Texans: Patriots 'showed us what championship ball is'

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Texans: Patriots 'showed us what championship ball is'

FOXBORO -- To be the man, you've got to beat the man.

The 11-1 Houston Texans -- the AFC's top dog -- entered New England on Monday night looking to beat the defending AFC Champion Patriots.

It wasn't a playoff game at Gillette Stadium. But it certainly was a chance for the Texans to silence any critics that may exist or continue to "disrespect" them. They had something to prove.

But after the Patriots' 42-14 rout of the Texans in the national spotlight, the team with the best record in the NFL learned something on Monday night.

They are not the Patriots.

"It doesn't feel like we have 11 wins," said Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips after the loss. "It doesn't feel like we have more wins than New England right now."

They do though. The Patriots are now 10-3, and are currently in line to be the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs. So technically, the Patriots still aren't the top dog in the conference. But after Monday night's debacle, the Texans realize, neither are they.

"They showed us what championship ball is," said Houston linebacker Bradie James. "I think we put too much focus on this game as just a huge game, and not doing our approach as far as just going 1-0. And sometimes guys get a little tight, things get a little out of hand. But the Patriots played lights out in the first half. That's what it takes. I think they showed us what it takes to be a champion.

"Man, we just didn't play the way that we wanted to," added James. "But like I said, we got that example, as far as the intensity, the way you have to come out and you have to play when you come into somebody's house. These guys have been good for so long, and so, we know now. We know. And it's up to us to just man up, take this one. We've got to take it on the chin, and get ready to go back to work."

Quarterback Matt Schaub described the loss as "humbling" afterwards. He finished the game 19-of-32 for 232 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception.

His first-quarter interception that ended up in the hands of Devin McCourty led to a 14-0 Patriots lead. But to some, this one was over well before that.

"We got our tails kicked," said Texans coach Gary Kubiak.

"I mean, the first play of the game we line up wrong," said Kubiak. "So that's really concerning. You know what you're fixing to do on the first play of the game for about three days, and then you line up wrong and get a penalty. That's concerning."

Houston received the ball first, but before they even could snap the ball, they got penalized for an illegal formation.

"Before we knew it, it was 21-0," said James. "We had to settle down and get back to doing some things. We had to stop them on third down. We were not getting off the field on third down. And that was our achilles heel, especially in that first half, first quarter."

It was over early, for sure. And the Texans learned that, regardless of their record, they're still not the top dog in the AFC. Not with the way the Patriots beat them on Monday night.

And Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson summed it all up perfectly.

"They just gave gave us a good ass-whooping," said Johnson. "That's pretty much it."

Celtics force overtime, come up short in 127-123 loss to Blazers

Celtics force overtime, come up short in 127-123 loss to Blazers

BOSTON – For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics ran into a team that played with a greater sense of desperation.

And the result was yet another defeat as the Portland Trail Blazers, playing their second game in less than 24 hours, were able to get off their losing skid with a 127-123 overtime win over the Celtics.

Boston (26-17) has now lost back-to-back games at home, while the Blazers (19-27) snapped a four-game losing streak.

In the extra session, Portland jumped out to a 117-113 lead only for Boston’s Al Horford scoring on a bank-shot in the paint and Thomas draining a go-ahead 3-pointer for Boston.

Portland regained the lead when Al-Farouq Aminu made a pair of free throws with 59.3 seconds to play to make it a 119-118 game.

Boston soon fell behind 122-118, but a pair of Thomas free throws with 44.8 seconds to play made it a two-point game.

Mason Plumlee scored with 24 seconds to play in overtime, and an Al Horford miss – rebounded by Plumlee who was then fouled by Horford – essentially put the game away with 13.5 seconds to play.

Boston found themselves down late in the fourth quarter and seemingly headed towards defeat, only to get an unexpected lift in the final seconds from Terry Rozier.

Trailing by three points late in the fourth, Boston had one last chance to force overtime so who did they turn to?

If you were thinking Thomas which is what the Blazers and most fans were thinking, you would have been dead wrong.

The fourth quarter may be Thomas’ time to shine, but at that point in the game it was Rozier’s moment as he drained a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left that ultimately forced overtime. He finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists off the bench.

The Blazers came into the game with the kind of potent scoring punch in the backcourt that strikes the fear into the heart of any defense, let alone one that has been as up and down as the Boston Celtics this season.

For most of the game, Portland’s 1-2 punch of Damian Lillard (28 points) and C.J. McCollum (35 points) lived up to the lofty billing as they combined for 63 points.

McCollum and Lillard both did their share of damage down the stretch, but it was their bench – specifically Meyers Leonard – whose play kept Portland in the game early on.

He finished with 17 points off the bench.

Boston led 65-56 at the half, but soon found itself in a 67-all game after McCollum made the second of two free throws.

But Boston countered with a put-back basket by Kelly Olynyk and a 3-pointer from Isaiah Thomas to push Boston’s lead to 72-67.

Once again the Blazers fought back and eventually took the lead 74-72 on a powerful put-back dunk by Haverill (Mass.) native Noah Vonleh.

Brad Stevens had seen enough of his team getting pushed around, as he called a time-out with 5:31 to play in the quarter.

It didn’t help as Portland continued to bully their way around the rim for second and third-shot opportunities with their lead peaking at 78-72 following a put-back basket by  Plumlee.

But the Celtics responded with a 7-2 spurt capped off by an end-to-end, driving lay-up by Rozier that cut Portland’s lead to 80-79 with 2:44 to play in the quarter. Boston continued to be within striking distance as the third quarter ended with the Celtics trailing 88-86.