EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 10, 2012

How 'bout them Patriots!

New England just keeps getting better, romps over tough Texans

Bill Burt
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — It will be written today all over America that the mighty Houston Texans are not ready for prime time after losing 42-14 on pro football’s biggest stage, Monday Night Football.

And that may indeed be true, after pulling a no-show in a game their elder statesman, Andre Johnson, said was “the most important game in franchise history.”

Worse, the Texans didn’t even give a fight, which is another story for another day (maybe in January).

But we shouldn’t get off subject here. And that is that your New England Patriots are not only good, but quite possibly better than ever.

The numbers don’t lie.

The Patriots have now won 10 games for the 10th straight year, which is even more impressive considering it is five more times than Jets (3), Bills (0) and Dolphins (2) combined.

Even more impressive this season is the fact that six of those wins have been by three touchdowns or more. In other words, the Patriots biggest issue this season has been trying to run out the darn clock early in the third quarter.

Remember the Patriots problem — also Tom Brady’s problem — with putting teams away? Running back Stevan Ridley has helped put a stop to those issues, rushing for 39 of his 72 hard-earned yards on one fourth quarter drive that ended with a 14-yard TD run.

Since the ugly 29-26 overtime win over the Jets on Oct. 21, the Patriots have scored 45, 37, 59, 49, 23 and 42 points, which averages to just over 42 points.

While we like to talk about the Patriots 2007 offense as one of the greatest maybe ever to play, that unit didn’t touch 40 points over its last nine games.

But what’s happened around here isn’t just about offense. The defense, once the laughingstock of the league, has allowed only 18.5 points over the last six games. And let’s be honest, a lot of those points have come with second and third-team guys playing defense in the fourth quarter.

The talented Texans running back Arian Foster, who has been in the “MVP discussion,” just dropped out the discussion last night, averaging 3.0 yards. He had 15 carries for 46 yards.

And lest we forget the “worst defensive backfield ever” made another pretty good quarterback — Houston’s Matt Schaub — look pretty pedestrian at 19-of-32, 232 yards, one interception and zero touchdown passes.

This was a result worth celebrating, and celebrate they apparently did.

“It’s good locker room right now and it should feel good,” said the usually understated Patriots coach, Bill Belichick.

Sure, next week appears to be another mountain to climb. The San Francisco 49ers will play at Foxboro next Sunday night, and, like the Texans, they have been called the “best team in football” for several weeks this season.

New England will spend the next five days salivating, waiting for another prime time game here in Foxboro.

But that’s for later in the week. I have one thing to say about what they’ve done so far, particularly after last night:

How ’bout them Patriots!

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.