BOSTON (CBS) – Follow along for all the updates from the Patriots’ matchup with the Houston Texans.
Final — Patriots 34, Texans 31: It wasn’t pretty, but the Patriots beat the Texans to improve to 9-3 on the season and give them their 13th straight winning season.
This was far from perfect, as the Pats got off to another sluggish start and needed their second consecutive 10-point comeback to come out victorious.
The offense, despite the slow start, was hitting on all cylinders in the second half. Tom Brady finished 29-of-41 for 371 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Rob Gronkowski (six receptions for 127 yards) and Julian Edelman (nine catches for 101 yards) did most of the damage, catching a touchdown each.
The defense struggled mightily in this one, giving up 385 total yards and 121 on the ground. The Texans had rushed for just two touchdowns all season before today, but Ben Tate found the end zone three times and quarterback Case Keenum also ran one in.
But, the Patriots improved to 9-3 with the win, and are in the driver’s seat for one of the two top seeds in the AFC over the final four weeks of the season.
We’ll be breaking this one down all evening, so stick with CBSBostonsports.com, WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub for all the reaction and analysis from Houston.
4th Quarter, 2:00: The Patriots brought the pressure, and Keenum couldn’t do anything.
Ninkovich and Carter collapse the pocket and Keenum was forced to throw it away to no one.
As bad as they played, the Patriots are just two minutes away from their ninth win of the season.
4th Quarter, 2:07: The Patriots D gave up some big plays to start this drive, but have the Texans facing a 4th-and-13 at their own 43 with 2:07 left in this one.
The Patriots defense may only need to make one more stop to secure the victory in this one.
4th Quarter, 3:12 — Patriots 34-31: Brady went to Gronk on third down, but couldn’t complete the pass.
No worries though, as it set up another 53-yarder by Gostkowski to give New England a 34-31 lead late in the quarter.
4th Quarter, 4:05: Rob Gronkowski just came up with a huge 17-yard reception on a third-and-three, but appears to have tweaked his ankle a bit on the play.
He’s up to 127 receiving yards on the day, and is back out there, so it doesn’t look like the tweak is too much to worry about.
4th Quarter, 6:54: The Patriots defense comes up with the stop that has alluded them this second half, forcing what could be a key three-and-out by the Texans.
They benefited by a pair of drops by Graham and Johnson, but Chandler Jones applied some pressure on third down and forced Keenum to throw it to no one.
The Pats take over now on their own 33-yard line.
4th Quarter, 7:21 — Texans 31, Patriots 31: Stephen Gostkowski missed earlier, but just booted a 53-yarder to tie things up at 31.
The Patriots drove to the Houston 32 before stalling. Brady’s first-down pass for Gronk was tipped at the line, and Vereen lost three yards on a second down run. Brady’s third down pass over the middle for Gronk fell incomplete, and the Pats had to settle for the game-tying field goal.
Now it’s up to the defense to make a stop, which they have done just once today.
4th Quarter, 11:35 — Texans 31, Patriots 28: The Patriots are not going to win this one if the defense cannot come up with a stop.
On the first play of the drive, Kyle Arrington completely lost Deandre Hopkins who burned him for a 66-yard reception. Arrington also missed a tackle on the play, giving Hopkins another 10+ yards after the catch.
A few plays later, Ben Tate took it in from 10 yards out for his third rushing touchdown of the day, putting Houston back on top 31-28. Tate 104 yards and 3 touchdowns on 21 carries this afternoon.
4th Quarter, 13:09 — Patriots 28-24: The Patriots offense keeps answering in the second half.
The Patriots put together a great nine-play drive, capped off with a seven-yard touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount on a quick-snap to take a 28-24 lead.
Julian Edelman came up with a huge eight-yard catch on third-and-8 right before Blount’s run, and leads the way for New England with seven catches on the afternoon.
Shane Vereen missed another back shoulder catch on what would have been a touchdown pass from Brady on the drive. As big of a weapon Vereen is out of the backfield and in the passing game, the back can’t seem to make that play — ever.
End 3rd Quarter — Texans 24, Patriots 21: The Patriots are driving as this one hits the fourth quarter.
Shane Vereen picked up 14 yards on the ground to start the drive, and Brady followed that up by hitting Develin with a 12-yard pass. A few plays later, Brady hit a wide open Rob Gronkowski for 16 yards, setting New England up at the Houston 36 as the quarter came to an end.
3rd Quarter, 2:11 — Texans 24, Patriots 21: The Texans have the lead back as the porous Patriots defense returns.
Keenum hit Andre Johnson for 28 yards on the first play of the drive, and hit his tight end Graham a few plays later for another 17 yards.
With Houston in the red zone, Ben Tate found a huge hole on a first down run and took it nine yards up the middle. Dont’a Hightower had a bad miss on the play, as Tate took the ball down to the Patriots’ 5-yard line.
