Still, Brady remains the consistent key to a team that earned its third straight playoff bye this season, its 10th in a row with at least 10 wins.
“He’s won a lot of regular-season games, won a lot of playoff games,” coach Bill Belichick said. “What he does on a day-to-day basis, how he performs on the practice field, how he performs in games — whether they’re preseason, regular season, postseason, whatever it is — he’s pretty consistent. I think you see that during the week, so it shows up on Sunday.”
It was painfully obvious to the Texans (13-4) on Dec. 10 when they came to Gillette Stadium with the NFL’s best record. They left with a 42-14 pounding in which Brady had four touchdown passes six minutes into the third quarter.
“I know the score looked like it was a certain way, but there were certain plays that we could have done a better job on,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do a better job of (that) this week.”
The Patriots (12-4) have been reminded of that rout constantly this week. And they’ve constantly downplayed its relevance for Sunday’s divisional playoff game.
“Giving us an opportunity to have this game at home, I think that’s the important thing about last game,” Brady said. “Other than that, this is going to be a whole different game full of our own execution, our ability to try to beat a very good football team that’s played well all year.”
The game against the Patriots began a slide of three losses in four games. The last, to the Indianapolis Colts, dropped the Texans from the first to the third spot in the AFC, costing them a first-round bye.
They won their wild-card game, edging the Cincinnati Bengals 19-13 last Saturday. But they are still playing below the level they established in winning 11 of their first 12.