It didn’t look good at the start, but the Patriots worked out the kinks in Houston Sunday and outlasted the Texans, 34-31, improving to 9-3 on the season.
Tom Brady threw for 371 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, looking like the future Hall-of-Famer that Pats fans have come to know in the second half. The defense, however, left plenty to be desired.
Second half success
The New England offense looked just as good in the second half Sunday against the Texans as it did in last week's epic second half comeback against Denver. Having scored just seven points in the first half, the Pats trailed the Texans 17-7 coming out of halftime. But the Pats put up 27 points in the second half, scoring at least a field goal on every drive except their clock-killing final possession. Through their first seven games of the season, the Patriots were outscored 44-9 in the third quarter. In their last two games alone, they’ve scored 35 third-quarter points. It’s not a shock to see the Patriots offense click as the playoffs near. Bill Belichick and the staff are making the right adjustments with a healthy offense.
Step back for the defense
After another running back torched the Patriots defense this week, the inability to stop the run has to be the biggest concern for the team going forward. Texans running back Ben Tate rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries Sunday. It was the first time the Patriots have allowed three rushing touchdowns from the same player since Ronnie Brown did it with the Dolphins in 2008. But the Pats also gave up some big plays through the air. The worst of them was a 66-yard catch by DeAndre Hopkins over a lost Kyle Arrington in the fourth quarter. That catch came on the Texans’ first play of their drive after the Pats took a 28-24 lead, and the Texans scored a touchdown two plays later to re-take the lead, 31-28.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Rob Gronkowski had another huge game for the Patriots. Gronk led the team in reception yards at 127, and added a beautiful 23-yard touchdown catch to his 2013 resume for the Patriots’ lone points in the first half. Julian Edelman (nine catches, 101 yards) made a number of key catches for the Pats, including an 8-yarder on third-and-8 that set up a LeGarrette Blount touchdown. Stephen Gostkowski didn’t let a missed 55-yard field goal in the second quarter mess with him, nailing a pair of 50-plus yarders in the fourth quarter to tie and then win the game for New England. Running back Stevan Ridley was a healthy inactive for the Patriots.