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(Sunday, December 1st)
Final Score: New England 34, Houston 31
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The New England Patriots engineered another second-half comeback to edge the Houston Texans 34-31 on Sunday.
Stephen Gostkowski drilled two 53-yard field goals in the fourth quarter, the second giving the Patriots the lead with 3:12 remaining.
Tom Brady had 371 yards and two touchdowns on 29-of-41 passing for New England (9-3), which clinched its 13th straight winning season. Last week, the Patriots rallied from a 24-0 halftime deficit to beat the Denver Broncos in overtime.
New England was down 17-7 through two quarters to the Texans before producing points on its first five second-half possessions.
"I wish we could start fast and put the foot on the gas pedal the whole way, but we just got behind a little bit and played better in the second half," said Brady.
The Texans (2-10) put up a valiant fight, but still suffered their 10th consecutive loss.
"We were pretty consistent today moving the football ... we just needed to find some more juice in our last two drives and we didn't do it," said Texans coach Gary Kubiak.
Ben Tate rushed for three touchdowns and 102 yards on 22 carries against a New England defensive unit that began the week ranked 31st against the run. Case Keenum completed 15-of-30 passes for 272 yards and added his first career touchdown run.
The Patriots struck quickly to open the third quarter as Rob Gronkowski's 50- yard grab set up a 1-yard TD run by a determined James Develin. On their next drive, the Patriots covered 73 yards in three minutes and a 9-yard TD catch by Shane Vereen made it 21-17 in favor of the visitors.
A seesaw battle ensued as Keenum's 5-yard keeper around the left end restored the lead for Houston with 2:11 to go in the third.
New England then moved back ahead on LeGarrette Blount's 7-yard TD run. Blount and Vereen split the majority of the carries with Stevan Ridley inactive. Ridley had fumbled in three straight games.
A gross misplay by cornerback Kyle Arrington on the next Houston drive led to a 66-yard reception by DeAndre Hopkins. Back-to-back runs of four and 10 yards by Tate put the Texans up 31-28 with 11:35 left in the fourth quarter.
Gostkowski's long field goals sandwiched a three-and-out by the Texans.
Keenum didn't have an answer again. Facing a 4th-and-12 at the Houston 43 prior to the two-minute warning, he was pressured and his pass fell incomplete.
"I think we got what we expected, a hard-fought game," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "It came down to a couple of plays and once again I'm proud of our guys for making the plays they needed to make."
Keshawn Martin returned the game's opening kickoff to the Houston 44-yard line, but the Texans punted after marching to the New England 39.
Given terrific field position again following a three-and-out by New England, the Texans were able to capitalize this time. Starting from his own 48, Keenum twice hit a wide-open Andre Johnson for passes of 29 and 13 yards before Tate rushed for an 8-yard touchdown.
Houston's trend of starting drives in favorable position continued when cornerback Johnathan Joseph returned a Brady interception 31 yards to the New England 31. Randy Bullock then kicked a 43-yard field goal to give the Texans a 10-0 lead.
The Patriots began their next possession near midfield after a 41-yard kick return by Josh Boyce. Six plays later, they were on the board. Brady threw a low pass to Gronkowski, but the tight end made the shoestring catch and rolled into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown with 1:25 remaining in the first quarter.
The New England defense then forced a turnover as cornerback Logan Ryan picked off Keenum, who was under duress, in the red zone. The Patriots looked to tie the game on the ensuing drive, but Gostkowski missed a field goal try of 55 yards.
Gostkowski had converted 21 consecutive field goals, two shy of Adam Vinatieri's single-season record set in 2004.
Another short field resulted in another touchdown run for Tate, whose 20-yard scamper made it 17-7 late in the second quarter.
Brady reached 3,000 passing yards for the 11th time in his career ... Gronkowski had a game-best 127 yards on six catches ... The Patriots avoided their first four-game road losing streak since 2000 ... Julian Edelman totaled 101 yards on nine receptions for New England ... Johnson made eight grabs for 121 yards. He became the second-fastest player to reach 900 career receptions in NFL history, doing so in 150 games. Marvin Harrison owns the record at 149 games.
12/01 18:26:27 ET
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