HOUSTON – Is it the bug's fault?
The flu-like symptoms that hit many New England Patriots players in recent days were apparently so severe that Bill Belichick's team used two chartered jets to fly to Houston – one for the healthy and one for the injured – but still did not prevent a sickly performance sickness on the setback of Sunday night.
Over the course of the week, the Patriots, at one point or another, listed 10 players on the injury injury report. The group included defender Kyle Van Noy, who arrived at NRG Stadium wearing a surgical mask and was one of five defensive players who played after being listed as ill.
Ryan Izzo was the only player excluded due to an illness but the 28-22 loss for texans – which cost the Patriots (10-2) lose control over # 1 seed in AFC playoffs – naturally raised questions about the effects the bug may have had on staging and performance.
"I think the guys fought a lot and you faced a lot of adversity throughout the season," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. "I think it had no effect on the game. I think trying to figure out how to do a better job for 60 minutes is the most important. I'm proud of the guys for the way they fought during the week."
In other words, the Patriots were not using the bug as any kind of excuse.
"It wasn't because someone was sick," said Duron Harmon. "At the end of the day, you need to play soccer."
Asked what factor illnesses had in the outcome, Belichick grumbled, "I don't know."
Maybe not. But they sure looked a little sick.
Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.