The last time the Texans traveled to Gillette Stadium in Week 3, Duane Brown could do nothing but watch.
The Pro Bowl left tackle had not been cleared to return after his quadriceps surgery and Houston fell 27-0, in its worst loss of the season.
Being on the road in that game, watching that from the sidelines, just the kind of game it was – it was very, very tough to deal with you know just tried to do my part being as vocal as I could as a leader," Brown said. "So being back and being able to contribute now and go up there mans a lot to me."
Since Brown's return in Week 5, the Texans offense has felt the impact of his contributions on the field. From Weeks 6-14, Houston rushed for over 100 yards in eight consecutive games and finished eighth in the NFL with 1,859 rushing yards for the season.
This time, when the Texans return to New England for the AFC Divisional playoff game, Brown will be ready to go.
"He's an outstanding player, both in the run and pass and he does a great job in pass protection," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "Big, athletic, long and also really helps them in the running game. He makes a big difference on all the plays, particularly the outside plays that (Lamar) Miller and (Alfred) Blue do such a great job on. He's a big addition to that group and outstanding player. He's one of the best left tackles in the league."
Brown has played every snap at left tackle from Week 6 through 16. He also returned for the AFC Wild Card round, a game he missed last year after undergoing surgery, and helped pave the way for Houston's offense to have one of its best games all season.
In his nine seasons, the veteran offensive lineman has been a part of every Divisional Playoff game in franchise history, including the last one on Jan. 13, 2013, which also took place against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
"He's one of the definite leaders of this team," head coach Bill O'Brien said Tuesday. "He's a captain, he's a guy that when he came back from an injury that's very difficult to come back from in that stage in your career, when he came back we were able to basically improve our running game instantly and our pass protection. Look, the guy is very tough. Just personally, I have a lot of respect for Duane and I'm just really glad that he's back where he's at and playing at the level that's he's playing at."
The Texans will travel to Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots for the AFC Divisional game on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.
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