BOSTON (CBS) – The Patriots picked up a big road win in Houston on Sunday, improving to 9-3 on the season.

It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. Here are your gold stars and penalty flags from the Week 13 victory:

Gold Stars

Stephen Gostkowski gets a gold star. Sure he missed a 56-yarder, but he followed up by kicking a pair of 53-yarders when it mattered most. He’s been as reliable as they come at that position. Many thought the Pats would have trouble replacing Adam Vinatieri but they haven’t — Gostkowski has been just as good. Sunday was a statement game to Bill Belichick’s trust in his leg.

Rob Gronkowski gets a gold star for his six catch, 127 yard performance. He was the best player on the field, and when Gronk got going the Texans had zero answers for him. He dragged defenders, made flexible receptions and made a difference in the running game. Gronk is back, and he’s giving hits instead of taking them. When he’s good, the Pats are hard to beat.

Julian Edelman gets a gold star. With his nine catches for 110 yards in Houston, Edelman has emerged as one of the most versatile players in the Patriots offense. Punts, he’s got it. Third down plays, he’s got it. Tom Brady called him Edelman “The Minitron” and he’s on the button with that. Edelman transforms himself into whatever the Pats need him to do.

Rookie corner Logan Ryan gets a gold star. Don’t look now but Ryan has quietly stepped in at corner and helped solidify a spot. He makes plays on the ball and is strong enough in press coverage.

Fullback James Develin gets a gold star. His effort on the goal line alone gets him a prize. Just a young man out of Brown making the most of an opportunity.

Penalty Flags

Stevan Ridley gets a penalty flag. The Pats had to make a decision on their best back and they decided to make him a healthy scratch. Ridley has to figure out his fumbling issues. You can call this demotion whatever you want but realize this, Bill Belichick thought there were 46 other players that could help the team win on Sunday. He’s lost trust in Ridley.

Dont’a Hightower gets a penalty flag. Somebody, anybody, tell me what’s going on with Hightower. He can’t cover and he’s having trouble tackling. He’s not sure where to line up. In a second year where people saw a ton of potential in the first round pick, he has regressed horribly.

Kyle Arrington gets a penalty flag. Whatever defensive scheme the Pats put out there, they have to make sure Arrington is in the slot and not on the island. He just looks lost at times out there at corner by himself, and he did again against the Texans.

Texans defensive end Antonio Smith gets a penalty flag, and give half a flag to some of the Houston reporters on this. Not only did what he said make zero sense, but no one questioned him. I don’t know, maybe someone should have replied “well you know you’ve lost your five previous games after having halftime leads. Did those other teams cheat also, or was it miraculous that Belichick just waited until the Pats were down to start the so-called cheating?”

There is a reason why the Texans have lost 10 straight; they’re not a smart team. Smith’s comments are indication number one.

Follow Levan Reid on Twitter @LevanReid.

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