Their critics punched holes in 11-1, citing a soft schedule, trouble against top quarterbacks and a quarterback of their own who still has not really been in high-stakes games.
The amplitude of all of that will skyrocket now, after the Houston Texas turned in an unqualified 42-14 dud at Gillette Stadium against the New England Patriots. It was so bad the Texans basically waved a white flag early in the fourth quarter, huddling on offense rather than hustling to maximize their time, and running the ball on four consecutive plays.
The Texans still have a one-game lead on the Patriots in the AFC standings, and bigger edges on the other division leaders, Denver and Baltimore, whom they’ve beaten.
This clunker hardly undoes a great season that has three games plus playoffs remaining. But it does tell us three things about the near future for the Texans.