Houston We Have A Problem

Donte' Stallworth #19 of the New England Patriots dives across the goal line to score a touchdown in the third quarter against the Houston Texans during the game at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

In the history of Monday Night Football never had two teams this good matched up this late in the season.  The problem was one team clicked in a well rounded team effort between the offense and the defense while the other team struggled mightily.

We’ve seen this late season act in Foxboro many times but in the past it was the New York Jets or the Indianpolis Colts or the Denver Broncos on the other end of a beat down.  This time it was the Houston Texans, who came in at 11-1, who got a dose of Belichick football in a 42-14 loss to the New England Patriots.

The Texans were looking at this as the biggest game in the history of their franchise, despite having played a pair of playoff games last year.  Maybe the hype caught up to them.  For the Patriots, under Belichick, this is old hat this team lives for games like this.

Offensively New England struck early and often with Tom Brady throwing three TD passes in their first three possessions two to TE Aaron Hernandez and one to WR Brandon Lloyd.  Then Brady and the offense sputtered a bit but in the third quarter Brady found WR Donte Stallworth on a 63-yard bomb that he one handed and deked and juked Texans defenders into the end zone.

After an Arian Foster TD got Houston on the board, the Patriots came back to score again early in the fourth quarter when RB Danny Woodhead after hauling in a screen was caught from behind by Texans DE J.J. Watt who punched the ball loose.  But it was hardly the turnover that Houston was looking for as the ball bounded into the end zone into the awaiting hands of Lloyd who was ahead of the play blocking.

RB Stevan Ridley then made the blow out official as he scampered for a 14-yard TD as the Patriots increased their lead in the 4th quarter to 42-7.  Houston got a garbage time TD from back up QB T.J. Yates on a one yard sneak for the final score and to cover the spread.

The story thought for the Patriots was the strong play of the defense.  The front line was stout doing a good job on the run game, the linebackers helped with pass coverage and pass rush and the secondary was absolutely wonderful with several batted passes, an interception and some good tackling after the catch.

DT Vince Wilfork was a monster in the middle, LB Jerod Mayo kept blitzing Schaub and putting hits on him and busting up plays in the backfield while CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Steve Gregory and McCourty all had big plays in the secondary to break up passes.

The defense held Foster to a mere 46 yards rushing on 15 carries he also had 39 yards receiving and WR Andre Johnson was held to under 100 yards as he had 8 grabs for 95 yards.

When the offense lulled the defense picked the team up.

Once again it’s December and the Patriots are playing football exactly as Bill Belichick has drawn it up.

At least the Texans will look good in those letterman jackets on the flight home.

Texans at Patriots Gamebook includes the box score, all the stats, play by play, drive charts and more.

Texans at Patriots Game Recap.

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Turning Point of the Game

Patriots S Devin McCourty picked Matt Schaub at the goaline on the Texans second drive.  It lead to a Patriots TD and 14-0 lead.

Offensive Players of the Game

Patriost WR Brandon Lloyd (7 catches for 89 yards and 2 TDs – 1 on a fumble recovery) and TE Aaron Hernandez (8 catches for 58 yards and 2 TDs) combined for 4 TDs (3 receiving, 1 fumble recovery), 15 catches and 147 yards to lead the Patriots offense.

Defensive Player of the Game

Patriots DT Vince Wilfork had 4 tackles (3 solo), 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 tackle for loss and 1 pass defensed.

Game Notes

Starters for the Patriots were:

On Offense:

LT Solder

LG Mankins

C Wendell

RG Connolly

RT Vollmer

TE Hernandez

TE Hoomanawanui

WR Welker

WR Lloyd

QB Brady

RB Ridley

On Defense:

DE Scott

DT Wilfork

DT Deaderick

DE Ninkovich

LB Mayo

LB Spikes

LB Hightower

CB Talib

CB Dennard

S Gregory

S McCourty

Inactives for the Game:

Patriots

1. TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip)

2. S Derrick Martin

3. RB James Develin

4. DE Ron Brace (back)

5. OL Markus Zusevics

6. DE Jake Bequette

7. G Nick McDonald (shoulder)

Texans

1. CB Alan Ball (foot)

2. LB Brooks Reed (groin)

3. G Antonio Caldwell (hamstring)

4. G Cody White

5. T Derek Newton (knee)

6. TE Garrett Graham (concussion)

7. NT Terrell McClain

The spread (Patriots MINUS 3) WAS covered.  The over/under (51.5) WAS/NOT COVERED.  I TOOK the points (Texans) and took the OVER.  I am now 3-10 vs. the spread and 9 of 13 calling the under/over.

New England is 22-22 all-time on Monday Night Football.

The Patriots are 11-8 at home on MNF.

This was the second meeting between the teams at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots lead the overall series 3-1.  They are 2-0 vs. Houston at home.

Since 1999 the Patriots have the best record in the NFL at 157-64.

New England now has a 7-game winning streak after starting the season 3-3.

Since 2001 the Patriots are 72-16 in games played on Thanksgiving or later.

Since 2001 New England is 43-5 in December games.

The Patriots are now a combined 21-0 in the second half of the season since 2010. 

Their last loss in the second half was in 2009 season finale at Houston.

The Patriots have not lost a December home game since December 22, 2002 to the New York Jets, 30-17.

The Patriots are 23-1 in December home games since 2002.

The Patriots have won 13 consecutive December games dating back to 2009.  They are the fourth team to have won at least 12 consecutive December games.  San Diego won 18 (2006-09); Dallas 13 (1968-72) and New England 12 (2006-08).

Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, the Patriots are 72-14 at home in the regular season.

New England is 81-47-1 against the teams that make up the AFC South. 

Bill Belichick is now 202-107 including playoffs in his career.

Belichick’s 202 wins are good for 7th all-time.

