HOUSTON -- Another trip to New England awaits the Houston Texans, and coach Gary Kubiak knows what his team has to do to have a chance against the Patriots in the second round of the playoffs. "We had a rough trip up there last time, but weve earned our right to go back," Kubiak said. "We want to go back and play a heck of a lot better than we did." The AFC East champion Patriots trounced the Texans 42-14 at Foxborough on Dec. 10, and Houston gets another shot after beating Cincinnati 19-13 in Saturdays wild-card game. Houston had lost just one game this season before that loss began a terrible month where the Texans lost three of their last four regular-season games to fall out of the top seed in the AFC. The Texans did enough to beat the Bengals, but they have to figure out a way to score touchdowns against a New England team that averages 34.8 points per game. Houston got in the red zone four times on Saturday, and settled for field goals three of those times after the offence stalled. "Get in the red zone, playing New England, we have to get touchdowns," left tackle Duane Brown said. "Youve got to do a better job up front, whatever play is called ... cant settle for field goals. Everyone was pretty disappointed and that was a good thing. Were disappointed we got field goals and thats a sign of a great team, great offence, and well look at it and see what corrections need to be made." Making his first post-season start, quarterback Matt Schaub threw an interception which was returned for a touchdown before halftime on Saturday. But he shook off the mistake to finish 29 of 38 for 262 yards. Schaub missed last seasons playoff run with an injured foot. He believes the recent trip to New England will help the Texans in this visit. The Texans were 6-0 on the road before the debacle at New England. "What we learned and the situations we were in a month ago, we can definitely pull from that," Schaub said. "Weve been down that road. We know what it takes to win and thats play good road football. We didnt do that last time we played up there." Houston had struggled on both sides of the ball on third down recently, but fixed that problem on Saturday. The Texans entered Saturdays game having converted just 15 of 49 third-down attempts in their last four games. On Saturday, they converted 47 per cent of their third down attempts. The Texans defence is looking to build on the solid performance it turned in against the Bengals. Houston held the Bengals to 198 yards on Saturday. "Im not the biggest believer in momentum in the world, but it definitely feels good to get back in our rhythm, get back to doing what we do," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "Were going to have some good film to watch because if were going to go up there and beat them we need to play a game like we played (Saturday). Offense holding the ball, defence getting off the field on third down." Arian Foster powered Houstons offence on Saturday with a season-high 32 carries for 140 yards. He had just 46 yards rushing in the loss at New England, and is looking forward to proving that this team is much better than the one that showed up the last time in Foxborough. "They have a great coach and a great quarterback and they have great role players on their team," Foster said of the Patriots. "I have a lot of respect for them, but we can play ball, too. We didnt play our best football up there and we hurt ourselves with penalties and mistakes. Anytime you give them opportunities, theyll take advantage of them. But well play our best up there." Pink Eli Manning Jersey
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.500 barely a month into the season, the Toronto Blue Jays try to bring a stop to a three-game slide Saturday afternoon as they clash with the Seattle Mariners in the second of a three- game set at Rogers Centre.Safety discussions are dominating Formula One as the series heads to the Italian Grand Prix after a scary near-miss over the weekend. Championship leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari nearly had his head clipped when Romain Grosjeans Lotus flew over him in a wild, multi-car accident at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix. Grosjean went for a small gap and clipped Lewis Hamiltons McLaren. That sent both cars spinning and Grosjeans Lotus went airborne over Alonsos Ferrari, which then took out Sergio Perezs Sauber. "The risk was large and seeing another car flying over one of ours, just a few centimetres from his helmet, made us feel like our hearts were in our throats for a few dozen seconds," Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said. Grosjean was banned for one race and will be replaced by Jerome DAmbrosio at Lotus this weekend. Alonso said immediately afterward that he "felt a train coming with a big, big hit," while Hamilton briefly confronted Grosjean after the accident. Alonso said Tuesday that he felt no ill will toward Grosjean. "Weve spoken about it," Alonso said in an online chat with Ferrari fans. "I have a good relationship with him. We were teammates at Renault and after the accident he sent me an SMS saying he was sorry and that he hadnt calculated the distance well." Yet the close call has brought up a fresh round of chatter about safety in the open-cockpit series. Ideas being debated run from some sort of cage around drivers heads to adding rear-wheel bumpers to employing running starts. Others have called for a penalty system in which two warnings for reckless driving would bar drivers from the next race. There has not been a fatality in Formula One since Brazilian great Ayrton Senna died following a crash at San Marino in 1994, but safety concerns continue to come up. In 2009, Renault was suspended from the European Grand Prix after Alonsos right front wheel came off and bounced wildly down the track during the Hungarian GP. That same year, Felipe Massa of Ferrari was badly hurt after being struck in the helmet by a stray part from another car and slamming into a protective tire barrier at high speed during qualifying. Alonso said he is against running starts. "You would carry even more speed into the first corner and you would also lose one of the best moments in F1, where youve got to calculate the risk, be very alert and make decisions," the Spanish driver said. "Its too big a part of the show." For Alonso, the Italian GP represents a chance to bounce back and pad his 24-point lead over Red Bulls Sebastian Vettell.dddddddddddd A year ago at Monza, Alonso shot up from fourth to first at the first chicane but he was soon overtaken by Vettel, who cruised to victory. This year is different, with no car thus far proving to be clearly the fastest. That could change at Monza, where average speeds are 250 kph (155 mph) and top speeds get up to 340 kph (210 mph), making it the fastest circuit on the calendar. McLaren-Mercedes Jenson Button led from start to finish in Spa and has finished second at Monza for the past three years. "I head to Monza absolutely full of motivation after a fantastic result in Spa," Button said. "It was the perfect weekend for me. Its not only put me back in contention for the drivers championship, but its shown that we have a car that can definitely fight for the constructors title." Button is sixth in the drivers standings, 63 points behind Alonso, and McLaren is second to Red Bull in the constructors standings, 54 points back. "Monza is one of the greatest circuits in the world and our car seems to be particularly well suited to high-speed circuits, so Im optimistic that well be competitive again this weekend," Button said. Built in 1922 in a royal park north of Milan, Monza is one of F1s iconic circuits. The Italian GP is one of only four races to have survived from the first year of F1 in 1950, and the crumbling banking that formed part of the original Monza layout was still adjacent to the modern track. "For me, theres something about Formula Ones older circuits thats very special," Hamilton said. "Despite each being very different, the newer tracks all seem to have the same character and the same sort of rhythm, but the older circuits are very different. "They feel like the land has shaped and influenced them rather than the other way around. I like that -- it means you never fall into any particular comfort zone and youre always pushing the car one way or the other to get the best from any lap." Alonso won with Ferrari at Monza in 2010, having taken his first victory at the track in 2007 with McLaren-Mercedes. "Its always special and the expectations are very high," Alonso said. "From a drivers point of view its a strange circuit, though. There are only five curves and two chicanes, which dont give you much of a chance to make an impact. Its not difficult for a driver but you need a very fast car on the straights." Meanwhile, Ma Qing Hua is slated to become the first Chinese driver to take part in an F1 weekend when he replaces Narain Karthikeyan at HRT for the first practice session. ' ' '