Last night, on the national stage of Monday Night Football, what was supposed to be a showdown of the two best teams in the AFC ended up being a blowout. The Houston Texans and the New England Patriots are the two highest scoring teams in the NFL, but you wouldn’t know that the Texans were by the final score of 42-14 Patriots.
Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns and 296 yards as New England manhandled the team with the league’s best record. The Patriots (10-3), who already own the AFC East title, won their seventh straight game and moved one game behind the Texans (11-2) for the conference’s top seed.
Right from the start, you could tell which way this game was going. It took take New England only one possession to start its scoring barrage as the Patriots surpassed their average of 35.8 points per game. They score 28 points before the Texans scored any.
Wes Welker’s 31-yard punt return and 25-yard reception – the 107th straight game he’s had a catch – led to Aaron Hernandez’s 7-yard score. That gave Brady 45 consecutive games with a TD pass, third longest in NFL history.. Two more games with a TD pass and he’ll be tied with Johnny Unitas for second.. Then seven more games and he’ll be tied with Drew Brees for first.. and with Brees’ streak no longer active, Brady has the chance to be the all-time leader.
Houston, which had won six straight games, threatened on its next series, only to have Matt Schaub force a ball into double coverage in the Patriots’ end zone. Devin McCourty came up with a huge interception and returned it 19 yards, setting up more pinpoint throws by Brady, who finished 21 of 35.
He couldn’t miss if he tried, his receivers were so uncovered: Brandon Lloyd for 14 yards, Danny Woodhead for 18, Hernandez for 13, then Lloyd for the 37-yard TD to make it 14-0. Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips could only shake his head in disgust at his players’ inability to challenge the Patriots.
It wasn’t over yet.. At the end of a 70-yard drive helped by a 26-yard interference call on Danieal Manning, no Texans were lined up to Brady’s left in front of Hernandez. A quick snap before they were ready, a quicker pass and the tight end waltzed into the end zone.
New England was headed for its 20th successive home win in December (a new all-time NFL record), and its 21st straight victory in the second half of the schedule.
By then the Patriots had their fourth TD, a gorgeous 63-yard throw to Donte’ Stallworth, who was re-signed last week to replace injured Julian Edelman. It gave Brady his 18th game with at least four TD passes, moving ahead of Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas for fourth all time.
Brady nearly had a fifth as Woodhead broke free on a screen pass early in the fourth period. Texans standout defensive end J.J. Watt, who was pretty much invisible otherwise, forced a fumble, but the ball soared 11 yards into the end zone, where Lloyd fell on it for a 35-7 lead.
Stevan Ridley made it 42-7 with a 14-yard run. Everyone on the Patriots stepped up big.. and not just the offense. It was great to see Tom Brady totally in the zone, but even better to see the guys around perform well. Wes Welker was solid with a sick diving catch early in the game. Danny Woodhead also made some nice plays. Stevan Ridley kept up his great running. Donte’ Stallworth had that huge TD catch. Brandon Lloyd had some key catches and first downs, as well as that bomb of a reception for a touchdown early in the game. It was really great to see Brady and Lloyd finally connecting like they were meant to. It was also amazing to see Stallworth make such a big play look easy after having been cut from the team at the end of the preseason. Like I said though, it was just the offense that was big.. the defense played possibly their best game this year. Devin McCourty had that huge interception after a long Texans drive that made it to the red zone. Vince Wilfork continued his impressive year keeping the pressure on Matt Schaub. The defense as a whole played really well. They even kept star running back Arian Foster, who has been averaging almost 100 yards per game, to only 46 yards on 15 runs!
The Texans have allowed 42 points in both of their losses, the other coming against Green Bay on October 14. Although the Texans have clinched at least a wild-card berth, they haven’t had a truly convincing win since October. They are not as much of a threat as everyone has been saying, at least not to the Patriots, and this game proved it.
Before this game, I thought, like most, that Houston and Denver were the only real threats to the Patriots in the AFC.. although I thought Houston was more of a threat. After this game, I feel that the Patriots pretty much own the AFC.. and with a crushing win over “the best team in the NFL,” I predict that the Patriots will be in the Super Bowl.
There were too many great photos from this game to fit them into the article, and too many to put all here, but here are some of the best ones:
Thanks for reading,