After stuffing Tate to force a third-and-one for the Texans, Keenum kept it and ran in Houston’s third rushing touchdown of the afternoon (they had two rushing touchdowns all season before today).
That marks the first Houston touchdown in the third quarter in the last three games.
3rd Quarter, 8:06 — Patriots 21- Texans 17: The Patriots have arrived, just in time for the second half of this one.
Brady performed surgery on the Houston defense on this drive, capping it all off with a nine-yard touchdown to Shane Vereen — the back’s first score of the season.
The seven play, 73-yard drive took just over three minutes off the block, as Brady went 5-for-6 for 70 yards on the drive. He is 7-for-8 for 139 yards and touchdown in the third quarter.
3rd Quarter, 11:10: The Patriots defense does their part, forcing Houston into a three-and-out on their first possession.
Tate picked up nine yards on a second-and-10 run, but was stuffed at the line by Joe Vellano on third down to force a punt.
The Pats will take over on their own 27-yard line after an 11-yard punt return from Edelman.
3rd Quarter, 12:41 — Texans 17, Patriots 14: The Patriots first drive of the second half was all about extra effort, and that extra effort on two plays has the Patriots within a field goal.
Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 50-yards on a 2nd-and-11 play, with Gronk dragging a pair of Houston defenders an extra 10 yards to the Houston 13. Gronk wasn’t brought down at all on the play, just pushed out of bounds.
A few plays later, fullback James Develin made three or four extra pushes towards the end zone from the one-yard line, punching it in for his first career touchdowns.
The Patriots came out of the locker room determined to find the end zone on their first possession, and they did just that. Now it’s the defenses turn to show their halftime adjustments.
Halftime — Texans 17, Patriots 10: The Patriots couldn’t do anything on their final possession before the half, and hit the locker room down 10 to the 2-9 Texans.
It was another slow start for the Patriots, both on offense and defense. There have been many holes in the secondary, and mixed with the tackling issues that is plaguing the Pats today, it has allowed the Texans to pick up big yards on a few different plays.
Brady is 11-for-18 for 108 yards with a touchdown and interception. He’s been off on a number of his throws, and started to feel the pressure of the Houston pass-rush as the half came to an end.
Tate is having a huge day for Houston on the ground, rushing for 61 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns.
You could expect a letdown before the game after the last two games coming against playoff teams in primetime, but the Patriots have to get things together or they’ll drop their fourth straight road game on the season. Expect to see more pressure on Keenum in the second half, and hopefully the Patriots can figure out their tackling issues.
The good news is the Texans have led at halftime in four of their last fives games, and went on to lose each of them. So the Patriots have that going for them.
Here are some highs and lows from the second quarter from WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid:
– Pats start the second quarter and they have some injury news. Kenbrell Thomkpins has a hip injury and his return is questionable.
– Texans have to the ball to start the quarter and they move down the field. Keenum to Keshawn Martin for 27 yards puts the ball at the Pats 22, but then the defense steps up. Andre Carter had a hit on Keenum while he was throwing and Logan Ryan was there for the interception.
– Pats first possession of the quarter and they run the ball pretty well with LeGarrette Blount. They get a roughing the passer penalty to force a first down, but Tom Brady suffers a sack on third down. The Pats try a 55-yarder but Stephen Gostkowski missed wide.
– Texans second possession of the quarter and they get on the board. Keenum to Dennis Johnson got Houston 11 yards and the drive ends with a 20 yard touchdown run by Ben Tate. Houston had a short field to start because of the missed long field goal.
– Pats final possession of the quarter and they go to no huddle. They move the ball but really get nothing. Tom has been under pressure and is having an off-game. They better play with some execution in the second half.
2nd Quarter, 1:46 — Texans 17, Patriots 7: Ben Tate just found a crease that he could have driven a truck through, and 20 yards later the Texans have a 17-7 lead.
The defense is struggling with big plays today, and can’t seem to wrap anyone up in the open field. Devin McCourty was schooled on the Tate touchdown run, and will likely hear about that missed tackle on the sidelines.
Tate entered the game with just one rushing touchdown on the season. He has two on the afternoon.
2nd Quarter, 2:00: The Texans are driving as we approach halftime in this one.
A nine-yard reception by Andre Johnson has the Texans at the New England 20. A few plays earlier, the Pats left Dennis Johnson wide open, and Keenum hit him for an 11-yard screen.
The defense has their work cut out for them over the next couple minutes, as the Texans look to add to their lead before the half.
2nd Quarter, 4:56 — Texans 10, Patriots 0: The Patriots caught a big break from the officials, as Houston’s Brooks Reed gets flagged for roughing the quarterback on a failed third-down play.
