The Texans were set up from the opening kickoff by a Daniel Manning return to the Patriots' 12-yard line. But they had to settle for a field goal and Houston didn't see the red zone again until the end of the second quarter. It was a squandered opportunity where they needed a touchdown.
New England has got three touchdowns from Shane Vereen but the losses of Rob Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead to injuries were significant. It was later reported that Gronkowski broke his arm again and will be out for the rest of the playoffs.
Houston looked in trouble late in the second quarter down 17-3, but ten quick points in the last two minutes got them back into it. But the Patriots opened the second half with a touchdown drive to extend the lead to 24-13 and take back the momentum.
The Texans were moving the ball in the third quarter with their most impressive drive of the day until Rob Ninkovich intercepted Matt Schaub on a third down in Patriots territory. Tom Brady promptly took the Patriots down the field and capped it off with a 5-yard touchdown throw to Brandon Lloyd.
The Texans were forced to go for it on two fourth downs on the ensuing drive. They got the first but Matt Schaub couldn't find an open receiver on the second and the Patriots took over. Tom Brady hit Shane Vereen for his third touchdown to effectively end the game.
The Texans wouldn't go away quietly though and, off their third great kickoff return of the day from Daniel Manning, quickly countered with a long touchdown pass to DeVier Posey.
After a Patriots punt the Texans put together another touchdown drive to cut the lead to ten points with just over five minutes left in the game. But the Patriots recovered the onside kick that followed, in another clutch play from Rob Ninkovich that sealed the game.
The Patriots will have another stiff test with Baltimore, a team that beat them on a last-second field goal in Week Three. They've already become accustomed to getting by without Gronk, but it will certainly limit them against a physical team like the Ravens.
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