FOXBORO - If, as Bill Belichick suggested, the Houston Texans are a team that scripts its first few offensive series of a game, it certainly wasn't an Academy Award-winning script when his Patriots played them a month ago.
More like straight-to-DVD.
But the good teams usually learn from their experience, which is why Belichick doesn't think things will go the same way for his team as they did in the 42-14 triumph at Gillette Stadium when the two divisional champions meet again Sunday (4:30 p.m.; Ch. 4, 12) on the same field for the right to play in the AFC Championship Game.
Belichick said it's one thing to be able to plan for what he expects the Texans' script to be. It's another to start making your adjustments before the other guys make theirs.
"We try to take a look at what they're trying to do, why they selected the type of plays that they've selected in the first series and what does it look like they're trying to attack or how they're trying to play us," Belichick said Monday via conference call. "With a team like Houston that has some West Coast elements to it, you know that early in the game, there is a script portion or potential in the game and so that's also another thing you have to factor in. Teams that are script-type teams, it's how you want to treat that, because script isn't always necessarily the way the whole game goes. Sometimes a script is just a script."
Houston is likely to alter its approach according to what works and doesn't work in the scripted period. But the script can change rapidly because of changing game situations, Belichick added.
"You get halftime, (then the) fourth quarter, a lot of times, is just situational football based on the score, whatever the conditions happen to be," he said. "A lot of times, the game plan really only goes two, two and a half, three quarters depending on the way the game unfolds. And then a lot of times in the fourth quarter, you're just playing situational football or you've seen so much of the game that you're no longer in a game plan mode, you're (in the), 'Play the game the way this particular game is being played' mentality."
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said Monday that preparation for the Texans includes what might be expected, and what might be unexpected as it pertains to their offensive tendencies.
"If we can just get our guys to focus hard and prepare for exactly what we're going to see and then obviously adapt to the way the game goes, the better of we're going to be in those instances," Patricia said. "Obviously it's just a great challenge for us again because they are such a good offense. They are a balanced offense, one that can run the ball. When that running game gets going, it obviously sets up a lot of other things that they can do."
The last time out, the Patriots held the Texans' outstanding running back, Arian Foster, to just 45 yards, proving they could shut down the strength of the Houston offense. Belichick treats that performance by his team as if it happened in prehistoric times.
"I don't think anybody cares right now whether he gained 145 yards or 45 yards," Belichick said. "It's more about what we have to do as a defense to handle the plays that they run. Again, depending on what call we happen to be in then those responsibilities may shift or they do shift defensively.
"The stats and the score and all that, I don't think anybody really cares about that," he said. "The only thing we really care about is trying to defend what they do and know what we do so we can make the adjustments to it."