Tom Brady picks apart Texans' defense
When you're playing in Foxboro, you can't hurt yourself. The Texans did just that in the first half and went on to lose 42-14.
On the Patriots' opening drive they found themselves in 3rd-and-6. Coming into Monday, New England had the best third-down offense in the NFL and the Texans had the best third-down defense.
Tom Brady's pass to Matthew Slater went incomplete, but Brandon Harris was called for defensive holding, which extended the drive.
Two plays later on 1st-and-goal from the Texans' four-yard line, Stevan Ridley fumbled. Kareem Jackson was unable to fall on the football and the Patriots' Aaron Hernandez fell on the loose ball. The next play, Brady hit Hernandez for a seven-yard touchdown to take the lead.
On the Texans' next drive Matt Schaub was intercepted in the end zone by Devin McCourty. That turnover led to a 37-yard touchdown from Brady to Brandon Lloyd. Just like that, with just 5:30 left in the first quarter it was 14-0 New England.
The Patriots started with the ball in the second quarter and again the Texans hurt themselves on third down. On 3rd-and-10, Brady went deep to Wes Welker. Danieal Manning was called for pass interference -- a questionable call -- on a ball that might have been uncatchable. Then Hernandez struck again. On 1st-and-goal, again from the four, the Texans left Hernandez uncovered on the outside. Brady quick-snapped the ball and like that it was 21-0 at the half.
The Texans defense started to pick things up, stopping the Patriots on their next four drives, three of which were three-and-outs. On the Patriots' next drive Brady connected with Done Stallworth for a 63-yard touchdown and it was 28-0 New England.
The turning point
The Patriots opening drive. Knowing that third down was what needed to be won, Harris was called for defensive holding on 3rd-and-6. Two plays later, Ridley fumbled on the Texans' four-yard line but the Texans were unable to recover the loss ball. On the Next play, Brady connected with Hernandez for the touchdown. The Patriots never looked back.
What it means
The Texans fell to 11-2. The head-to-head advantage from the win by the Patriots wouldn't mean anything if both teams win out because the Texans would still finish one game ahead of New England in the final standings.
Tom Brady. Period. The Brady vs Matt Schaub showdown was all the talk this week. Brady showed why it should have never even been a discussion. He picked apart the Texans from the start of the game and kept at it even when it was already over. Brady threw four touchdowns for the 18th time in his career. Brady's final line was 21-for-35 for 296 yards and a QB rating of 125.4
The right side of the Texans' offensive line did not have its strongest game. Schaub wasn't an accurate passer by any means Monday, but Schaub was repeatably hit from that side on pass plays, while the running game couldn't get anything going that way either. Ben Jones and Ryan Harris really need to have Derek Newton back to try to bring some help. With their play struggling, it was obvious when the Texans needed a play they were going to go left. It was obvious to the Patriots as well.
The Patriots' secondary caused problems for the Texans all night long. The Texans went 4-for-14 on third down and it was because of the way the secondary played against the Texans passing game. Jerod Mayo deserves some props as well. Mayo was in Schaub's face the entire night.
The Texans' defense was shredded from the from four to the secondary, but Harris struggled throughout the entire game. Gary kubiak said earlier in the week that he was worried about Harris and penalties. He was called for defensive holding twice and the first one set the tone for the way the game was going to go.
For the 14th time in his NFL career, Brady threw four touchdowns without throwing an interception. That mark is an NFL record. Brady currently has turned the ball over just four times this season.
Secondly the Texans have to worry about their issue with penalties. Last week the Texans were hit with 11 penalties for 97 yards. The Texans finished with seven penalties for 70 yards.
Did you know?
Tom Brady has played 17 Monday Night Football games and is 13-4. Brady has won his last five Monday Night Football games and has thrown 41 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and 4,715-yards on Monday night.
The Texans will have one less day than usual to prepare for their first home game since Nov. 18. Houston will face off with the Colts fir the first of two meetings in three weeks. The Texans will take on the Colts Sunday, then square off with the Vikings in Week 15 and then go on the road to face the Colts once again in Week 16. Because of the Colts win Sunday no matter what the Texans did Monday night against the Patriots, Houston could not clinch the AFC South this week. The Colts come into Houston winning seven of their last eight games.