The loss added insult to injury, as the squad watched its record-setting slot receiver, Wes Welker, leave the game early after just three offensive plays. Welker's left knee buckled during a 12-yard reception — his franchise-record 123rd of the season — and the wiry wideout hobbled off the field before being carted into the locker room.
New England mustered just 317 total net yards while the Texans bagged their first winning season in franchise history, finishing off the regular season with a 9-7 record.
Texans 34, Patriots 27
Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
Jan. 3, 2010
Headliner: Houston strong safety Bernard Pollard came away with six total tackles to go with an interception and fumble recovery for a touchdown.
With the New England offense pinned at
its own 1-yard line with just under five minutes to go in the first half, running back Fred Taylor
was stripped of the ball by defensive end Antonio Smith and outside
linebacker Zac Diles. Pollard jumped on the loose ball just inside the Pats' goal line
for the defensive touchdown giving the Texans what was then a 13-10 lead.
Game Ball: Texans running back Arian Foster led all rushers with 119 yards on 20 carries and had a pair of touchdowns.
Running back Fred Taylor led the Patriots ground attack with 33 rushing yards, as the veteran rusher bagged his first and second touchdowns since missing 10 games with an ankle injury. Also helping out the Pats in the losing effort was Julian Edelman, who stepped up his game in Welker’s absence. Edelman made 10 catches for 103 yards and saw
considerable action with both Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer under center.
Better Luck Next Week: The Pats’ rushing attack — which was without Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk, who were both inactive — was grounded for the majority of the contest and ended with just 74 net rushing yards. Up until the final frame, Hoyer was leading the squad with 10 rushing yards on one carry before Taylor bagged a 12-yard run as the third-quarter clock expired.
Brady struggled without his favorite target as he bagged just 186 yards on 17-of-26 passing. Although he split time with his backup, Hoyer, Brady failed to find the end zone for the third time this season as the Pats coughed up their fourth blown lead on the road this year.
Key Moment: With things tied at 27 apiece in the final frame, Pollard picked off Brady to set up the Texans' eventual game-winning, 28-yard drive. In that drive, Foster was handed the ball on all four plays, including the go-ahead tally from three yards out.
Scouting Report: The Patriots are heading back to the postseason after a one-year hiatus. They will finish with either the third or fourth seed in the AFC, depending on the Bengals-Jets game Sunday night.
Regardless of their seed, though, Bill Belichick's crew will face the 9-7 Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough next weekend. The Pats topped the Ravens 27-21 at Gillette Stadium back on Oct. 4.