Best and Worst: Patriots 34, Texans 16
LEAST SURPRISING START
The Texans first possession went 4-yard completion, 2-yard run, sack, punt.
QUICK STRIKE CENTRAL
The Patriots second drive consisted of a 30-yard pass interference drawn by Chris Hogan on A.J. Bouye, a 22-yard completion to Chris Hogan on an underthrow comeback route and a 13-yard catch-and-run by Dion Lewis on a screen. Zing zang.
BOUNCERS NOT NEEDED
Cornerback Eric Rowe got involved in a scrum after a third-down stop of the Texans and was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct for trying to haul a Texan out of the melee. The penalty extended Houston’s drive which ended in a field goal.
KEPT IT OUT OF BRADY’S HANDS AT LEAST
Following a Texans field goal, Dion Lewis scuttled 98 yards with the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to make it 14-3.
LIKE SLIDING INTO FIRST BASE
The Patriots third drive began with a slant to Michael Floyd that the wide receiver had to stretch for. He seemed to slow slightly to gather himself for a dive and the hesitation seemed to make it a harder attempt than necessary. It was picked off. A field goal resulted.
LEAST AUSPICIOUS START
Twice in the second quarter, center David Andrews had linebacker Whitney Mercilus lined up over him on a third down. Both times Mercilus made quick work of Andrews – once with a swim move, once with a spin – resulting in sacks.
Houston’s Eddie Pleasant greeted James Develin in the flat after the fullback pulled in a short flip from Brady at the Texans’ goal line and Pleasant won the wrestling match, hauling Develin away from the end zone and forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal and take a 17-13 lead into halftime.
HITTING THE GAS
After a sluggish start to the half, the Patriots went up-tempo on their second drive after the break and peeled off a 9-play, 90-yard drive highlighted by a 26-yard throw to Edelman to start the drive, a 14-yarder following that, a 21-yarder to Chris Hogan and a 19-yard pass dropped in nicely to James White for the touchdown.
Houston wide receiver Will Fuller had a deep throw sail through his arms in the end zone after he’d beaten Malcolm Butler for a touchdown late in the third. For a punchless offense, it was a costly miss.
NOT THE RECORD HE WANTED TO SET
Tom Brady threw a pick late in the third – his 30th of the postseason, which tied him with Brett Favre for the most playoff picks – and the Texans turned that into a field goal in the early fourth.