FOXBORO — Tom Brady was under pressure for most of the night from the Houston defense and was knocked to the ground on several occasions in the Patriots’ 34-16 win.

Like he typically does, Brady worked the refs to try and get a call for a late hit.

This didn’t go over well with former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis.

Tom Brady was not very popular on Twitter Saturday night. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady was not very popular on Twitter Saturday night. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Tom Brady was under pressure for most of the night from the Houston defense and was knocked to the ground on several occasions in the Patriots’ 34-16 win.

Like he typically does, Brady worked the refs to try and get a call for a late hit.

This didn’t go over well with former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis.

“It’s Called Football Brady,” Lewis tweeted after he pleaded with Pete Morelli for a late hit call.

Lewis wasn’t the only one attacking Brady on Twitter Saturday night. Seattle safety Earl Thomas was, too.

“Tom Brady has the easiest route… put his ass in our division and see what he does!!! #salty!!,” Thomas tweeted.

A fan also tweeted a GIF to Thomas from Super Bowl XLIX when Thomas blew a coverage against the Patriots.

“Did you watch the game this year I owned Tom Brady!! That BS you showing I was hurt trying to help my team,” Thomas replied.

It’s one thing to trash-talk on the field, but it’s another thing to trash-talk from a couch.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Tom Brady was off his game at times, but the Patriots still came through with a Saturday night win over Houston.</p>
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FOXBORO — Sometimes you have to give yourself a kick in the backside to get going.

That’s apparently all it took for the Patriots trio of Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon to pick it up after what they felt was a less-than stellar first half Saturday.

Leading just 17-13 at the half, the three Rutgers products each had a second-half interception of Brock Osweiler and helped to shut down the Texans in New England’s 34-16 win Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

What was the key to the turnaround in the second half?

“Really, we were angry with ourselves,” McCourty said. “The first three points they got was a penalty on us that extended a drive on a third-down stop. Then, even in the red area, we held them to three on a sudden change, and then the touchdown, myself and Duron [Harmon], we could have got ourselves in a better defense.

“Going into halftime, we just looked at each other like, ‘We’ve just got to play better. Do what we’re supposed to do and make them earn it.’ We did that, we did a better job of that, but they came and they fought hard. I think they came and tried to play a complete game as a team and we had to battle through some ups and down. But that’s what the playoffs are about, finding a way to win.”

Osweiler was actually quite effective if not spectacular in the first half, completing eight of his first 10 passes before the Patriots pressure started getting to him. He finished the first half 13-of-20 for 83 yards. He was sacked twice but did throw a touchdown but he took care of the ball.

In the second half, the Rutgers trio flipped that script. McCourty had the first pick in the third quarter in front of the Texans sideline on a ball for DeAndre Hopkins.

“That was just a little bit of what we do coverage-wise,” McCourty explained. “I knew I had to get on him tight. He’s a go-to guy in that situation, third or second, I think it was third down. I just tried to stay tight on him and was able to make a play on the ball.”

In the fourth quarter, Ryan picked off an Osweiler pass over the middle and returned it to the Houston 6. Two plays later, Dion Lewis ran it in. And then, with the game in hand, Harmon stepped in front of a pass for tight end Ryan Griffin at the Patriots 3 with three minutes left.

“In the end we were able to take the ball away and play good in the red-area defensively,” Bill Belichick said. “That was helpful, and able to come away with more points. A big day for Rutgers, a big day for Rutgers. They all had interceptions. We love to see that, love to see them for anybody but especially when we get three of them. That was big.”

The Patriots defense may not have faced the stiffest test in the world Saturday but they started to feast on a quarterback that was wilting under their pressure in the second half and they were able to seal the deal late. That’s a good formula in the playoffs.

“Those guys have been getting after the quarterback,” McCourty said of the pressure from Ryan, Malcom Brown and Rob Ninkovich, all of whom recorded sacks. “A lot of people have said how bad we are rushing the passer, so I guess they’ll evaluate this and they’ll probably still say we’re bad at it, but we know what we can do up front, and I think it’s the back end talking to the front end, the front end talking to us, and we just keep everybody going. When they’re able to get after the quarterback and we feel that, we’re getting after it and trying to make good plays in the back end.

“Really, my interception was a ball that was behind, Logan’s was a high ball. That comes from the front. That’s the front causing pressure, making sure the quarterback’s not just back there and feeling comfortable, that’s them. That’s always – when you’re playing good in the secondary and getting interceptions, that’s usually because those front four, the front seven are doing a good job. Complementary football – that’s the way we’ve been winning and we’ve got to continue to do that.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — In some ways, it was the perfect scenario for Bill Belichick following his team’s 34-16 win over the overmatched Texans Saturday night at Gillette.

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Bill Belichick speaks after a 34-16 playoff win over the Texans Saturday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — In some ways, it was the perfect scenario for Bill Belichick following his team’s 34-16 win over the overmatched Texans Saturday night at Gillette.

The Patriots won to advance to their sixth straight AFC title game and even covered in the process. They got a key part of their offense on track in Dion Lewis. Julian Edelman moved up the ladder among all-time great NFL receivers with eight catches and 137 yards.

But then there were the three turnovers, the inability to score a touchdown before the half from inside the five yard line three times and allowing Tom Brady to get hit time after time by the Texans pass rush. There were – as they say – plenty of teaching points for Belichick to harp on this week as they get ready for the AFC championship at Gillette on Jan. 22.

“We’re going to have to play better, coach better,” Belichick said. “I don’t think the coaching was all that good tonight, either. We have to play better, we have to coach better than we did tonight, or there won’t be much left in our season. Hopefully we can do that and up our level of performance next week. Again, give the Texans credit. They did a good job. Defensively they gave us a lot of problems. We had six first-downs in the first half. We threw up a couple of prayers and came down with them, made a couple of good catches with Chris [Hogan] and Julian. We just didn’t have any consistency at all offensively, couldn’t run it or throw it very well.”

