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Houston Texans let doubt creep in after loss to Patriots

The Houston Texans still deserve to be on the short list of the AFC's best teams. But a second prime-time loss to a high-profile opponent has allowed a sliver of doubt to creep into the conversation.

The Texans rolled into Foxborough in letterman jackets. They rolled out with their tails between their legs following an ugly 42-14 loss to the New England Patriots on Monday night.

"How you respond to defeat, or how you respond to not playing well, says a lot about your team," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said.

At 11-2, the Texans remain in good position to grab the conference's top playoff seed. Win out, and the AFC playoffs go through Reliant Stadium. But this also is the Texans' second prime-time stinker against top competition. Back in Week 6, the Texans -- undefeated at the time -- were humbled at home in a blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Now it was the Patriots' turn to send a message. The Texans were trailing 21-0 in the second quarter before the defense found a way to slow Tom Brady & Co. The offense never figured it out.

This isn't all on Matt Schaub, who was let down by his receivers on some key third-down conversion attempts. But Schaub also stumbled in his own right, struggling with his accuracy and throwing a damaging early interception that changed the tenor of the game.

No one expects Schaub to be Brady, but this performance will stick to the Texans quarterback. Remember, Schaub has zero playoff experience. He remains a wild card in a sense, and Monday night provides pause.

You can say that for the Texans in general.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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