Belichick coached teams are 3-1 vs. Houston.

Belichick is 16-8 on Monday Night Football, 15-5 as the Patriots head coach.

Tom Brady is 3-1 vs. the Texans. Overall including playoffs he is 150-44.

Brady is 13-4 all-time on Monday Night Football.  He has won his last 5 appearances and 10 out of the last 11. 

Brady has 329 TD passes in his career he is now 5th all-time.  Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton is 4th with 342.

Brady has thrown at least 1 TD pass in 45 consecutive games.

The Patriots are 89-16 when Brady throws at least 2 TD passes in a game.

Brady has 14 games with 4 TDs and 0 INTs in his career it is the most in NFL history.

WR Wes Welker now has catches in 114 consecutive games including playoffs, 97 as a Patriot.  The last time Welker did not have a catch in a game was 12/24/05 as a Dolphin.

His first quarter punt return for 31-yards was his longest since 2009.

TE Aaron Hernandez had his first 2 TD game since his rookie year in 2010.  He know has 4 TD’s on the year.

WR Brandon Lloyd caught a 39-yard pass for his 4th TD of the season.  He added a fumble recovery for his 5th TD later in the game.

Veteran WR Donte Stallworth who was just re-signed this week caught his first TD pass of the season a 63-yard bomb from Brady in the 3rd quarter that he one handed.

That was the 2nd longest pass play of the season only to the 83-yard pass to Shane Vereen against the Jets in Week 11.

RB Stevan Ridley had his 10th rushing TD of the season.

DE Rob Ninkovich had his team leading 7th sack in 1st quarter.

DT Vince Wilfork had a forced fumble (2nd) on a strip sack in the first quarter and a pass defensed (6th) in the second quarter.  He also had a sack (2nd).

DE Chandler Jones returned to action and had his 3rd pass defensed of the season in the second quarter.

CB Kyle Arrington had his 9th pass defensed on the season in the second quarter on a 4th down attempt by Houston.  He added his 10th pass defensed on a 3rd and 3 late in the 3rd quarter.  He is 2nd on the team in passes defensed.

Arrington also led the team in tackles on special teams with two.

CB Aqib Talib had a pass defensed, his second as a Patriot late in the 2nd quarter.  Talib was hurt on the play (hip) and missed the rest of the game.

S Devin McCourty had his 4th INT of the year at the goal line in the first quarter.  He is now tied for the team lead with rookie S Tavon Wilson.  He also had a pass defensed his team leading 12th.

Rookie CB Alfonzo Dennard had a big defensed pass (7th) on Andre Johnson in 3rd quarter.

LB Jerod Mayo (4, 5), LB Donta Hightower (6, 7) and DE Justin Francis (3, 4)each had 2 QB Hits while Ninkovich (10) and DE Trevor Scott (3) had 1 each.

Hightower had 2 tackles for loss while DY Brandon Deaderick, Wilfork and Jones, Mayo and McCourty had 1 each.

Roster moves this week:

  • RB Brandon Bolden rejoined the 53-man roster after serving a four game NFL suspension for violating the drug policy.
  • WR Julian Edelman broke his foot against Miami and has been placed on the season ending IR.
  • Signed WR Donte Stallworth.
  • Waived G Mitch Petrus.
  • Signed OL Tommie Draheim and OL Colin Miller to the practice squad.

The Patriots sacked Houston QB Matt Schaub 2 times, while Brady was sacked 1 time.

New England is PLUS 24 in turnover differential. The offense has given up 5 INT and 5 fumbles, while the defense has 15 INTs and 19 fumble recoveries. 

The Patriots were 3 for 3 (100%) in the red zone.  They had 3 TDs.

New England was 6 for 12 (50%) on third down conversions and 0 for 0 on 4th down attempts.

The Texans are 12-11 all-time against the AFC East.

Houston is 2-5 on Monday Night Football.

Texans are 20-26 all-time in December.

They had a franchise record 6-game road win streak snapped and 6-game winning streak overall snapped as well.

This was the final game of three consecutive road games for the Texans, they had won the previous two.

The Texans have allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL this season, 16 (tied with New York Giants).

Houston was the last undefeated road team in the NFL.

The Texans were shut out in the first half for the first time this season.

Houston head coach Gary Kubiak, is in his 7th season, he is 58-51 and 1-1 in the post season for an overall record of 59-52.

Kubiak is 1-2 vs. New England.

He is 2-4 in Monday Night Football games.

Texans QB Matt Schaub is 43-36 in his career.

He is 1-2 vs. New England in his career, 1-1 with Houston and 0-1 with Atlanta.

RB Arian Foster scored his 16th TD of the season, 14th rushing in the 3rd quarter.  He leads the NFL in TD’s.

Houston was 4 for 14 (29%) on 3rd down conversions and 0 for 2 (0%) on 4th down attempts.

The Texans were 2 for 2 (100%) in the red zone.  They had 2 TDs.

Houston is PLUS 14 in turnover differential, tied for 2nd in the NFL. The offense has given up 11 INT and 2 fumbles, while the defense has 15 INT and 12 fumble recoveries.

Terry McAulay was the game referee.  The temp at kickoff was 59, rainy and warm.

Attendance – 68,756 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro MA. 

Post Game Interviews

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Patriots QB Tom Brady post game press conference via patriots.com.

This Week in the AFC East

Jets beat the Jaguars, 17-10

Rams edged the Bills, 15-12

49ers downed the Dolphins, 27-13

AFC East Standings

Patriots                 10-3/5-0

Jets                        6-7/2-3

Dolphins                  5-8/1-3

Bills                        5-8/1-3

Next Week

The Patriots host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro MA.  Kick off is at 8:20 p.m. on NBC.

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMichaelsII

photo credit: getty images

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