The New England Patriots destroyed the Houston Texans Monday night to stake their claim as the AFC's best.
The Houston Texans and New England Patriots faced off on Monday Night Football in what promised to be a grind-'em-out battle of the AFC's two best teams. But, instead of a battle, there was a drubbing. The Texans laid down and the Patriots rolled behind Tom Brady's four touchdown passes, winning, 42-14.
The Patriots wasted little time displaying their dominance over the Texans on both sides of the ball. After forcing a quick Houston punt, Tom Brady and Co. took the ball and promptly marched 70 yards down to the Houston 4-yard line. On first down, Stevan Ridley took a hand-off, ran up the middle and fumbled, but Aaron Hernandez reached the loose ball first, depriving the Texans' defense of its best chance to stop the New England offense. On the next play, Hernandez was rewarded with a 7-yard touchdown reception to give New England an early lead, 7-0.
After the Texans' next drive quickly stalled, the Patriots again struck quickly. A deep touchdown pass from Brady to Brandon Lloyd capped off a six-play, 82-yard drive and gave New England a 14-0 lead.
Next Texans' series: same story. Houston was forced to punt after only four plays, and the Patriots' offense regained possession and imposed its will yet again. Tom Brady marched his team down the field 70 yards in eight plays, finishing the drive with another touchdown pass to Hernandez to give the Patriots a 21-0 lead.
The game went to halftime firmly in hand for New England, and fans were singing the high praises to their fearless leader.
Whatever adjustments the Houston coaching staff drew up during halftime did not work, as the second half proved to be much of the same story of dominance. Tom Brady connected with Donte Stallworth on the Patriots' second possession for a 63-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead, 28-0.
After an Arian Foster touchdown run, the Patriots answered with two touchdowns of their own, one of which was a Stevan Ridley fumble that Brandon Lloyd recovered in the end zone. The play perfectly summed up the game. It was the Patriots' night, and even on a Texans forced fumble, Brady made sure it ended with a Patriots touchdown.
With each team getting their backups playing time, Houston quarterback T.J. Yates rushed in a 1-yard touchdown to make the score somewhat more respectable, but no one watching the game was fooled.
Tom Brady was a man on fire Monday night. He completed 21 of 35 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. Two of those touchdowns went to tight end Aaron Hernandez, another two (one was a fumble recovery) went to Brandon Lloyd.
On the Texans side, no one impressed. Wide receiver Andre Johnson had the best game with eight receptions for 95 yards, but could not find his way into the end zone. Arian Foster rushed for a touchdown but amassed only 46 rushing yards.
New England cornerback Aqib Talib was feared to have suffered a serious hip injury after leaving in the first half and not immediately returning after halftime. However, he returned to the field in the second half.
But did they cover?
Oh yes. The Patriots entered Monday night as 5.5-point favorites and won by 28. If not for a garbage-time Houston touchdown, the margin would have been even wider.
Indianapolis Colts (9-4) at Houston Texans (11-2)
San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) at New England Patriots (10-3)