Across nine years and five teams, Brandon Lloyd never played in the postseason.
Now, in his 10th season, his wait is finally over.
Lloyd is excited for his playoff debut on Sunday in New England's divisional-round game against the Houston Texans. Cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive end Trevor Scott also are looking forward to theirs after four non-playoff years each.
Since he was "a kid, the ultimate goal is to play in the Super Bowl, and the only way to get to the Super Bowl is to make it to the playoffs," Lloyd said. "This is a step along the way to the ultimate goal for all of us. For all the teams that have entered the playoffs, this is just the beginning."
The receiver was with the Washington Redskins when they got there in 2007, but he missed the last eight regular-season games and a wild-card loss with an injury.
But he made a smart decision this offseason. The likelihood of making the playoffs with the Patriots contributed to his choice of signing as a free agent. There was a good chance that a team that had reached the postseason in nine of the past 11 years would get there again.
The 49ers, Bears, Broncos and Rams never got that far while Lloyd was there. So he had little interest in watching the playoffs while on vacation all those years.
"If it was on the television in the hotel lobby or something" he might take a peek, he said.
Scott spent his first four seasons with Oakland and never even had a winning record. He's contributed this season as a backup with three sacks in the past five games.
"It's pretty different. I'm definitely excited," said Scott, who signed as a free agent last March. "I'm just happy to be where I am now."
The Patriots acquired Talib on Nov. 1 in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he played his first game for the Patriots on Nov. 11 after completing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
"I never got a chance to participate in the postseason," he said. "First chance, I'm definitely looking forward to it."
He expects the intensity to be heightened but his nervousness to be minimal.
"I've never been in the postseason, but I'm not a rookie," Talib said. "So once we get out there and the game starts, it's still football."
Texans' defense healthier for rematch
The first time Houston faced the Patriots, top cornerback Johnathan Joseph played while still struggling to get healthy, and outside linebacker Brooks Reed sat out with an injury.
That game turned into an embarrassing 42-14 loss. Now both are back to full strength, and the Texans believe that makes their defense much stronger this time around.
"Right now, I can probably say this is the best I've felt all year," Joseph said.
Joseph, who often shadows the opponent's best receiver, knows that he and the rest of the secondary will have their hands full. Not only must they deal with New England's receivers, but also its tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski didn't play in the first game against Houston.