Rob Gronkowski, Shiloh KeoGiven the Texans’ record and recent performances, the Patriots probably should have been able to blow out Houston.

But the Texans kept it close all game with New England and the Patriots weren’t able to breathe until the final seconds. After the defense kept New England in games through the first half of the season, the Patriots are right back where they have been the past few years — in shootouts.

This year, though, it’s the run defense that can’t hold. The pass defense has taken a step back, but they’re still at least able to keep the Patriots in shootouts.

The offense starred against the Texans, though. There weren’t many individual performances on defense that garnered attention. Check out this week’s five stars of the game below.

Tom Brady: Ever since Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen have both been back, Brady has looked like his old self. In this one, Brady was 29 for 41 with 371 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Brady was off a couple times, but he’s the reason the Patriots were able to win this game.

Brady has now completed 60.7 percent of his passes on the season. That’s way up from the 55 percent he was sitting at after Week 8. Brady’s stats won’t look as pretty as usual once the season’s said and done, but he should be an MVP candidate.

Rob Gronkowski: Gronkowski was huge in this game. His touchdown catch was nearly pulled up off the ground. It wasn’t Brady’s best pass of the game, but it was one of Gronkowski’s best catches of his career.

Gronkowski used his usual brand of power and speed to catch six passes for 127 yards and the score.

Julian Edelman: Edelman continues to outperform the high-priced free agent, Danny Amendola. Edelman had nine catches on 12 targets for 101 yards. Amendola had five catches for 54 yards.

New England needed that kind of performance out of Edelman with Aaron Dobson out. Kenbrell Thompkins got hurt early, so Josh Boyce and Matthew Slater had to come in to play receiver.

Logan Ryan: The rookie cornerback had another solid game. He picked off Case Keenum and had two pass breakups. Ryan has stepped up while Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard have had to miss time.

It wasn’t the most impressive performance from New England’s pass defense (and it didn’t help that they were insisting on staying in zone for much of the game), but Ryan was a bright spot.

Stephen Gostkowski: The kicker gets in! Gostkowski hit two 53-yard field goals. He missed a 55-yarder midway through the second quarter, but he can’t really be blamed for that. A 55-yard field goal would have been a career high for Gostkowski.

Gostkowski’s been solid all season on field goals. He’s also been booting his kickoffs.

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