x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

NFL: Houston out to avoid takeaway problems against Patriots

Gary Kubiak, the Texans coach, is focusing on ensuring his side keep the ball against the best team in the NFL for relieving their opponents of possession.

New England Patriots coach Gary Kubiak.
New England Patriots coach Gary Kubiak.

HOUSTON // As his team prepare for a play-off game at New England, the greatest concern of Gary Kubiak, the Houston Texans coach, is the Patriots' skill at taking the ball from opponents.

The Patriots have 25 more takeaways than giveaways, the best in the NFL. The Texans were seventh-best, with a plus-12 margin.

When the teams met last month, the quarterback Matt Schaub threw an interception on Houston's second drive, contributing to an early 14-0 deficit in a 42-14 win by the Patriots.

"They get them," Kubiak said of the Patriots and turnovers. "They don't give it up. If we go in there and do anything to help them we're in trouble."

Kubiak is also preaching the importance of taking advantage of opportunities. He was unhappy with Houston's inability to do that in the first meeting with the Patriots.

"Missed opportunities, they hurt all the time, but against these guys they're a lot worse because of what they do offensively and how good they are," Kubiak said.

"When you get opportunities to go down there and score some points, you better. You better not hurt yourself. They're going to make plays and we understand that, but we got to find a way to make quite a few ourselves."

Another component of that will be for Houston to score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals, as the Texans did against the Bengals last weekend. Houston dominated the first half of that game, out-gaining Cincinnati 250 yards to 53, but led by only two points at half time after kicking three field goals.

"We've just got to finish," Kubiak said. "We moved the heck out of the ball and had a good day, offensively. We've got to finish, got to put those points on the board."

That is particularly true this week, when the Texans face a New England team averaging an NFL-best 34.8 points per game. Houston are averaging 26 points, but managed more than 20 points just once in the past five games.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE