Patriots Live Blog: Tom Brady’s Four Touchdowns Lead Patriots to 42-14 Blowout of Texans

Tom BradyFinal, Patriots 42-14: It was hyped up to be the game of the year, but it turned out to not be much of a contest.

The Patriots lit up the Texans on both sides of the ball, almost from the start. Things got bad for Houston early on, as the Patriots took a 21-0 lead early, and they didn’t get much better throughout the night.

Tom Brady was almost unstoppable on the evening, throwing for 296 yards and hitting on four touchdown passes to lead the offensive onslaught. He connected with Brandon Lloyd five times, including a 37-yard touchdown strike in the first half, and Lloyd continued the success the rest of the way coming up with a fumble recovery for a touchdown to extend the Patriots lead late in the second half.

But just as good as Brady seemed to be, the defense found a way to be just as good.

Devin McCourty got things going with a first-half interception, but Vince Wilfork was the real star of the defensive show. He managed a strip-sack and a few run stuffs up the middle to stabilize the defense, while a seemingly much-improved secondary found ways to slow Matt Schaub and the Houston passing attack.

In the end, the Patriots were able to contain Arian Foster, who managed just 46 yards on the ground, as well as the pass rush of J.J. Watt, who seemed to be a non-factor for most of the night.

With so many great players deserving of recognition in this one, we’ll give you a choice of which Patriots player had the best night. Vote below and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Fourth Quarter, 2:00, Patriots 42-14:  T.J. Yates, the Texans’ backup quarterback, just led as many touchdown drives as starter Matt Schaub did. Sadly, it was against the Patriots’ second- or maybe third-string unit.

In the only battle the Texans have won on Monday night, Yates outdueled Mallett to earn the “W” in the battle of the backups. Big ups, Yates.

Fourth Quarter, 3:15, Patriots 42-7: It’s Mallett time — also known as the Patriots’ version of the blowout victory formation.

Ryan Mallett didn’t exactly impress with an interception on his only pass of the night, but the sight of him in the game can only mean one thing in New England: a win is the works.

Patriots fans don’t know too much about Mallett just yet, aside from the fact that he’s Brady’s backup. But he does bring smiles to faces of many in the crowd.

Fourth Quarter, 7:15, Patriots 42-7: Stevan Ridley finally found his way back onto the football field, and he was just fed the rock to close out this one.

Ridley, who had just eight carries for 22 yards through thee quarters, saw a serious increase in his work here in the fourth quarter. He’s seen 10 carries for 50 yards this quarter and just scored his 10th touchdown of the season, becoming just the sixth Patriots’ back to accomplish the feat.

Now, we’ve got a 42-7 ballgame and I’d have to say that is all she wrote. Done and done. See you later, Houston.

Fourth Quarter, 14:15, Patriots 35-7: Seriously, nothing could possibly go wrong for the Patriots tonight.

I’ve seen some weird things in my life, but a fumble from the smallest guy on the field — Danny Woodhead — just bounced about 15 yards into the end zone and suddenly Brandon Lloyd has the Patriots up 35-7.

That was a strange sequence and may even eclipse Robert Griffin III’s fumble/touchdown last Monday for best/weirdest touchdown of the year.

Awesomely strange or strangely awesome? Either way it was both unusual and pretty cool.

End Third Quarter, Patriots 28-7: Tom Brady has been as close to perfect tonight as you can get in the NFL these days. And after a nice first-down run to get us into the fourth quarter, and after showing off some excitement, the fans greeted him with the reception he deserves.

The crowd at Gillette Stadium showered Brady with a resounding “MVP” chant heading into the fourth quarter, and the cheers from the crowd could probably be heard all the way in Sharon — the next town over.

He really does deserve more MVP hype, though. He’s been unbelievable this year.

Third Quarter, 2:01, Patriots 28-7: The Patriots have a clear points advantage over Houston here tonight. But the same doesn’t hold true when looking at the yards disparity.

In fact, as of the 4:00 mark in the third quarter, the Patriots had only out-gained the Texans by 12 yards — 287 to 275. That’s wild considering the stark difference on the scoreboard.

Obviously, the numbers don’t tell the whole story all of the time — and that’s definitely the case tonight.

Third Quarter, 6:12, Patriots 28-7: Arian Foster finally gets the Texans on the board, and the crowd greets him with some resounding boos.

It only took 38 minutes and 48 seconds, but Houston finally cracked that goose egg and have cut their deficit to 28-7.

Still, when you’re up 21 points is it really necessary to boo? I mean, you’re leading … by a lot. What’s the purpose of booing an opponent just happy to get on the board and regain some semblance of dignity?

Whatever. I just think Patriots fans could be a little more respectful and less idiotic sometimes. That’s not to call everyone out, but come on.

Third Quarter, 9:49, Patriots 28-0: Just when we get done chatting about Donte Stallworth, what does he go out and do? Stick the dagger into the Texans.

Stallworth showed off his speed in his first game back in New England, beating his man over the top and taking a 63-yard catch and run to the house for a touchdown.

Now that the dagger is in, giving the Patriots a 28-0 lead, it will be interesting to see if the Texans start messing around with things and trying to figure out the Patriots’ weaknesses.

Anyhow, Gillette is bumping right now. “Jump Around” is playing on the loudspeakers and the fans are following that command.

Third Quarter, 13:03, Patriots 21-0: We’ve got our first Donte Stallworth shot of the evening.

After playing just a handful of snaps in the first half, Stallworth finally got a look deep downfield. He didn’t convert on the catch, even though he had his man beat, but his speed is definitely an asset the Patriots could use downfield.

Lloyd’s big catch earlier in the game was a nice sign of what could be, but with Stallworth back in the fold maybe he’ll become the deep threat Brady’s needed this year.

Halftime, Patriots 21-0: With the dagger in hand, the Patriots just couldn’t land the final blow before halftime.

After a dominating performance on both sides of the football put New England up 21-0, Tom Brady and the offense had a chance to send the Texans to the locker room with a four-score deficit. Unfortunately, they couldn’t pull it off.

Oh well, you can’t expect a Jets-like blowout with these guys anyhow.

Brady threw for 165 yards and three scores, hitting Hernandez on two of them. The offense would seem to be the story heading into the locker room, but the defense played about as well as they have all season in the first half.

Devin McCourty’s interception may seem like the highlight, but Vince Wilfork was the real story of the first thirty minutes. Talk about a beastly performance. Wilfork was stuffing runs, sacking Schaub and forcing fumbles as he just murdered the Houston offensive line with his size and power. With two batted balls at the line of scrimmage to kick things off, the Patriots secondary has also been stellar with six total passes defended in the first half and Andre Johnson, who caught four balls for 58 yards, shut down for the most part.

We’ll see if they can continue this rout into the second half.

Second Quarter, 2:00, Patriots 21-0: If you came into this knowing nothing about the NFL standings, you’d have guessed that the Patriots were undefeated and the Texans were on the bottom of the league. Well, that’s not reality but it certainly looks that way.

I’m not sure if Houston just came in here with too much confidence or were just overwhelmed by how ready Bill Belichick can be on an extended week.

Either way, this is embarrassing, especially if they put up a goose egg for the half. Yikes.

Second Quarter, 4:17, Patriots 21-0: Kyle Arrington might have been the most maligned member of the Patriots’ secondary earlier this season. But with a shift inside to the slot corner spot, it looks like he’s finally rediscovered himself.

He’s come up with a few big plays already tonight, the biggest being that fourth-down pass breakup to get Houston’s offense off the field and give New England a chance to stick the dagger in here.

Second Quarter, 8:03, Patriots 21-0:  With so much talk about the offense so far, there’s been little time to discuss the best player on the field tonight: Vince Wilfork.

Wiflork has been an a absolute beast so far, just continuing his trend of lighting up opposing O-lines and quarterbacks.

Schaub has had no time to pass, and Foster has found himself trapped when running inside.  Add on his 20-yard sack and a forced fumble, and yup, Wilfork has been a monster,

If there was a first-half MVP for this game, it’d have to be Wilfork.

Second Quarter, 11:01, Patriots 21-0: Aaron Hernandez is at it again, and the rout is on.

I’m not saying this is going to be a blowout by night’s end, but you’ve got like the Patriots’ chances as Brady extends this lead to 21-0.

Not sure who might have expected a massive blowout like this, especially this early. But it’s on, and it hasn’t been pretty.

Hernandez now has two touchdowns tonight, matching his season total entering the game. Yup, I’d say he’s healthy.

End First Quarter, Patriots 14-0: The game of season seems to be shaping up like just another typical day at The Razor for Patriots fans.

Whatever might have been said about this showdown ahead of kickoff can now be thrown out the window. Brady has completed 6 of 8 for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Oh yeah, and Brandon Lloyd showed up. Crazy, I know.

The Patriots’ offensive line has done a stellar job shutting down J.J. Watt and the Houston pass rush, and the Patriots defenders continue to come up with big plays — like Wilfork’s strip-sack and McCourty’s interception.

This game could get out of hand, and fast, if things don’t turn around for Houston soon.

First Quarter, 2:47, Patriots 14-0: Okay, so now Brandon Lloyd’s getting in on the action. Talk about a guy who really needed to step up in a big way. Well, he’s doing it.

Lloyd has been a ghost by all accounts over the past few games, and now with Edelman out, he’s finally rediscovering himself in this Patriots offense.

Not that Brady didn’t have a big part in that 37-yard touchdown toss, but Lloyd’s the real story there. We’re finally seeing a deep ball connection between the two … not like we’ve been waiting four months for that or anything.

First Quarter, 5:37, Patriots 7-0: Remember after the Baltimore game when everyone and their mother was hating on Devin McCourty? Well, how do you like him now?

McCourty made yet another huge play, picking off Schaub’s pass in the end zone and giving the Patriots the ball back with a chance to take a commanding two-score lead.

Since the switch to safety, McCourty has had a major impact in the secondary and he’s been playing maybe the best football of his young NFL career. A good move, I’d say.

First Quarter, 9:27, Patriots 7-0:  Aaron Hernandez looked pretty healthy last week in Miami, and an early touchdown would only seem to reinforce that this week.

With Edelman now out, Hernandez’s health is of utmost importance for the well-being of this offense. Welker has been the main target in the early going against Houston, but Hernandez will obviously be a focal point going forward.

A healthy Hernandez is important for Brady’s confidence on the outside. And surprise, surprise but it was Matthew Slater, not Donte Stallworth, getting the first look as the third receiver on offense. That could be a budding storyline, especially given Slater’s speed.

First Quarter, 12:38: The Patriots defense looked like it might be in trouble, but after a pair of big runs by Arian Foster, the D finally came around.

Julian Edelman’s gap on special teams appears to be filled, too, as Wes Welker was the one returning the first punt of the day. We’ll see how Brady and the offense replace him on the outside, it will be a tough task.

8:25 p.m.: This game has all the feel of a late-January showdown, but luckily for the NFL it’s taking place on a Monday in December.

Such an important game, and one that will have such a major impact on the AFC playoff picture, also features plenty of major storylines. But when thinking of this one, a few names pop off the page and those are the ones that will be the biggest factors in the result here at Gillette.

With that in mind, we’ll have to be selective as we jump into the weekly Three And Out and examine the Patriots’ three biggest keys heading into this one.

1. Lights out on Watt – J.J. Watt might be the best pass rusher in football, and Sebastian Vollmer has the unfortunate duty of containing him. But after a terrible week in Miami, Vollmer may need some help. Can the Patriots’ offensive line keep Watt out of the backfield and make sure Brady stays upright?

2. Replacing Edelman – Donte Stallworth is back in town and he’s being tasked with filling in for the injured Julian Edelman. Can he live up to the lofty expectations? If not, then it will likely fall on the shoulders of Wes Welker and the ghost that is Brandon Lloyd. Different guys will have to work together to replace Edelman, but the biggest issue likely lies on special teams.

3. Ground Control – The Patriots have a successful rushing attack with Stevan Ridley, and now Brandon Bolden is back. But can Vince Wilfork and the defense contain one of the NFL’s best backs in Arian Foster? Establishing a presence at the line will be huge, and the work of Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo will be even bigger in containing Foster on any runs beyond the line. The team able to best establish the ground game is likely the one that will come out ahead at night’s end.

8:02 p.m.: If there was one area of the Patriots that could be considered a weakness this year, it would be in the secondary.

The addition of Aqib Talib has helped to dispel at least some of that notion, but the secondary has continued to struggle at times against top-flight passing attacks. Now, Houston’s passing game wouldn’t necessarily be described as “top-flight” but it does feature some talent.

Matt Schaub is an accurate thrower and solid decision-maker, while his favorite target Andre Johnson is one of the best receivers in all of football, even at 31 years old.

The combination of Schaub and Johnson, along with the ability of Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels, will test Talib and the secondary. So, it will fall on the shoulders of Devin McCourty, Steve Gregory and even rookie Alfonzo Dennard to combat the attack and make Houston as one-dimensional as possible.

7:17 p.m.: The Patriots will be as close to full health as they’ve been in a while on Monday, and just in time for the biggest game of the year.

Logan Mankins and Chandler Jones are both back on the active gameday roster for New England, and they’ll both be relied upon heavily to give the Patriots an advantage against a scrappy Texans team.

Check out the inactives for both the Patriots and Texans below.

Patriots:
OL Nick McDonald,
OL Marcus Zusevics,
TE Rob Gronkowski,
DE Jake Bequette,
DL Ron Brace,
DB Derrick Martin,
FB James Develin

Texans:
CB Alan Ball;
OLB Brooks Reed;
OG Antonio Caldwell;
OG Cody White;
OT Derek Newton;
TE Garrett Graham;
NT Terrell McClain

6:58 p.m.: J.J. Watt is an animal, as I referenced in the post below. But he’s so aggressive and impressive, that even the Patriots’ former All-Pro left tackle is glad he won’t be tasked with defending Watt here on Monday.

