Coming up short

             Entering today's game, the Texans knew it would take a full
             effort from all three phases of their team--offense, defense and
             special teams--to knock off the AFC East division-leading New
             England Patriots.

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Texans LB Jamie Sharper kept a close eye on Patriots QB Tom Brady throughout the game.


While the Texans' effort cannot be questioned, they quickly learned that effort alone is not necessarily good enough to beat a team with six consecutive wins and the 12th-best defense in the NFL.

In an up-and-down battle where each team had chances to win on many different occasions, the Texans disappointingly fell 23-20 to the New England Patriots in their first overtime game in franchise history.

Almost expectedly, the Texans' offense struggled to gain momentum and consistently move the ball against a tough Patriots defense. Although they had a team-long 8:41 scoring drive in the first quarter, they only managed a field goal. The Texans' offense finished with 169 net yards compared to the Patriots' 471 yards of offense.

"We played our hearts out today," Texans C Steve McKinney said. "The defense and special teams did an incredible job. They really kept us in the ball game. Offensively, points and yard were tough to come by today. You have to give (New England) credit, they are a good defense. They had a good game plan and out-executed us."

As much as the Texans' offense struggled, they were still able to take advantage of four critical sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery by the defense. As a result of those key defensive plays, the Texans scored a season-high 17 points off of three Patriots' turnovers.

The Texans' special teams did their part, too, by landing four punts within the Patriots' 20-yard line, as well as blocking two kicks--a punt in the fourth quarter and a field goal in overtime both by SS Ramon Walker.

"When you see that a certain segment of the team is struggling a little bit, it gives you that much more motivation to step it up and pick up the slack," Texans P Chad Stanley said. "That's just the way a team works. If you've got your partner down, you go over and you cover his back. That's kind of how the mentality is throughout the locker room. The special teams did great. They blocked a couple of kicks. That was huge. The defense played their tails off, too."

Despite the great efforts by the defense and special teams, the Texans couldn't execute well enough in overtime to overcome the pesky Patriots. After the game, the Texans knew how close they were from knocking off arguably the best team in the NFL at this point in the season.

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Texans DE Jerry DeLoach and the rest of the defense helped keep the Texans in the game.


"Everybody is kind of down right now," WR Jabar Gaffney said. "We were in the game and we let it slip away. This is a pretty tough (loss). We had one of the hottest teams in the NFL in here today and we had them on the ropes. We just couldn't finish them."

While today's loss burns no matter which way you cut it, the Texans cannot dwell on it for too long. The Atlanta Falcons will enter Reliant Stadium in less than a week and their star quarterback, Michael Vick, is likely to return from a leg injury he suffered in the preseason.

"We've got great competitors on our team. Everybody here is a pro," Stanley said. "I don't think this loss will affect anyone beyond tonight and maybe tomorrow."

After reviewing the film of today's game tomorrow, the Texans will have a day off to recuperate on Tuesday before returning to practice this Wednesday to focus on the Falcons.

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