Pats Lose Top Receiver and Ballgame to Texans
In a game that would mean nothing to either team, the New England Patriots fell to the Houston Texans, 34-27, thanks to a 21-point Texans fourth quarter. The game was hardly the biggest loss for the Pats, though: the devastating injury to receiver Wes Welker is what is currently lighting up the football blogosphere.
After the Texans scored on their first possession, the Pats put a drive together in an attempt to respond. During the drive, Welker made a catch on 3rd and 4 and attempted to make a cut to evade S Bernard Pollard. During his move, his left knee buckled underneath him. He fell after a gain of 12 yards and had to be carted off the field, his head buried in a towel. Later tonight, it was confirmed that he tore his ACL and MCL, the same injury that sidelined Tom Brady for the entire 2008 season. His season is definitely over; he finished with 123 receptions, 1,348 yards, and 4 touchdowns.
In his place, the rookie Julian Edelman stepped up and played admirably. He had 10 catches for 103 yards to lead all receivers. In a move perhaps intended to get Edelman acclimated to the first team offense, Tom Brady remained in the game for almost its entirety, only leaving for the final drives of each half. He completed 17 of 26 passes for 206 yards and an interception. He ends the season with 4,398 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
Brian Hoyer, the Pats backup quarterback, went 8 of 12 for 71 yards. Fred Taylor scored twice for the Patriots but also fumbled in his own end zone, gifting the Texans with a touchdown. Texans RB Arian Foster had a great game, taking 20 touches for 118 yards and two scores as he took the Pats’ shaky rush defense to task.
The Texans won the game and were feeling bullish about their playoff hopes, needing only the Ravens or Jets to lose to qualify for the postseason. Unfortunately for them, both teams won their games over the Raiders and Bengals, respectively, and made the playoffs over them due to superior conference record. It may be small consolation, but the Texans finished the season 9-7, their first winning season in franchise history.
The 2009 New England Patriots will enter the playoffs at 10-6. Their first opponent comes Sunday afternoon, and it’s a familiar one: the 9-7 Baltimore Ravens. The last time these two teams met was Week 4, when the Patriots foiled a last-minute Ravens drive to come away with a 27-21 win. The Ravens have never beaten the Patriots since Bill Belichick took over as coach, and no team has ever defeated the Patriots at home in the playoffs in 31 years, a testament to the overwhelming advantage the fierce weather and fiercer home crowd gives New England when a potential Super Bowl appearance is in the offing. With the #3 seed, a Patriots win also guarantees they will play the 13-3 San Diego Chargers in the Divisional round.