Houston's defense healthy for this meeting with Patriots
HOUSTON — The first time Houston faced the Patriots, top cornerback Johnathan Joseph played while still struggling to get healthy, and outside linebacker Brooks Reed sat out with an injury.
That game turned into an embarrassing 42-14 loss to New England. Now both are back to full strength, and the Texans believe that makes their defense much stronger this time around.
“Right now, I can probably say this is the best I've felt all year,” Joseph said.
He was slowed by a hamstring injury that kept him out the two games before the first matchup against the Patriots.
Joseph, who often shadows the opponent's best receiver, knows he and the rest of the secondary will have their hands full. Not only must they deal with New England's wide receivers but also its tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski didn't play in the first game against Houston.
“They can place the ball on his back side or throw it up top, and those guys both have great hands where they can make the difficult catch in traffic,” Joseph said. “For us, it will be a task, but I think that we have the guys here that are up for the challenge.”
A frustrated Reed had to watch the team struggle against the Patriots and not be able to help.
“Now, it's a little bit different,” he said. “So I'll be out there and try to make plays of my own.”
Reed had a sack last week against the Bengals; he has at least one in each the three postseason games in Texans history. His best playoff performance came last season against the Ravens when he had 2½ sacks.
Houston is hoping to build on last week's dominant defensive performance in its 19-13 wild-card win over the Bengals. The Texans limited them to 198 yards, which was the lowest yardage total in the first round of the playoffs, and only 53 before halftime.
This week the Texans know they must get pressure on Tom Brady and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. They'll look to defensive star J.J. Watt to lead that charge. Watt led the NFL with a franchise-record 20½ sacks in the regular season.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: Ex-player Gilbert releases platform for NFLPA bid
- NFL notebook: Leagues join to evaluate concussions
- NFL notebook: Browns rookie QB Manziel fined for gesture