New England rallied back from a 17-7 halftime deficit to beat Houston 34-31 Sunday evening.
Some players were asked in the postgame what adjustments were made to inspire a 27-point outpouring of offense. The general response? Better execution.
Head coach Bill Belichick went into more detail Monday on how his team turned it around. Some of the credit went to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
"As the game went on, we were able to see how Houston was going to match up to our different personnel groups and we had several groups that we used yesterday," Belichick said. "I think Josh did a good job of mixing the groups. Let’s say defensively when you’re facing a team that uses a lot of personnel groups, it’s hard to have a lot of things ready for a lot of different groups. It’s just hard to have a game plan where you have eight or nine different calls against seven, eight groups. You just run out of time to practice it and time to work on it."
New England employed "regular" personnel -- two receivers, one tight end, two backs -- in multiple formations used in the second half. Consequently, fullback James Develin had a career night with two carries for four yards and a touchdown, and one reception for 12 yards. Four Patriots pass catchers had five or more grabs, with tight end Rob Gronkowski (six catches for 127 yards) and Julian Edelman (nine catches for 101 yards) leading the charge.
Houston, who entered the game with the league's best pass defense, surrendered 371 yards and two touchdowns to quarterback Tom Brady.
"When you get it down to two or three things and Tom can recognize by formations what the defenses are, that can get you into a good play or give you a quick indication of where to go with the ball, so we didn’t have to hold it, we could get it out there quick and find the receivers that had the best matchups," Belichick explained.
"The different personnel groups I think ended up being helpful for us in terms of getting good plays, or plays that we felt comfortable with, matched up against what the Texans were doing."