Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Once Tom Brady found his groove, the Patriots looked like they were going to run away with things, but a late rally by the Texans has them right in this AFC Divisional Round game at halftime.
The New England Patriots took a while to get going, but eventually they got things on track and looked in complete command of their AFC Divisional game against the Houston Texans. In fact, it appeared as if the game might get out of hand, but 10 points in the last 75 seconds brought the Texans back into the ballgame and has them down just 17-13 at halftime in New England.
Things started beautifully for the Texans. Danieal Manning returned the opening kick off 94 yards to the Patriots' 12 and the Gillette Stadium crowd was stunned. But after a run for little gain, James Casey dropped a touchdown pass and Matt Schaub missed Andre Johnson to force the visitors into a disappointing field goal.
The Patriots didn't really build off the momentum of the stop, though. Tom Brady was off, and even Wes Welker dropped a pass, but eventually the offense found their groove and the Texans looked helpless.
Late in the first quarter, Brady moved the Patriots 65 yards in 3:01 on a drive capped by a Shane Vereen one-yard touchdown run. On their next drive, the Patriots went 80 yards on 11 plays. That drive took just 3:51 and while they couldn't get into the endzone, New England did get a field goal. The next time they had the ball, the Patriots went 80 yards again, but this time they got into the endzone as Brady found Vereen for an eight-yard touchdown pass and New England was up 17-3.
The Texans looked dead and buried, but Manning gave them a spark again. He returned a kickoff 35 yards and got a personal foul call for a horse collar tackle to set up the Houston offense at the New England 47. From there, it was all Arian Foster. He carried the ball on all five plays of he drive, finishing with a one-yard touchdown run to cut the Texans deficit to 17-10 with 1:15 remaining.
Houston wasn't done yet, either. They forced a stop and came right back down the field, setting Shane Graham up for a 55-yard field goal on the last play, which he nailed. It was a perfect kick that sends the Texans into the half down just 17-13 and with some momentum.
If the Texans are going to have a chance, though, they need to stop Brady and his favorite target, Welker. Brady has completed 14 passes for 210 yards already and a touchdown, with 120 of those yards to Welker. As long as those two are clicking the way they are, it's tough to imagine Houston winning no matter what Foster or anyone else on the Texans' offense does.