The AFC East champion New England Patriots scored touchdowns on each of the first three possessions and made a strong statement to the rest of the teams in the AFC Playoff race as they blew out the AFC South-leading Houston Texans 42-14 at Gillette Stadium on Monday night. New England opened the scoring when Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for a seven-yard touchdown to cap off an eight-play drive that began at their own 44-yard line following a 31-yard punt return by Wes Welker. For Brady, it was his 45th consecutive game with a touchdown pass, the third-longest streak in NFL history. In response to the opening sore, the Texans would drive down to the Patriots’ 21-yard line before a Matt Schaub deep down the middle towards Kevin Walter was intercepted in the end zone by defensive back Devin McCourty. Brady would make the Texans pay for the turnover, hitting Brandon Lloyd for 14 yards on a 3rd-and-12 before connecting with Danny Woodhead for 18 yards and Hernandez for 13 yards on consecutive plays to get the Patriots to the Texans’ 37-yard line. Brady would use a brilliant play-action fake to hook up with Lloyd for a 37-yard touchdown to extend the Patriots’ lead to 14-0 with just under three minutes to play in the first quarter. The Patriots went up 21-0 on their next possession early in the second quarter after Brady had a quick screen to Hernandez, who was split wide to the left and the Texans were late in putting a defender over him. Houston’s defense would put the clamps on the Patriots’ offense, forcing a trio of three-and-outs to close out the first half, but the Texans were unable to capitalize, twice turning the ball over on downs on drives that crossed inside the Patriots’ 40-yard line. The two teams would trade punts to start the second half, but Brady would hit the newly re-signed Donte Stallworth for a 63-yard touchdown pass to increase the Patriots’ lead to 28-0 with 10 minutes to play in the third quarter. The Texans would chip into the lead when Arian Foster scored from one-yard out with just over six minutes to play in the third quarter, but the score would be too little, too late as the New England would benefit from fumble luck on their next drive. On a 2nd-and-10 play from the Texans’ 27-yard line, Brady dumped the ball off to Woodhead on a screen pass. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt would punch the ball from Woodhead’s arm, with the ball sailing into the end zone before Lloyd pounced on the loose ball for a touchdown that put the Patriots up 35-7. Later in the fourth quarter, running back Stevan Ridley would add a 14-yard touchdown run and the Texans would add another touchdown of their own when backup quarterback T.J. Yates, who had replaced Schaub midway through the fourth quarter, scored on a one-yard touchdown run.
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