FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots rolled over Houston 42-14 on Monday night, stamping themselves once again as the team to fear in the AFC – and making the Texans look like pretenders.
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 game in a row and moved one game behind the Texans (11-2) for the conference’s top seed.
A matchup of the top two scoring teams
in the league was a mismatch from the outset.
On the Patriots’ first possession, Wes Welker’s 31-yard punt return and 25-yard reception – his 107th game in a row with 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.
Houston, which had won six in a row, threatened on its next series, only to have Matt Schaub force a ball into double coverage in the Patriots’ end zone. Devin McCourty picked it off and returned it 19 yards, setting up more pinpoint throws by Brady, who finished 21 of 35.
It got worse. 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, a quicker pass and the tight end waltzed into the end zone.
New England took its 20th consecutive home win in December, and its 21st consecutive win in the second half of the schedule.
The Texans got on the scoreboard in the third quarter with an 88-yard drive capped by Arian Foster’s 1-yard run.
By then the Patriots had their fourth touchdown, a 63-yard throw to Donte’ Stallworth.
It gave Brady his 18th game with at least four TD passes, moving ahead of Hall of Famer John 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. The Texans have allowed 42 points in both losses, the other coming against Green Bay on Oct. 14.