Houston defensive end Antonio Smith apologized Monday for using the word "spying" about New England, but didn't exactly back down from the accusations he made after the Texans' loss to the Patriots.

On Sunday after Houston's 34-31 loss, Smith told reporters that the Texans had some new wrinkles in their defense and it was "miraculous" how the Patriots changed their offense to key on the defense.

He said then: "Either teams are spying on us or scouting us. I don't know what it is."

On Monday, he said that he thought reporters in Houston knew him well enough to know that he could be joking and still be curious about something like this at the same time.

"I'm sorry I said the word spying because of a prior engagement of them being caught spying before," he said.

The NFL fined New England coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 and took away a first-round pick in the 2008 draft for videotaping New York Jets signals during a game on Sept. 9, 2007. Belichick said he thought that was allowed and apologized for what he said was a mistake in his interpretation of the rule prohibiting it.

Belichick was asked on a conference call Monday morning if he saw Smith's comments.

"Yeah, I saw them," he said. "I don't have any comment on them. I think that's a league matter."

Houston coach Gary Kubiak also was questioned about what Smith said and refused to address them directly.

"I have the utmost respect for their organization, their players, their coaches, their head coach and the standard that they've been setting for a long, long time in this league," he said. "So ... they did a great job yesterday and have been doing it a long time."

The loss extended Houston's franchise-record skid to 10 games. The Texans were up 17-7 at halftime before New England rallied for the win.

Smith said Monday that he was surprised his comments caused such a stir and wondered why no one had a sense of humor about what he said.

"Though it may be something I was curious about that kind of didn't seem right," he said. "Like how all of a sudden the change here? It wasn't a serious matter to where I was thinking: 'Aw man, they're spying on us. They're cheating. Things like that to the point where it gets to a big story about me accusing them of cheating. It's me being me, being funny."

Houston will try to end its skid Thursday night at Jacksonville.