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 offense 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 offense, and we’ll look at it and see what corrections need to be made.
Making his first postseason 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 percent of their third down attempts.
The Texans’ defense is looking to build on the solid performance it turned in against the Bengals. Houston held the Bengals to 198 yards on Saturday.
"I’m not the biggest believer in momentum in the world, but it definitely feels good to get back in our rhythm, get back to doing what we do," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "We’re going to have some good film to watch because if we’re going to go up there and beat them we need to play a game like we played (Saturday). Offense holding the ball, defense getting off the field on third down."
Arian Foster powered Houston’s offense on Saturday with a season-high 32 carries for 140 yards. He had just 46 yards rushing in the loss at New England, and is looking forward to proving that this team is much better than the one that showed up the last time in Foxborough.
"They have a great coach and a great quarterback and they have great role players on their team," Foster said of the Patriots. "I have a lot of respect for them, but we can play ball, too. We didn’t play our best football up there and we hurt ourselves with penalties and mistakes. Anytime you give them opportunities, they’ll take advantage of them. But we’ll play our best up there."