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Monday, January 4, 2010

Well there goes the 1% chance of the Patriots doing anything in the playoffs

On the first Patriots drive yesterday afternoon at Houston's Reliant Stadium, New England wide receiver Wes Welker planted to make a cut and his left knee buckled. He was down for a long time with the trainers, Tom Brady and Randy Moss huddled around him, slowly went to the sidelines and finally was carted off to the locker room.

And with that, the Patriots' Nicole Richie thin Super Bowl chances completely bit the dust.

The Texans (9-7) were down 27-13 in the fourth quarter and rallied to win 34-27 but that ended up being completely irrelevant since the Texans still didn't make the playoffs and New England (10-6) got the number 3 seed in the AFC thanks to the Bengals' diaper full of Indian food performance last night at the Meadowlands.

The Patriots host the Ravens next Sunday at Gillette, 1pm.

The million dollar question heading into the regular season finale was how much would Tom Brady and the other Patriots stars play? If you've been paying attention the last decade, you'd know that Bill Belichick hates to sit key players, at any time. Regardless of how crazy that may seem.

As it turned out, Belichick wasn't even sure what to do yesterday since Brady played until late in the second quarter, was pulled for Brian Hoyer and then started the second half and played most of the second half. And what was the point? Seeing Welker get hurt (albeit on a freak accident, a non-contact play) reminded everyone of the sheer brutality of football.

With no bye week and no depth at receiver, wouldn't it make sense to give Brady and Moss the rest of the day off? Apparently not. You can say Brady had to work in a game situation without Welker but I'm not buying it.

Julian Edelman (10 catches, 103 yards), the man who will have to fill in for Welker, did an admirable job but can he be counted on in the playoffs?

The Texans scored on their opening drive as Matt Schaub (303 yards, 2 touchdowns) threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Dreessen.

Fred Taylor tied it up with a four-yard touchdown run. Stephen Gostkowski gave New England a 10-7 lead in the second quarter with a 51-yard field goal.

The Patriots' defense made a goalline stand but on the next play Taylor fumbled in the endzone and former Chief great Bernard Pollard (who ripped up Brady's knee) recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

Gostkowski tied it before the half with a 43-yard kick.

Rookie cornerback Darius Butler made the play of the game in the third quarter as he corralled a tipped pass and returned it 91 yards for a score.

When Taylor had an 11-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Patriots might win a road game against a decent team.

Jacoby Jones' 8-yard touchdown catch from Schaub cut it to 27-20 Patriots and rookie running back Arian Foster (20 carries, 119 yards) took over with a 1-yard score and a 3-yard touchdown.

The last Texans touchdown was made possible by a terrible interception from Brady. Pressured by Mario Williams, Brady threw it up for grabs to Sam Aiken.

Going into the Texans game, I was feeling good that the Pats could win their home playoff game and then give the Colts and maybe even the Chargers a scare in the next round. Now, I'm not sure what to think. It's been a terribly disappointing season with one distraction and costly mistake after another.

Since I'm going to the Ravens game (my first playoff action), I'm simply hoping for a win and then we'll worry about the next step.

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