Antonio Smith may have been frustrated that the Texans lost their 10th straight game after they gave up 27 second half-points to the Patriots, as they watched a 17-7 halftime lead flip into a 34-31 defeat Sunday.
Perhaps the defensive end was bothered by the fact that he and J.J. Watt, one of the league’s more ferocious pass rushers, could not get near Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the second half.
Brady was well-protected by his offensive line as he threw for 263 yards and a touchdown in the final two quarters, and the Patriots scored on five consecutive possessions.
After the game, Smith indicated he was suspicious of the Patriots’ ability to make timely second-half adjustments.
While the Texans had no answer for the Patriots Sunday, New England coach Bill Belichick wasn’t expansive Monday when asked about Smith’s intimations about “spying,” remaining tight-lipped when asked about Smith’s comments.
“Yeah, I saw them,” Belichick said during his weekly conference call. “I don’t have any comment on them. That’s a league matter.”
Linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who had four tackles Sunday, called Smith’s words “silly” during his appearance on WEEI’s “Mut & Merloni” show Monday.
“It’s kind of a silly comment,” Ninkovich said. “I’m sure they’re a little upset that in the second half they couldn’t stop Tom and our offense. It’s a comment where I really don’t know where that would come from.
“That’s a tough loss. When you lose 10 in a row, I’m sure there’s a ton of frustration in that locker room.”
After the game, Smith told reporters, “Either teams are spying on us or scouting us . . . I don’t know what it is. We had some ways that we were going to play this week that just got put in this week, and it was just miraculous that they changed up some things that they did on offense and keyed on what we put in this week to stop what they were doing. It was things that they had never done before out here. It just seems miraculous to me.”
Smith apologized Monday for using the word ‘‘spying,’’ but he didn’t exactly back down from his initial comments. He claimed that he thought reporters in Houston knew him well enough to know that he could be joking and still be curious about the situation at the same time.
Brady dismissed what Smith said Sunday during his weekly appearance on WEEI, the 14-year veteran having been through this before, most notably during the 2007 “Spygate” incident, in which the NFL disciplined the Patriots for videotaping other teams’ signals.
Brady quickly turned his focus to the team’s home matchup against the Browns Sunday, and to the team playing better from the opening kickoff.
The Patriots have trailed at halftime in three straight games, and four of the last five.
“Truthfully, we just played a little bit better in the second half,” Brady said.
“We’ve kind of been through a lot of this before, so I don’t really think much of it, truthfully. I just kind of have moved on. I’ve already started work on the Browns and trying to figure out a way to play those guys better and get off to a better start.”
Injuries have depleted the Patriots at right tackle, starting with Sebastian Vollmer, who’s out for the season with a broken leg, and backup Marcus Cannon, who is out with an ankle injury.
That left the Patriots with third-stringer Will Svitek, a 31-year-old veteran who had just 16 starts in eight seasons entering Sunday.
But Svitek proved more than capable Sunday, as he helped New England’s front five fend off the Texans pass rush, anchored by Watt, Smith, and linebackers Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed.
Brady was hit just five times Sunday, and was not sacked in the second half.
“I think Will really hung in there,” Belichick said. “That’s a good front. It’s a lot of matchups against good football players.
“I thought he did a good job hanging in there and battling. Obviously they made a few plays, but not too many. The same thing with Nate [Solder] on the other side, so it was a good job by both those guys against real good competition.”
Day of rest
For the second straight week, Belichick gave the Patriots a rest day on Monday. Last week, the Patriots had Monday off after completing an electric comeback against the Broncos, as they took another 34-31 win, this one after trailing, 24-0, at the half. “Given the Monday night game in Carolina then the late Sunday game last week, now the travel from Houston, in the best interest of the team, I just felt like [Monday] would be a good day for everybody to get their rest, get their treatment, continue to do their postgame workouts,” Belichick said. “But for us as a staff to be ready for the players to come in here, to be mentally ready to absorb all the information that we need to give them today, if we could even get it all to a good presentation for them, I’m not sure that would be the most efficient way to do it, so we’re not doing it.” . . . The Patriots re-signed offensive lineman R.J. Dill to the practice squad and released tackle Patrick Ford from the practice squad. Dill, a 6-foot-6-inch, 316-pounder, was signed by the Jaguars as a rookie free agent out of Rutgers and was released Aug. 30 before signing with New England.