Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Texans return to scene of slaughter Sunday

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HOUSTON -- Another trip to New England awaits the Houston Texans, and coach Gary Kubiak knows what his team has to do to have a chance against the Patriots in the second round of the playoffs.

"We had a rough trip up there last time, but we've earned our right to go back," Kubiak said. "We want to go back and play a heck of a lot better than we did."

The AFC East champion Patriots trounced the Texans 42-14 at Foxborough on Dec. 10, and Houston gets another shot after beating Cincinnati 19-13 in Saturday's wild-card game.

Houston had lost just one game this season before that loss began a terrible month where the Texans lost three of their last four regular-season games to fall out of the top seed in the AFC.

The Texans did enough to beat the Bengals, but they have to figure out a way to score touchdowns against a New England team that averages 34.8 points per game.

Houston got in the red zone four times on Saturday, and settled for field goals three of those times after the offence stalled.

"Get in the red zone, playing New England, we have to get touchdowns," left tackle Duane Brown said. "You've got to do a better job up front, whatever play is called ... can't settle for field goals. Everyone was pretty disappointed and that was a good thing. We're disappointed we got field goals and that's a sign of a great team, great offence, and we'll look at it and see what corrections need to be made."

Making his first post-season start, quarterback Matt Schaub threw an interception which was returned for a touchdown before halftime on Saturday. But he shook off the mistake to finish 29 of 38 for 262 yards. Schaub missed last season's playoff run with an injured foot.

He believes the recent trip to New England will help the Texans in this visit. The Texans were 6-0 on the road before the debacle at New England.

"What we learned and the situations we were in a month ago, we can definitely pull from that," Schaub said. "We've been down that road. We know what it takes to win and that's play good road football. We didn't do that last time we played up there."

Houston had struggled on both sides of the ball on third down recently, but fixed that problem on Saturday. The Texans entered Saturday's game having converted just 15 of 49 third-down attempts in their last four games.

On Saturday, they converted 47 per cent of their third down attempts.

The Texans' defence is looking to build on the solid performance it turned in against the Bengals. Houston held the Bengals to 198 yards on Saturday.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2013 C6

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