Patriots vs. Texans 2013: The game that was supposed to mean more

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

A December matchup between the Patriots and Texans was supposed to decide playoff seeding in the AFC, but Houston's collapse turned it into a battle for pride.

The New England Patriots survived a scare, and it required some Tom Brady heroics to bring his team back in the second half. It was an all-too-common affair of believing he was down and out, only to see the quarterback put the team on his back yet again.

Brady's praises were sung loud and proud over at Pats Pulpit, who didn't blame the success on Houston's defensive failings, instead focusing on just how good No.12 was on Sunday.

The offensive turnaround started with quarterback Tom Brady. Brady was simply electric in the second half. Against the best pass defense in football, Brady looked like he was going against a scout defense. And that's really not fair, because Texans defenders weren't exactly out of position - Brady was just not missing his throws. Brady spread the football around, bought himself time in the pocket when necessary, and showed incredible accuracy. Huge games from Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.

This has been a trying year for the Patriots quarterback. His team is winning, which cures a lot of ills -- but a young offense without a lot of reliability has often left him visibily frustrated. It's a testament to how good he and head coach Bill Belichick are that this team is winning as much as it is in spite of the problems.

The mood is surprisingly upbeat over at Battle Red Blog. Perhaps it's an acceptance this season is a disaster, but Texans fans are happy they're seeing compeditive football while still retaining a top draft spot.

Say what you will about the 2013 Houston Texans, but they are tanking in a way that still makes it fun to watch every game. I even thought for a moment there in the fourth quarter that they may beat the New England Patriots in football. Gary Kubiak using a timeout to discuss how to attack 4th and 13 was a stroke of pure genius, as it guaranteed that the inevitable blitz-sack-turnover on downs would effectively end the game. All we needed was a field goal to force overtime, but allowing Fat Randy Bullock to be put in a position to miss the game tying shot would have been too predictable.

Houston is in a rare situation where there's plenty of defensive and offensive talent, but there have just been breakdowns in coaching and at the quarterback position. It's unclear if the front office will make a change at head coach, but positioned to select a top quarterback in April's draft could make this a team poised for a rebound in 2014.

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