Patriots Show Stout Defense in Dominating Win over Texans
It's that the Patriots might've finally found themselves a defense.
The Patriots came out on fire, putting together three straight touchdown drives to start the game to race out to a 21-0 lead. But from there the Pats offense went stale, and it was the Patriots defense that stepped up and held the lead until the Patriots offense got back on track and sealed the game with touchdowns from Donte Stallworth and Brandon Lloyd (via Danny Woodhead's fumble).
The Patriots defense forced seven punts, and twice stopped the Texans on fourth down deep in New England territory. They held the Texans to an elite 4-14 on third down as well in what is the first truly stout defensive performance against an elite team in sometime.
In the end the scoreboard would read Patriots 42, Texans 14.
It would be easy to look at the score and assume the Patriots just blew out the Texans, but the Patriots defensive performance should really be what the rest of the NFL takes heed of. That's what has been missing from being true Super Bowl contenders, and now it looks like the Patriots just might be the favorites for the Lombardi once again.
The Patriots step back into the second seed in the AFC, and are just a half game behind the Texans who cannot afford to slip up against their divisional rival Colts who they'll see twice in the last three weeks.
There's no secret New England is nearly impossible to beat at home, and if the Texans can't hold them off, the road to the Super Bowl might just go through New England for the third straight season.
And this time they might actually have a defense to help Tom Brady.
Texans scrubs pick up another touchdown against the Patriots scrubs and it's 42-14.
Ryan Mallett enters the game for the Patriots. 5:09 remaining. Patriots lead 42-7.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) December 11, 2012
TJ Yates is in the game for the Texans who probably just want to put on their letterman jackets and go home at this point.
Ridley takes it in again and it's about to be 42-7. What a statement game from the Patriots, but the defense holding the lead in the middle part of the game is the story not many people will be talking about tomorrow.
Patriots are riding Shane Vereen right now, who looks as good as he ever has in New England. He's running hard and giving the Pats a viable alternative to Stevan Ridley. The Pats are showing how their running game can close out games.
And another punt for the Texans, and with just under 12 minutes left this one is all but decided. Let the "running up the score" talk begin, because even the Patriots old defense wouldn't give up this lead.
Wow, Danny Woodhead fumbles on a big gainer, the ball goes flying into the end zone and Brandon Lloyd recovers it for a touchdown. You don't see that every day, and at 35-7 this game is effectively over.
Brady scrambles for a first down on third and five to end the third quarter in a play reminiscent of his scramble on Brian Urlacher back in 2006. The Patriots are driving to close out the game right now.
Kyle Arrington comes up big on third down and the Texans go three-and-out as well. It's hard not to be really impressed with the Patriots defense tonight. The Texans have shut down Tom Brady for most of the game after his uber-hot start, but the Patriots defense has maintained the lead. And that's not something they've done very often over the past few years.
Patriots with another three-and-out and it seems like outside of the Stallworth bomb they haven't done anything since the early in the second quarter.
Touchdown Texans and the lead is cut to 28-7 after the extra point.
Texans now putting together a drive. They'll need a touchdown here if they want to hang on in this one. They're on the Patriots 2-yard line. This one ain't over yet!
That was a 63-yarder to Stallworth and it looks like the Patriots are primed to close this one out. The offense was really having problems before that. It looked vaguely reminiscent of how flat the Pats offense looked in the Super Bowls against the Giants. But the deep ball saves them. You can't say that very often about the Pats.
Ridley's fumble problems in December continue...
RB Stevan Ridley has not played over the last 18 snaps. Does not appear to be injury related. Danny Woodhead/Shane Vereen get the snaps.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) December 11, 2012
Donte Stallworth, just signed this week, comes through huge with a long touchdown bomb from Brady to break the offenses slump.
Alfonzo Dennard with a great tackle of Andre Johnson on third down and the Texans have another quick three-and-out. Dennard is really elevating his game tonight.
CB Aqib Talib has just emerged from the locker roo m to join his teammates on the sideline. In uniform.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) December 11, 2012
Patriots offense goes six-and-out. After three TDs to start the game they've now punted four straight times. Can the Pats defense continue to hold the lead? The offense needs to start getting back on track.
Watt had zero sacks and zero passes defensed in the first half.— Christopher Price (@cpriceNFL) December 11, 2012
Second half is under way and Aqib Talib is not on the Patriots sideline. He had been shadowing Andre Johnson in the first half. Defense will have to adjust.
We've certainly seen the Patriots offense look that unstoppable this year, but it seems like the Texans settled down and the Patriots level of execution dropped a bit. They'll need to get back up to their level of the first quarter if they want to close the game out.
But the real story here has been the Patriots defense. They haven't shut down an attack like the Texans like this in a long time. Still there's a lot of football left to play and it must continue.
Vince Wilfork has been an absolute beast, but the rest of the defense is playing up to his level. All in all this was one of the most impressive halves of the year for the Pats, but as we've mentioned before the biggest key is playing a full sixty minutes and finishing the game out on both sides of the ball.
They've set themselves up well, now they need to turn in another dominant half and send a message to the rest of the NFL.
And another 4th down stop for the Patriots defense, as Jerod Mayo came in unblocked on Schaub. Also looks like Talib is okay. Impressive half from the Patriots defense who look like they're making a statement.
Texans facing another 4th-and-5 as Aqib Talib was shaken up after breaking up a 3rd down pass from Schaub.
Texans force another punt by the Patriots and it appears the New England blitzkreig offense has lost its rhythm. This tends to happen, but so far the Patriots defense is playing at a level we haven't seen in a while around these parts. It must continue or else this game will get close in a hurry.
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