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Pats corner Ryan keeps Texans’ Hopkins at bay

The Patriots knew they’d have to keep budding star receiver DeAndre Hopkins in check to help avoid their first three-game losing streak in 212 games.

Mission accomplished, thanks to an impressive game by the defensive line and cornerback Logan Ryan.

Hopkins, like much of the Houston Texans offense in last night’s 27-6 loss to the Patriots, was largely ineffective for 60 minutes. Houston finished with just seven first downs, and the Patriots swarmed the Texans offensive line and finished with six sacks.

Some players require defenders to spend more time in the film room, and Hopkins, who has catches in 45 straight games, is one of them.

“He is a good player, and that is a tough matchup,” said Ryan, who finished with three tackles and two passes defended. “He is a way better player than he was (in 2013), and I am a better player than I was. I watched a lot of film. I watched every play he’s been a part of, I watched every route he’s run, and it paid off.”

Ryan held Hopkins to just two catches when they were both rookies in 2013. Last night, Hopkins tallied just 52 yards receiving on three catches, leaving the Texans’ best offensive threat without a big play until the Pats had the game well in hand.

The Patriots double-teamed Hopkins, and it was so effective that he used the term “outcoached” several times in his post-game remarks.

“They outcoached us. They outplayed us,” Hopkins said. “I was doubled the whole game. They just had a good game plan against us. They outcoached us. They outplayed us.”

Just last week, Hopkins set Houston’s franchise record for touchdown catches in a season (10) and he’s a big reason why the Texans still control their own playoff destiny. With three games left, Hopkins set a career high in receiving yards with 1,169.

“It helps when the defensive line plays that well, with the linebackers creating so much pressure,” Ryan said. “That definitely made my job a lot easier.”

Hopkins accounted for 40 yards on one reception early in the fourth quarter, but that catch came after the Patriots extended their lead to 21 points on a 2-yard touchdown run by James White.

“I should not have let him catch that deep one at the end,” Ryan said. “But I can learn from that. That is what gets me in the facility early tomorrow and keep working.”

Ryan looked better against Houston than he did in the previous two games — losses against Denver and Philadelphia. He has not recorded an interception since Nov. 8 at Washington, when he finished a stretch of four picks in seven games.

“I am definitely getting more confident as the season goes on,” Ryan said. “These are the kind of games where I want to be playing my best ball, so it is working out. When everyone said (this defense) was kind of falling off, we put our heads down, went to work.”



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Neil S. Schwartz

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