Matt Light, who is set to be honored at halftime, talked a little bit about life after football before Monday’s game, and mentioned Watt while saying, “There’s a lot of guys I’m glad I don’t have to face anymore.

Keep it locked on NESN.com for more on Light’s pregame chat with reporters.

6:24 p.m.: Sebastian Vollmer has a very difficult task tonight, maybe the most difficult he’s faced on the field since entering the NFL.

Coming off one of the worst games of his young career, Vollmer will be tasked with stopping the AFC’s sack leader and one of the best defensive lineman in all of football in J.J. Watt.

Watt, who is one of the most athletic lineman, maybe ever — see this video of his 55-inch vertical leap as evidence — won’t be an easy force to stop or even slow down.

Tom Brady could be in some deep trouble dealing with Watt’s outside presence and unbelievable swatting ability unless Vollmer is able to respond with arguably the best game of his career.

Watt is a serious concern for the Patriots coming into this Monday night game, and there’s no question he’ll have an impact on the outcome — one way or another.

6:02 p.m.: Brandon Bolden is back, and just in time for what’s being billed as the biggest game of the year.

The rookie running back’s suspension has been over for about a week now, and the Patriots have added the dynamic runner to the 53-man roster ahead of Monday night’s game in Foxboro.

Bolden, who broke through as a solid backup to Stevan Ridley earlier this season, got popped with a four-game suspension after breaking the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

The 22-year-old back has 43 carries for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the season. His success might not matter, though, as both Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen have emerged out of the backfield in his absence.

He may be back on the 53-man roster, but it’s still left to be seen if Bolden will be active for Monday night’s game here against Houston. In a wet one with potential to turn into a ground-and-pound showdown, Bolden could be important.

5:30 p.m.: Welcome to a rainy and tarp-covered Gillette Stadium. We’re all getting settled up here in the press box, but both Patriots and Texans fans are getting amped up out in the parking lot in front of the stadium.

With the rain expected to pour down for the majority of the night, both sides could be in for a sloppy New England evening. But if that does turn out to be the case, Houston may actually be the one to benefit most.

The Patriots have realigned their offense this season and produced one of the most improved running games in the NFL. But the Texans still boast one of the most, if not the most, dominant ground games in football. Arian Foster has been churning out tough yards all year. And with weather similar to their win in Chicago, the Texans could be in for another treat.

Anyhow, here’s a look down at the field inside Gillette circa 5:40 p.m. There’s plenty more where this came from, so stay tuned.

Gillette

Photo via Twitter/@lukefhughes

1 p.m.: It’s strange not having football until Monday night, but that just means more time to get ready for the game.

We’ve been asking all week who needs to step up this week against the Texans, and Aqib Talib has been getting a lot of votes. Although the Patriots’ defense — and secondary, especially — has been looking a lot better since Talib arrived, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s been playing well, or up to his potential. Tonight is a big stage for him to prove himself and see whether he can not only lift the team but also show off his individual game.

Two players who didn’t make our poll will also likely see their numbers called tonight: receivers Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. Getting Welker involved early has helped the Patriots when they’ve been successful, while Lloyd has all but disappeared in recent weeks. And, of course, Donte Stallworth is back on the roster for this one.

The Patriots have just three games after tonight to get their house in order before the playoffs. How comfortable Tom Brady is with his receivers will be key down the stretch.

8 a.m.: Are you ready for some football? A Monday night party, perhaps? Well, do we have a game for you.

Tom Brady welcomed a new addition to his family earlier this week, and now he’s looking to add another tally to the Patriots’ win column. But with the AFC’s premier team coming to visit, Brady and the boys have a tough test ahead of them.

The Texans enter Gillette Stadium at an NFL-best 11-1. They have their eye on clinching a first-round bye in the playoffs — a privilege the Patriots are also chasing.

Houston running back Arian Foster should have a big impact on the ground, as his combination of speed and power will test Vince Wilfork and a stout Patriots rush defense. Pair Houston’s running game with Matt Schaub’s efficiency and Andre Johnson’s big-play ability, and the Texans look like a well-oiled offensive machine.

On the other side of the ball, J.J. Watt has been a beast all season and should put pressure on Brady all night long, especially with a battered offensive line and Logan Mankins’ status still uncertain.

Donte Stallworth is back in the fold, giving Brady another option on the outside since Julian Edelman was put on injured reserve. The receiver’s ability to pick up the offense and reestablish his presence will be key to New England countering one of the NFL’s best pass defenses.

There’s plenty of stones left to be unturned ahead of kickoff, so keep it here for all your up-to-the-minute news, notes and analysis on everything about your New England Patriots.

Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

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