Underdog Texans face big challenge on road against Patriots
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Houston Texans face an enormous challenge against the New England Patriots on Saturday night.
The Texans are 1-7 against the Patriots. They are winless in New England all time, including a shutout loss earlier this season when Tom Brady was out because of a suspension.
The Patriots enter the game as 15 1/2-point
In the five previous occasions only one underdog — the New York Jets in Joe Namath's Super Bowl guarantee — won the game.
New England says it isn't taking anything for granted in the divisional-round matchup against the NFL's top-ranked
But how does Houston, which lost 27-0 in Week 3 to a Patriots team without Brady, go about beating a team that is one of the biggest
"The first thing that jumps out, you have to protect the ball. If you are going to beat the Patriots, especially in Foxborough, you can't have any turnovers," Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler said.
"If you have turnovers, you are giving Tom additional chances to score points. ... and that's never going to be good for your football team."
That will be easier said than done against a Patriots
The Texans turned it over three times in the first meeting. Two of the turnovers —fumbles on kickoffs — led to 14 points.
"You all don't have anything to do with the game so what you all think doesn't really matter," Hightower said. "I mean you all aren't in between the lines. So, no I'm not really — blocking out the noise is part of that."
Here are some other things to watch for in Saturday's matchup:
Houston RB Lamar Miller returned against the Raiders after missing two weeks with an ankle injury. He finished with 73 yards and a touchdown, but was unhappy with his performance after averaging just 2.4 yards a carry after averaging 4 per run in the regular season.
"This past game ... I was kind of rusty for not playing the last two weeks," he said. "I'm just trying to get comfortable with everything. This week, I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Miller is in his first season with the Texans after spending his first four with the Dolphins. He has been a rare bright spot on a Houston
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney's breakout regular season helped Houston's
"I said: 'We got to keep doing this as long as we're going to keep winning these games. We have to go out here and make plays,'" Clowney said. "He was like: 'I know, man, I know.' This week I told him it's going to be on us again."
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount has taken a lot of pressure off Brady this season, rushing for a New England single-season record 18 touchdowns and career-high 1,161 yards. But he may not be at 100
Brady's receiving group is as healthy as it's been in a long time thanks to the return of Danny Amendola to full participation in practice this week. Amendola sat out the final four regular-season games after suffering an ankle injury on Dec. 4.
He said he's had no setbacks since his return.
"The playoffs is what you play for," Amendola said. "It's why everybody's here. It's what we've been waiting on all year. And we're ready to go."
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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower
AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this story.