Brady hit Gronk in the hands over the middle but couldn’t complete the pass, but as the Pats’ QB was being driven back by JJ Watt, Reed hit him in the head. It’s a tough call to swallow for the Texans, as it gave the Patriots new life.
It didn’t matter in the end though, as Stephen Gostkowski missed a 55-yarder wide right a few plays later, and the Texans hold on to their 10-7 lead.
2nd Quarter, 11:05 : The Patriots defense got some pressure on Keenum this last time out and it paid off big time.
Keenum was sacked by Isaac Sopoaga for an eight-yard loss after Houston picked up a first down on another breakdown by the Patriots secondary.
Two plays later Keenum was pressure again, this time by Andre Carter, and his errant throw was picked off by rookie Logan Ryan. It was Ryan’s third pick of the season.
The Patriots take over now at their own 20-yard line. Time to see if they can turn this interception into points, much like the Texans did in the first quarter.
End 1st Quarter — Texans 10, Patriots 7: After some poor play in the first quarter, the Patriots trail the Texans 10-7.
Tom Brady was 5-for-9 for 65 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Rob Gronkowski did most of the offensive damage for New England, hauling in two catches for 29 yards an the Patriots’ lone touchdown.
Word from the Patriots’ sideline is that Thompkins is “questionable” to return, and the receiver is now making his way to the New England locker room.
Here are some highs and lows from WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid:
– Texans get the ball first and after a good return, the Patriots force them to punt. Nothing spectacular here by the Pats defense. Dont’a Hightower was back in the starting lineup. Steve Gregory is active but he’s not on the field yet.
– Pats first possession of the quarter and they go 3 and out. Tom Brady with an over throw on third down. Brandon Bolden gets the start in the backfield and Julian Edelman gets the start over Danny Amendola.
-Texans second possession of the quarter and Houston gets on the board. Case Keenum to Andre Johnson, twice on this drive for first downs. Then Ben Tate ran it in from the 8. Pats defense is having trouble locating Johnson. He has 2 catches for 42 yards.
– Pats second possession of the quarter and they turn the ball over. They get a good first down on a pass from Tom Brady to Julian Edelman for 17 yards. Then on a short 3rd down play, Tom under throws Rob Gronkowski and the ball is intercepted by Johnathan Joseph. The Texans turn that into 3 points. A 43 yard field goal.
– Pats third possession of the quarter and they get on the board. The get a good keci return from Josh Boyce. Then Tom Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins for 16 yards. A ten yard run by Shane Vereen and then Tom to Gronk for a 23 yard touchdown. The catch by Gronk on this play was very good.
1st Quarter, 1:33 — Texans 10, Patriots 7: The Patriots are on the board thanks to a beautiful shoe-string catch by Rob Gronkowski for a 23-yard touchdown.
Brady’s throw was a little low, as some of his passes have been today, but Gronkowski reached down to make the unbelievable catch. It’s one of his best catches in a Patriots’ uniform.
It’s Gronkowski’s fourth touchdown of the season.
In all, the drive took just 2:45, with the Patriots covering 55 yards on six plays.
1st Quarter, 1:42: Kenbrell Thompkins made a nice grab for 15 yards on a first-and-10 throw from Brady, but had to leave a few plays later with what looks likes a groin injury.
With Aaron Dobson inactive, this could leave the Patriots receivers
1st Quarter, 3:58: Hello Josh Boyce!
The rookie took Houston’s kickoff 41-yards to the New England 45, giving the Patriots some great field position for this next drive.
1st Quarter, 4:10 — Texans 10, Patriots 0: The Texans get a field goal out of Brady’s pick, as Randy Bullock puts a 43-yarder through the uprights.
This is the third straight game the Patriots have found themselves in an early hole, a trend they should probably try to get themselves out of in the coming weeks.
1st Quarter, 5:42: The Patriots were making their way down the field, but Tom Brady was picked off by Jonathan Joseph as he went looking for Rob Gronkowski over the middle of the field. Joseph made a great play to undercut the underthrow from Brady, and set the Texans up at the New England 31.
Scott Zolak called it one of the worst throws we’ve seen from Brady this season, as he was trying to force it to Gronk.
Julian Edelman made a great catch for 17 yards on a third-and-10, going all out to make a reaching grab. LeGarrette Blount also had a nice seven-yard run right before Brady’s pick, picking up an extra couple yards on a nice second effort. You could also tell he has placed some extra emphasis on holding onto the football after last week’s fumble against the Broncos.
1st Quarter, 8:44 — Texans 7, Patriots 0: The Patriots defense was caught napping on the Texans’ second possession, and Houston has seven points because of it.
With the Patriots in zone, Keenum hit a wide open Andre Johnson in the middle of the field for 29 yards to set them up at the New England 21. A 13-yard connection by those two on the next play set the Texans up at the Patriots 8-yard line, and Ben Tate punched it in a few plays later to give Houston a 7-0 lead.
