While the New England Patriots stumble into Houston on a rare two-game losing streak, good news is on the way.
The Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals lost at home on Sunday to give the Patriots a brief advantage in the race for AFC home-field advantage and a first-round bye.
Oh, and Gronk is back.
Live blog time!
8:31 – As per usual, the Patriots perform some sort of voodoo to receive the second half kickoff. Texans O out first…
8:33 – Well, that was quick. The Texans go three and out. The drive closes with one of Belichick’s stable of pass rushers, Dominique Easley, sacks Brian Hoyer to force a punt.
8:36 – Brady and the Pats go three and out after running in the vicinity of ex-Pat Vince Wilfork. Brady continues his futility of deep throws on an incomplete toss to Bradon LaFell. In his defense, Texans cornerback Jonathan Joseph played some top rank defense on the pass.
8:40 – Dumb teams doing dumb things. The Texans trot out the Wildcat on a 3rd and short. Patriots have none of that. Punt.
8:44 – Brady hits a crazy throw across the field to Gronk on roughly a 40-yard gain to setup a goal to go.
8:46 – J.J. Watt is a tool.
8:49 – After a negated TD toss to Brandon LaFell, Brady connects with Keshawn Martin, a former Texan, on a short touchdown pass.
PATRIOTS 7, TEXANS 0
8:53 – There are too many conferences in this game about calls already.
8:55 – Hoyer hits a long one to Nate Washington in Pats territory after a double move on Malcolm Butler.
8:56 – This game would be far more compelling if Houston had Arian Foster. Just a whole lot of passing from Houston.
8:57 – Some dude named Leonard Johnson breaks up a pass and does some weird dance. Patriots literally bringing in random dudes to play corner. Nick Novak cuts the deficit with a field goal.
PATRIOTS 7, TEXANS 3
8:58 – Never forget… The Varsity Jacket game vs. New England from 2012.
9:05 – Some solid runs by LeGarrette Blount lead the Patriots into Houston real estate as the first quarter comes to a close.
9:07 – Now, a word from our sponsors…
9:09 – For the moment, Trader Bill has found another key contributor in Martin.
9:11 – Patriots try not to get too fancy in Texans territory. After Watt swats away a pass, New England sets up a field goal try for Stephen Gostkowski and he nails it.
PATRIOTS 10, TEXANS 3
9:15 – A long Jonathan Grimes run into Patriots territory puts Houston in prime position to cut the Patriot lead.
9:20 – Houston tries to beat Butler again but this time in the end zone with little success. Field goal time.
PATRIOTS 10, TEXANS 6
9:21 – Al Michaels throws a shout out to the old Astrodome. Loved that place for anything except baseball.
9:29 – As if the Patriots don’t have enough injury issues at the moment, Blount leaves the game with a leg injury. It doesn’t appear to be serious but you know, injuries.
9:35 – Houston gets backed up and Hoyer misses on a third down throw. Now, the Patriots have a short field and an opportunity to add to their lead.
9:42 – Patriots with ball in Houston territory…two minutes to go in half.
9:47 – Brady to Gronk for six. New England a two-score lead with the ball heading their way to start the second half.
PATRIOTS 17, TEXANS 6
HALFTIME: A pretty by-the-book first half for the Pats, who controlled the action most of the way. Now, Houston has to answer. PAGING DEANDRE HOPKINS. PAGING DR. DEANDRE HOPKINS.
10:04 – SECOND HALF PARTY TIME!
10:10 – Patriots moving in on another scoring opportunity….
10:16 – New England catches a tough break as Brady completes a leaping reception to James White. After a challenge, it’s overturned. Gostkowski time yet again. This time from 49.
PATRIOTS 20, TEXANS 6
10:21 – LIFE OF BRIAN! Texans tight end Brian Griffin drops a big throw from Hoyer on 2nd and 10. Leads to a punt.
10:23 – Remember that reliability thing about Martin? Yeah, well he drops a punt to setup Houston in the red zone. Geez. New England’s once ridiculously steady special teams have fallen on hard times.
10:25 – A look at Belichick’s reaction after the muffed punt:
10:27 – The Year of Living Dangerously with Malcolm Butler continues as he breaks up a sure touchdown catch to Nate Washington.
10:28 – Houston goes on fourth and gets stopped on a pass breakup by that Johnson dude again.
10:34 – Texans get the ball back following a New England punt. Now, the injury bug haunts their defense. McCourty, Chung, Freeny all banged up and potentially out of the game for the Patriots.
10:37 – Hoyer “fumbles” and it’s recovered by the Patriots. It’s not actually a fumble but you know, officiating.
10:42 – Jabaal Sheard smokes Hoyer on a third down for a sack and fumble. Houston hops on it for a tidy 23-yard loss. Punt time.
10:47 – Brady gets slaughtered by Jadeveon Clowney on a third down throw. Not to be outdone, Hoyer gets dropped by a pair of Patriots on a third down sack.
END OF 3: PATRIOTS 20, TEXANS 6
10:54 – Another sack of Brady on third down…PUNT.
10:58 – Sheard buries Hoyer, forces a fumble and this time it’s recovered by New England near the Houston 10.
11:03 – A short James White touchdown run gives New England what appears to be an insurmountable lead.
PATRIOTS 27, TEXANS 6
11:07 – Down 21 and the Texans are running the Wildcat on critical third down plays. Dumb. Hoyer gets annihilated on fourth down and appears to be injured.
11:13 – TJ Yates will be heading in. Brady hits a 36-yarder to Gronk on a 2nd and 24 in Texans territory.
11:17 – Just substitute J.J. Watt for “her”…
11:28 – Patriots with the ball nearing midfield. It’s evident that this game was out of Houston’s pay grade. They weren’t ready for this…especially with J.J. Watt banged up.
11:30 – Brady applies a few knees and we’re done for the evening.
FINAL: PATRIOTS 27, TEXANS 6
SUMMARY: I think Brady stiffed Watt in the post-game handshake, which makes total sense. Anyhow, New England ends their two-game slide and handle some important business:
Today was a total win for the Patriots. Denver and Cincinnati lost and now both have considerable issues at quarterback. New England is once again sitting atop the AFC.
This one is for you, J.J. Goodnight everyone.