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Brady throws 4 TD passes, Pats lead Texans 28-7

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Brady throws 4 TD passes, Pats lead Texans 28-7

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes as the New England Patriots turned their much-hyped game against the Houston Texans into a mismatch, leading 28-7 after the third quarter on Monday night.

The Texans (11-1) entered with the NFL's best record. The Patriots (9-3) had the AFC's third-best mark.

But New England, with plenty of big-game experience with five Super Bowl appearances and three championships in the past 11 seasons, confused and dominated the Texans, who reached the playoffs last season for the first time since joining the NFL in 2002.

Taking advantage of disorganization and poor coverage by the Texans, Brady threw scoring passes on his first three possessions - 7 yards to Aaron Hernandez, 37 yards to Brandon Lloyd and 4 yards to Hernandez, for a 21-0 lead 4 minutes into the second quarter.

The Texans tried to whittle the deficit at halftime by going for it twice on fourth down in the second quarter. They fell short both times with 4:44 and 1:52 left in the half.

Then, on the Patriots' second series of the third quarter, Brady connected on a 63-yard touchdown pass to Donte' Stallworth, who was signed last week after wide receiver Julian Edelman was placed on injured reserve. It gave Brady his 18th game with at least four touchdown passes, moving ahead of Johnny Unitas into fourth place in NFL history

The Texans finally scored on a 1-yard run by Arian Foster with 6:12 left in the third quarter.

Brady finished the third quarter with 18 completions in 31 attempts for 269 yards and threw a scoring pass for the 45th straight game, the third-longest streak of all-time. Schaub was 19 for 32 for 232 yards.

Hernandez and Houston's Andre Johnson both had eight catches.

Both teams have clinched playoff spots and were on six-game winning streaks. They are the highest-scoring teams in the NFL with the Patriots averaging 35.8 points per game and the Texans 29.3.

The Patriots have clinched the AFC East, while the Texans have locked up a playoff berth in the AFC South but have two games left with the Indianapolis Colts (9-4), who are second in the division.

Houston entered as the NFL's only unbeaten team on the road at 6-0. But the Patriots haven't lost at home in December since 2002.

The Texans hurt themselves with an illegal formation penalty that wiped out Foster's 11-yard run on the first offensive play of the game, a defensive holding penalty against Brandon Harris that gave the Patriots a first down at the Houston 29 and an interception by Devin McCourty on Schaub's pass into the end zone.

The Patriots scored on their first possession after a 31-yard punt return by Wes Welker, replacing Julian Edelman, set them up at their 44-yard line for their first series.

Stevan Ridley ran for 18 yards on the first three plays for a first down at the Houston 38. After an incompletion, Harris was called for defensive holding on third-and-6, giving the Patriots a first down. Brady then completed a 25-yard pass to Welker, his 107th consecutive game with a reception.

And two plays later, Brady found Hernandez for his 7-yard scoring pass on the left side.

Schaub then led the Texans to a second-and-8 at the Patriots 21. But when he tried to throw down the middle into double coverage, McCourty picked the ball off and returned it 19 yards, another takeaway by the team that leads the NFL in turnover differential.

That gave Brady the ball at his 18 and he covered the next 82 yards in just 2 minutes, 41 seconds. After an incompletion and a run for no yards by Ridley, Brady completed four consecutive passes. On the last one, Lloyd sprinted away from cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who returned after missing two games with a hamstring injury, and was wide open as he caught the touchdown pass cutting from the right side to the left.

On his second touchdown catch, Hernandez took advantage of a mixup in the Houston secondary and was open on the left side of the end zone, capping an eight-play, 70-yard drive.

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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