Belichick expects changes from Pats rout of Texans

A regular-season rout can be a poor predictor of the postseason

rematch.

Coach Bill Belichick has another chance to remind his New

England Patriots of that less than a month after their 42-14 romp

that shoved the Houston Texans into their late-season plunge.

The stakes will be much higher when the Texans return next

Sunday to the field where they flopped. The winner of the

divisional-round matchup goes to the AFC championship game.

”The game that we play now doesn’t have much to do with the

game we played before,” Belichick said Sunday, one day after the

Texans advanced with a 19-13 wild-card win over the Cincinnati

Bengals

Two years ago, the Patriots beat the New York Jets 45-3 in the

12th game of the season. Just six weeks later, the Patriots had the

NFL’s best record but lost to the Jets 28-21 in a divisional

game.

It’s a history lesson Belichick is sure to review this week.

”I don’t think it’s anything that wasn’t mentioned until that

situation occurred, but it’s an example we can point out,” he said

in a conference call during a break from preparing for the Texans.

”We talked about that many times before, how other games don’t

have anything to do with this game. It stands on its own.

”That is and always will be the case, but it’s an example to

point out of how little relevance the previous game with the same

team really does have.”

The Texans had the league’s top mark when the ball was kicked

off to start their game at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 10. But less

than six minutes into the second quarter, they trailed 28-0 after

Tom Brady’s fourth touchdown pass.

That gap grew to 42-7 midway through the fourth quarter, with

Arian Foster’s 1-yard run the only touchdown until backup

quarterback T.J. Yates ran in from 1 yard with two minutes

left.

That began a stretch of three losses in four games before the

Texans did just enough to beat the Bengals.

The Patriots held Foster to 46 yards rushing, his fourth-lowest

output in a season in which he averaged 89 yards per game.

The real Foster is more like the one who ran a season-high 32

times for 140 yards and the game’s only offensive touchdown against

the Bengals. That made him the first NFL player to rush for at

least 100 yards in each of his first three playoff games.

”There’s no question that he’s the key guy for Houston and

their offense, but his production also complements the other

players as well and the other parts of the game,” Belichick said.

”Yesterday I thought he made a decent amount of yardage breaking

tackles and making the defender miss a tackle in the hole or that

kind of thing.”

Starting tackle Derek Newton, tight end Garrett Graham and

linebacker Brooks Reed played against the Bengals after missing the

first game against the Patriots.

”We were pretty sure that Reed wasn’t going to get in the game,

but all the rest of them we prepared for,” Belichick said, ”the

ones that were able to play played and the others (who) didn’t.

It’s kind of the same thing this time. They have a couple guys that

are out, but they added a couple of new players as well so we have

to be ready for all of them.”

One of the Patriots’ most important players missed that opening

meeting. But tight end Rob Gronkowski returned from a five-game

absence after breaking his left forearm and had a touchdown catch

in the 28-0 win over the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season

finale.

Belichick expects many more changes than just the personnel.

”When you play a team twice during the season, the games are

totally different. They never go the same way,” he said. ”We’ll

be able to certainly look at some of the matchups individually,

guys that faced each (other) in the game. As far as plays and calls

and things like that matching up, I’m sure they’ll have some new

wrinkles. I’m sure we’ll have some, too. It will be totally

different.”

The coaching staff prepared last week for all three potential

opponents.

But when Houston won on Saturday, Belichick and his staff didn’t

have to wait for the Baltimore Ravens to beat the Indianapolis

Colts 24-9 on Sunday to determine the opponent.

The Texans were coming back.

”We spent a significant amount of time on them last week,”

Belichick said.

Now they have more to analyze from Saturday’s victory.

”They had a couple pieces that were specific for Cincinnati,

not revolutionary,” he said. ”There are some good examples of

things we can learn (from) that game, but, ultimately, our game,

our matchups are different (from) theirs and will be different from

the first game.”

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and

http://twitter.com/AP-NFL