FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Put Houston Texans owner Bob McNair down as being in Matt Schaub's corner.
McNair spoke highly of the embattled quarterback after seeing his franchise's season end in the second round for the second straight year.
"I thought Matt was very gutty," McNair said, just outside the Texans' locker room in the bowels of Gillette Stadium. "A few times when we were in position, he made good throws and passes got dropped.
"I thought he played well."
Schaub finished with 343 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, throwing the ball 51 times (11 more than Tom Brady) and recording a 90.6 quarterback rating. Brady's was 115.0 after a fairly January-typical 344-yard, three-touchdowns, no-interception performance.
"I thought Matt was very gutty. A few times when we were in position, he made good throws and passes got dropped. I thought he played well."
Brady and Baltimore's Joe Flacco will now face off for the AFC Championship for the second straight year while Schaub sits home.
"There is no doubt that I belong," Schaub said when asked if he feels he stacks up with the quarterbacks still playing in the NFL's final four. "I think I belong right up there with every one of them."
It seems like McNair feels the same way. The owner is certainly confident about the Texans (13-5) taking the next step and getting to an AFC title game, a Super Bowl.
"We're very close," McNair said. "Last year and this year for some reason, players we lost to injury happened to be some of our key players."
McNair noted how he thought the Patriots took advantage of middle linebacker Brian Cushing's absence in particular. Cushing was lost for the season in early October and should be back for the beginning of next season.
The owner went on to talk of continuing to make smart additions through the draft and targeted free-agent buys, though not big money free agents. McNair made it clear that was unlikely with the team's salary cap situation. He also lamented the location of this second round exit.
"We had a chance to have this game at our place and we didn't grab it," McNair said of the Texans late-season tumble out of the AFC's No. 1 seed position.
". . . We're very close, we've just got to realize that though and make it happen."