The Patriots’ defense and special teams have not looked great so far in this one, and the Patriots have an early hole to dig themselves out of.
1st Quarter, 10:48: Nothing doing for the Patriots on their first drive of the game, as they go three-and-out.
Brady hit Edelman for three yards on a first down pass, but after Brandon Bolden could only pick up a yard on second down, Brady overthrew Kenbrell Thompkins on third-and-five.
There was pressure from all directions on Brady, but the quarterback managed to remain standing despite all of Houston’s pass-rushers making a push for him.
The Texans will take over on the own 48 after a 47-yard punt by Ryan Allen.
st Quarter, 12:15: After giving up a 50-yards kickoff return to start things, the Patriots defense was able to get off the field on Houston’s first possession.
The Texans picked up a first down with a pair of Ben Tate runs up the middle, but running back Dennis Johnson tripped at the line (there’s that Reliant Field coming into play) on first down, and quarterback Case Keenum couldn’t connect with him on what should have been an easy screen for a first down.
The Patriots benefit from the fact they’re playing the 2-9 Texans with an undrafted quarterback, but they got off the field on third down, which is always a good sign.
The Patriots will take over on their own seven-yard line after Julian Edelman calls for a fair catch on the Texans punt. Shane Vereen will get the start for the Patriots at running back.
1:00 p.m. — Pregame: The Patriots lost the coin toss, and the Texans elected to receive to start the game.
12:45 p.m. — Pregame: A lot is being made about the field at Reliant Stadium, which Bill Belichick once called “one of the worst fields I’ve seen.”
It’s a natural grass field, and is pieced together like a puzzle in numerous areas. The field is in rough shape as we get towards the end of the season, and many media members noted that some Patriots players made a point to get a feel for the field when they first arrived on Sunday.
This is the same field that Wes Welker tore his ACL in 2009, prompting that quote from Bill Belichick. It’s believe Welker got caught in one the seams connecting the field together, so we’ll have to see if any Patriots have issues with the playing surface throughout today’s game.
One final note on Reliant: the roof is open for just the second time this season. While it’s cloudy, there are no showers in the forecast.
12:25 p.m. — Pregame: After an emotional comeback win over the Denver Broncos last Sunday, it’s easy to see the Patriots’ tilt against the Houston Texans on Sunday as your textbook “trap game.”
Luckily, that shouldn’t be the case when the two teams kick off at Reliant Stadium.
The Texans are 2-9 on the season, losers of nine straight. They’re coming off a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who “improved” to 2-9 with the win.
A little less than a year ago, the Texans were 11-1 and one of the best teams in football before paying the Patriots a visit. They flew back to Texas with an embarrassing 42-12 loss, and never fully recovered. The Patriots ended their season for good in the AFC Divisional round, but there was hope that Houston would be back in the mix this season.
Instead, 2013 has been an absolute mess for the Texans as they’ve gone from first to worst. Running back Arian Foster was ineffective until he was lost for the season in Week 9, Matt Schaub was benched for an undrafted rookie QB after months of throwing pick-sixes, and star receiver Andre Johnson recently summed it all up for Houston with two simple words: “We suck.”
But the Patriots won’t look passed the two-win Texans. Houston is still a formidable foe on defense, as New England spent the last week telling us over and over again, and lost to the Seahawks and Chiefs (who are a combined 19-3) by a total of four points. The Patriots are 45-6 in the season’s final month over the last 10 years for a reason, and a big part of that is taking each opponent one week at a time and not looking too far ahead.
One of the key matchups today will be Aqib Talib against Johnson, who still has 74 catches for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns despite the inconsistent quarterback play in Houston. Talib is still nursing a hip injury, and won’t have corner Alfonzo Dennard on the other side of the field (Dennard was downgraded to “out” on Saturday due to a knee injury).
One guy you won’t have to keep an eye on is running back Stevan Ridley, who is inactive for today’s game. Ridley lost a fumble for the third straight game last week against the Broncos, and didn’t make it off the bench after his most recent giveaway. Now he won’t see the field at all in Houston, making you wonder what the future holds for the third-year back.
Patriots Blog: End Of The Ridley Era In New England?
Stick with us throughout the game this afternoon for all the updates as the Patriots look to clinch a winning season for the 13th straight year — the longest active streak.
MORE PATRIOTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON
- NFLPA President: NFL ‘Cannot Be Trusted To Do The Right Thing’ To Protect Players
- McCann: ‘Likelihood Is That Tom Brady Won’t Be Playing In Week 1’
- Report: NFL Improperly Tried To Influence Government Concussion Research, Forcing Public To Pay
- Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan Ranked Among 50 ‘Most Fit’ Athletes