HOUSTON — On “Football Night in America,” Tony Dungy offered his thoughts on the best way for the Texans to beat the Patriots. His message was to give the ball to Tom Brady.

“As crazy as it sounds,” Dungy said, “they’ve got to try to stop the Patriots from running the ball and force Tom Brady to throw to win the game.”

That does sound crazy. Just hand it to the GOAT and pray he doesn’t carve up your secondary.

But Dungy’s right. Brady has lost his cape, and the Patriots’ passing offense is a mess. It’s broken, and even though Antonio Brown continues to volunteer on Twitter to help out Sunday night flashing his Patriots highlights to the background music of “All I want for Christmas is You,” there’s no one left to fix it.

Don’t let the 28-22 score fool you. The Patriots may have rallied for a few touchdowns late to make it interesting, but the offense was just so brutal in the first half in particular. They had no chemistry whatsoever. The image is hard to erase.

The Texans didn’t stop the Patriots from running the ball. They just decided to stop running for some odd reason even though they were effective with Sony Michel smashing through the line using heavy personnel early on.

They put the ball in Brady’s hands all on their own initially, and all of the problems that have plagued the unit showed up at NRG Stadium Sunday night.

Between receivers not getting open, stopping short on routes or still not being on the same page with Brady, it looked more like a bad day at training camp, as opposed to Week 13 after Thanksgiving, when football season is supposed to start, according to Coach Bill Belichick.

Add in a slew of penalties nullifying some of the good plays they actually made, and it was a colossal failure in an important AFC matchup, with the loss dropping the Patriots to the second seed behind the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC.

As for the quarterback, he doesn’t get off the hook, either.

Brady (24 for 47 for 326 yards, 3 TDs) wasn’t sharp early on, and his lone interception in the first half was a killer. After the Patriots had taken a 3-0 lead on their opening drive, largely running the football, Brady tried to hit N’Keal Harry on a third-down play from the Patriots’ 25, but hit Bradley Roby instead, as the cornerback read the play and undercut the route. The Texans converted for a touchdown and never looked back.

On a night where the defense was vulnerable, allowing four touchdowns, the offense couldn’t respond. They haven’t shown the ability to bail out the defense, and it still doesn’t look promising going forward. That’s been Brady’s fear, and the reason behind all of his mopiness. It showed itself in spades Sunday night.

“I think we’re all trying to do a good job out there. Give (the Texans) credit. They played well. We didn’t make enough plays,” said Brady. “It just wasn’t a great game.”

Brady wasn’t quite as dejected or as morose as he was after the offense scored just 17 points in a win over Philadelphia three weeks ago. But he was certainly down, and also seemed a bit under the weather. The flu that ravaged the Patriots during the week appeared to have nailed the quarterback as well. But no one was using that as an excuse.

Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel does a good job with his defenses, and deserves some credit. But the Patriots helped his cause.

The Texans aren’t a good pass defense, don’t create many turnovers (30th in interception rate), and were 27th in sacks per pass attempt heading into the game. Brady had time to deliver. He just had no one to throw to. And when he did, there was something lacking in the execution.

“We got to give them credit, they played a good football game, but obviously, we didn’t play our best football game out there,” said James White. “We left a lot of plays out there, had some penalties, you just can’t play like that against good teams.”

Once again, Julian Edelman (6 catches, 106 yards, 1 TD) and White (8 catches, 98 yards, 2 TDs) are the only two receivers Brady trusts. Harry barely saw the field after the interception. Jakobi Meyers made some nice plays, several that were called back, but also clearly had some miscommunications with Brady. Even Phillip Dorsett was guilty of running to the wrong spot. Mohamed Sanu, meanwhile, dropped a key fourth-down conversion on a play the Patriots needed to have in the third quarter.

Brady, who at one point in the second quarter, attempted to fire up the offense while on the sideline, isn’t the same quarterback he was a decade ago – even five years ago – but it’s hard for any quarterback to get by with only two viable options.

Asked if he felt the group on offense was talented enough to take the team where it wanted to go, Brady didn’t answer with a yes or no.

“We’re battling. We’re trying as hard as we can, and hopefully we can make enough plays to be the best that we can be. It all remains to be seen. You can make a bunch of predictions, but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about going out there and doing it. A lot of guys made some plays out there tonight. We’ll try to build on it. “

The refrain is familiar. It won’t fly in January.

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