The Patriots were actually reeling before the half, leading just 14-13 and sensing the crowd at Gillette get a bit more nervous than anyone expected coming in. The Patriots were able to get three points to take a 17-13 halftime lead on a 19-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.

“Well, it was good to be able to get the last opportunity there,” Belichick said. “We drove it down. We got the ball to the one-inch line but couldn’t get it in. I might’ve thought about going for it on fourth-down, but when we lost yards there on third-down, the ball was on about the – I don’t know, one, one and a half, whatever it was – instead of on the one-inch line, then I didn’t really think very much about going for it at that point. It’s good to get the three points. We had the ball to start the second half because we deferred to start the game.

“But it would’ve been nice to get seven. We had a couple of good chances. We just didn’t get it done. Again, like a lot of things tonight, if we don’t improve in those situations the next time we play then it’ll probably be the last time we play. We’ve got to take advantage of our opportunities. We’ve got to coach and execute better. Hopefully we’ll be able to get that done this week.

How extraordinary is it to be in the position to go to six straight AFC Championship games?

“I mean it’s great to be playing at this time of year,” Belichick conceded. “You’re one of four teams that’s left after the weekend, but again, I mean I don’t really care about the other five years right now, or however many years it’s been. The only thing that matters is this year, this team, and what we have an opportunity to do, what we need to do to move on to play again.

“We can talk about all of that other stuff some other time. For right now, it’s just this team and getting to the AFC Championship Game and playing our best game next weekend. That’s what we’re going to need to do. We’re going to need to play our best game, better than we played tonight.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Dion Lewis had a game for the ages Saturday against the Texans.

The running back became the first first player in NFL postseason history to have a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown and kickoff return for a touchdown in a single game. Lewis also became fifth Patriots player to score at least three touchdowns in a postseason game in their history.

Dion Lewis was hard on himself despite his three touchdowns. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

Dion Lewis was hard on himself despite his three touchdowns. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Dion Lewis had a game for the ages Saturday against the Texans.

The running back became the first first player in NFL postseason history to have a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown and kickoff return for a touchdown in a single game. Lewis also became fifth Patriots player to score at least three touchdowns in a postseason game in their history.

He scored on a 13-yard reception in the first quarter, returned a kick 98 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and added a 1-yard touchdown run in the final stanza to lead the Patriots to a 34-16 win.

What stood out more to Lewis was fumbling on a kickoff, which allowed the Texans to score and make it a 14-13 game with just under 11 minutes to play in the first half.

“I did OK,” Lewis said. “There are some things I could do a lot better on – protect the ball [because] I put my team in jeopardy. I’ve got to work on that this week.”

Added Lewis: “It’s nice, but I’m just disappointed because I put my team in jeopardy, so I’ve got a lot of work to do and that’s what most of my focus is going to most be on.”

He finished with 41 yards rushing and 23 yards receiving to go along with the three touchdowns.

The Patriots are now 15-0 when Lewis is in the lineup for them. Lewis and the rest of the Patriots will play in the AFC championship next Sunday for the sixth straight season.

“It’s a great feeling,” Lewis said. “Nothing is guaranteed in this game, everybody knows that so to go to the playoffs and get a win is exciting. We’ll enjoy this the next couple of days and once we figure out who we’re going to play, we know we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

For more on Lewis, check out Mike Petraglia’s column on how important Lewis is to the team.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — Tom Brady and the Patriots beat the Texans 34-16 on Saturday night to advance to their sixth straight AFC title game, but you wouldn’t know it by the why the quarterback was talking after the game.

Tom Brady knows the Patriots need to be better next week no matter who they play. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady knows the Patriots need to be better next week no matter who they play. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Tom Brady and the Patriots beat the Texans 34-16 on Saturday night to advance to their sixth straight AFC title game, but you wouldn’t know it by the why the quarterback was talking after the game.

“It was a lot of things I think between what they were doing and what we were doing that were causing us problems,” Brady said. “It was just very inconsistent for us all the way around. We just didn’t do enough in any area, but they’ve got a good defense. They’re ranked the first-ranked defense and I thought they did a good job. They had a good scheme and they were prepared. They played well.”

Brady finished the game 18-for-38 passing with 287 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The two interceptions matched the same number he threw all season.

Also, his 47 percent completion percentage was the worst he’s ever had in the postseason.

“I think this team did a great job playing against us,” he said. “They had some good scheme stuff that worked. They have good rushers and they had some good guys in coverage, so they had a pretty good scheme. It was a lot of things, and then when you add our poor execution on top of that, then you add our turnovers on top of that, it doesn’t feel great because we worked pretty hard to play a lot better than we played.

“I give them a lot of credit, but we’re going to have to play better on offense. We expect to go out and have a good week and try to fix the things that we saw tonight, and then try to play better next weekend.”

The quarterback did rise to the occasion when he needed to.

With the Patriots leading 17-13, the second drive of the second half started on their own 10-yard line and Brady led the team down the field eventually connecting with James White for a 19-yard touchdown to essentially seal the deal.

He went 6-for-7 on the drive for 96 yards and four of those six completions went to Edelman. When targeting Edelman in the game, Brady was 8-for-13 with 137 yards.

“Jules did a great job,” Brady said. “He always does. He’s a huge playmaker for us and his ability to create separation and make plays down the field; he did a bunch of that tonight, so he did a great job.”

While the Patriots got the win on Saturday, Brady and the team knows this type of performance likely won’t be good enough against whoever they play next week.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable