with a convincing 41-28 victory Sunday.
In some ways it worked. Brady went 0-for-5 on his passes when he was pressured by the Texans defense. But on blitz plays, Brady averaged 10.8 yards per attempt. All three touchdown passes Brady threw Sunday came while the Texans sent extra men.
To put it simply, Brady can shred the blitz as long as his line doesn't collapse in front of him. The line was excellent Sunday, led by Pro Bowler Logan Mankins and young left tackle Nate Solder.
The racquets worked
In preparation for both games against the Texans, the Patriots simulated J.J. Watt's wingspan by holding up racquetball racquets on the defensive line. It was a strategy that Brady didn't like to compete against in practice, but apparently it all worked out for the best.
Watt had no pass deflections Sunday. He didn't have any in the Dec. 10 game, either. The Texans, as a team, were on the books for zero pass deflections against the Patriots, which certainly helped Brady throw for 344 yards and three touchdowns.
Watt was quiet once again against the Patriots. He recorded a half of a sack, but overall the second-year defense end out of Wisconsin didn't create a lot of pressure on Brady.
A career day for Vereen
Vereen only touched the ball 12 times, but he made the most of the opportunities. He rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. His biggest impact, though, was in the passing game. He caught five passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns. His second touchdown came in the fourth quarter on a touch pass by Brady down the left sideline. Vereen hauled it in over the shoulder and ran into the end zone to give the Patriots a 38-13 lead and put the game away.
Vereen has always been considered a great receiving running back, but with Woodhead and Stevan Ridley on board, Vereen hasn't been needed much. On the season, Vereen rushed for 251 yards on 62 carries (4.0 yards per carry) and caught eight passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.
Mis-leading day for Schaub
Matt Schaub's final line Sunday looked good: 34-for-51 for 343 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. But as Khaled Elsayed from Pro Football Focus notes, most of his success came in garbage time when the Patriots already had the game sealed up.
Both of Schaub's touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter. With the Patriots leading 38-13, Schaub hit DeVier Posey for a 25-yard score. Then, six minutes later, Schaub found Arian Foster for a 1-yard touchdown pass.
The Texans' offense only had one touchdown heading into the fourth quarter, a Foster TD run late in the first half.