The Texans were within eight points of the Patriots in the fourth quarter on Saturday night. But missed opportunities doomed them.
In the aftermath of Saturday night's 34-16 loss at New England, linebacker Whitney Mercilus boiled down the result in three simple, accurate sentences.
"They beat us fair and square," Mercilus said. "We didn't capitalize in critical moments. That's all it was."
Twice the Texans defense picked off Tom Brady, and the special teams unit came up with a takeaway on a return. But quarterback Brock Osweiler threw three interceptions of his own.
"We were in the game," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "Obviously, we couldn't turn it over. Our defense played as good as they could play."
Cornerback A.J. Bouye, who tallied one of the two interceptions against Brady, said he could've done more.
"We gotta score on defense," Bouye said. "I felt like we had many opportunities. We had guys blocking for us but we were just too busy running around instead of going to the nearest sideline like Coach told us."
Osweiler tossed a 10-yard touchdown to C.J. Fiedorowicz in the second quarter, and it pulled the Texans to within 14-13. He also saw two other would-be touchdown passes dropped by receivers in the end zone.
"We had a couple opportunities early in the game and even later in the game to make plays as an offense and put our team in a great position, and we weren't able to make those plays," Osweiler said.
On special teams in the first quarter, the kickoff coverage unit surrendered a 98-yard touchdown return by Dion Lewis. But in the second quarter, they popped the ball loose from Lewis and were able to strike with the Fiedorowicz score.
The Texans and Patriots faced each other in the Divisional Playoff at Gillette Stadium.