FOXBORO — The Patriots insist that their rout of the Texans on Monday night was not a “statement” game to show they could excel against the team with the NFL’s best record.
They made one — loud and clear — nevertheless.
Tom Brady and company let the dwindling group of doubters know that they can dominate even their best opponents and are still improving as they head toward the playoffs.
“It needs to come together now,” Brady said after throwing four touchdown passes in New England’s 42-14 win over Houston on Monday night. “This is the perfect time for it. We can’t wait any longer.”
There was plenty of pregame focus on the Texans’ big playmakers — J.J. Watt with an AFC-high 16½ sacks, Arian Foster with an NFL-leading 15 touchdowns, Andre Johnson with 74 receptions. And Houston was the only NFL team with a perfect road record at 6-0.
The Patriots (10-3) took command quickly, scoring on passes in their first three possessions. Whether or not they wanted to deliver a message that the hype about Houston (11-2) was overblown, it couldn’t be missed.
“Any competitive person is going to use whatever motivation best motivates himself,” defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said Tuesday. “In the end, our motivation is going to be to go out there to try to play the best we can, get better and do our job to the best of our ability.”
But “statement” game?
“Not at all,” defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. “I’m not big on that.”
That’s the real message coach Bill Belichick tries to deliver — treat every game as a difficult challenge, no matter how well or poorly the opponent has been playing. That emphasis has helped them win their past seven games.
“We don’t really worry too much about records around here,” he said.