For the finale of NFL divisional playoff play, we saw the Houston Texans travel to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro to play the New England Patriots. The Texans who had been the favorites to win the AFC the entire dropped three of their last four games before the end of the regular season, one of which to New England as they would soon lose a first round bye and play on wildcard weekend.
Coming fresh off their tough win against the Cincinnati Bengals at home, the Texans would go into Foxboro with all eyes on them immediately scoring the first points of the game lead by Danieal Manning starting the game with a 94-yard kick-off return to the Patriots 12. With a quick three-and-out, the Texans would settle for a FG to take a 3-0 Lead and their only one of the game.
Toward the end of the first, the Patriots would finally settle into the game after a three-and-out of their own and being shut down the Texans on their second possession. With 90 seconds left, Shane Vereen would get New England their first score on a no-huddle 1-yard run capping off a 65-yard 3-minute possession.
After forcing Houston off the field at the top of the second quarter, Stephen Gostkowski would convert on a 37-yard FG to give New England a full possession lead for some comfort room. On the next ensuing Patriots possession, Tom Brady would connect with Shane Vereen for his first touchdown pass of the game to make the score 17-3. This topped off a nearly 3-minute 80-yard drive for another New England quick score.
The Texans would finally find their first touchdown of the game as Arian Foster would rush for a total of 47-yards to make the score 17-10. After forcing a three-and-out before the half concluded, the Texans would find themselves once again scoring with .24 seconds left with Shayne Graham scoring a 55-yard FG.
With the score 17-13, Houston was initially in a good position to make the game competitive until Peyton Manning took over. On the opening possession of the 2nd half for New England, Tom Brady would link up with Aaron Hernandez for a 40-yard pass to move to Houston 12 as Stevan Ridley would rush for 8 to give Patriots a 24-13 lead.
After two quick 3 and outs from both teams, Matt Schaub would throw an interception intended for James Casey that would get picked off by Rob Ninkovich. New England wasn’t set in good field position but the discouraged Texans would soon let the game slip away as Tom Brady would throw his 40th career postseason touchdown pass (3rd in NFL history with 40+) to Brandon Lloyd make the score virtually a blowout at 31-13.
On the next ensuing Texans possession, they would be forced to go for a 4th and 1 attempt but would be unsuccessful as New England would take over with a Tom Brady deep pass to Shane Vereen getting his 5th career postseason 300+ yard game.
The Texans would score twice more but it wasn’t enough to win the game in the 4th quarter as the Patriots would finish the game off with a 38-yard FG from Stephen Gostkowski.
The Patriots now get a week to prepare at home for their next Sunday AFC championship rematch against the Baltimore Ravens as they will be without their star tight end Rob Gronkowski who will have to miss the remainder of the postseason re-injuring his broken arm for the second this year earlier tonight against the Texans.--