FOXBORO -- Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes to Aaron Hernandez and hit Brandon Lloyd and Donte' Stallworth for long TD strikes as the Patriots blew out the Texans, 42-14, in the much-anticipated Monday night showdown at a balmy Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are now 10-3 and keep the inside track for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. They are also now just one game behind the 11-2 Texans for the top seed in the AFC, with wins now over Houston and Denver.
It was Brady's 18th career game of at least four touchdown passes, tying Johnny Unitas for fourth-most in NFL history. Brady finished 21-of-35 for 296 yards and four touchdowns. Arian Foster was held to 46 yards on just 15 carries. Lloyd had a big game, catching five passes on seven targets, including a 37-yard TD pass from Brady and recovered a fumble in the end zone for another touchdown as the Patriots won their seventh straight game in convincing fashion.
Wanting to prove a point, the Patriots came out on fire, scoring touchdowns the first three times they had the ball.
After forcing the Texans to punt on the game's first possession, Brady marched the Patriots 56 yards in just seven plays, capped by a Brady 7-yard swing pass to Hernandez in the left flat for an easy touchdown. Just a play earlier, Hernandez made a game-changing save, as he recovered Stevan Ridley's fumble on a run up the middle at the Houston 4. The TD pass extended Brady's streak of TD passes to 45 games, the longest active streak in the NFL.
With the Texans driving for answering score, Matt Schaub threw an ill-advised pass intended for Kevin Walter in the end zone. Devin McCourty read the play perfectly and picked off the pass at the goal line. Starting at the New England 18, Brady took advantage of the momentum and drove the team 82 yards. The drive ended on a play-action fake to the right from the Houston 37, as Brady hit a wide-open Brandon Lloyd in stride at the 10 for Lloyd's fourth touchdown of the season.
After another Houston punt, Brady opened the second quarter by driving the Patriots 70 yards in eight plays, ending on a quick 4-yard pass to Hernandez for a 21-0 lead. The key play on the drive was a 26-yard pass interference call against Danieal Manning on Wes Welker.
The Texans finally showed some life by forcing three punts on New England's next three possessions but couldn't capitalize as two of their drives ended on incomplete passes on fourth down in New England territory. Brady finished the first half 13-of-19 for 165 yards and three TDs for a quarterback rating of 134.9. The only bit of bad news in the first half was a hip injury suffered by Aqib Talib on a pass breakup late in the second quarter. He returned to the Patriots sideline early in the third quarter.
After punting for a fourth straight game to open the third quarter, Brady hit Donte' Stallworth for a 63-yard bomb and Stallworth won a footrace to the end zone for his first TD in a Patriots uniform since 2007, putting the Patriots up, 28-0. Stallworth was signed this week after a season-ending foot injury to Julian Edelman.
The Texans finally responded with an 88-yard drive in seven plays, capped by a 1-yard TD run by Arian Foster but the game was long decided. Symbolic of the night the Patriots had, Brady completed a swing pass to Danny Woodhead, who ran down to the Houston 11. J.J. Watt was trailing the play from behind and punched it out. The ball flew in the air and Lloyd caught it in the end zone for a 35-7 lead with 14:15 left in the game. The Patriots final score of the night came on a 14-yard run up the middle by Ridley, who ran essentially untouched into the end zone.
The Patriots, who last week clinched the AFC East, now have just five days to get ready for their second big December primetime test, the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night at Gillette Stadium. For complete coverage from the team of Chris Price and Mike Petraglia at Gillette Stadium, visit the Patriots page at weei.com/patriots and the blog It Is What It Is.
Patriots LB, Jerod Mayo, talks about the high praise he's been receiving from coach Belichick, trying to forget about last year, and what the team hopes from the defense.
Patriots WR, Danny Amendola, joined the show for a bit to talk about his health, the evolution of the playbook, and the heated battles between the offense and defense.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss Wednesday's Patriots practice, which featured Brandon Browner getting into it with Kenbrell Thompkins and a couple others.
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Rob and Alex talk with John Farrell about all the moves the Red Sox made at the deadline, what they gave up and what they gained.
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier are in and talking about all the moves made by the Red Sox at the trade deadline, because the most fun thing about the day is talking about the moves of the day. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington held a press conference talking about the Red Sox moves, and Rob and Alex talk with Red Sox manager John Farrell about the moves made at the deadline.
Former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes reacts to the news that he, along with Jon Lester, have been traded to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
DJ Bean joins the program to dismiss the recent rumors that the Bruins are in discussions to trade Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Patrick Marleau
The top stories of the day as recounted by John Dennis.
John, Gerry and Meter react to the breaking news of Jon Lester being dealt to the A's.
ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes gave us the latest on the Lester trade talks.
Lou goes through the 5 stages of grief, then John Lackey gets traded to the Cardinals.
Lou, Christian, and Tim react to the news that Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes have been traded to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes. Lou hates the deal the move, especially because Cespedes is not arbitration eligible.
Former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes joins MFB to react to the news he has been traded along with Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes
Biggest trade deadline day in recent memory for the Boston Red Sox... and not in a good way. We discuss it all as the news happens and take your reactions.
We tackle four topics, all surrounding the four worst Sox trade deadline deals in recent memory.
As news looms about a possible Jon Lester trade, we sit down with the skipper of your Sox live from Fenway park.
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
Mut and Villani are talking about the MLB All Star Game, Adam Wainwright and Derek Jeter, and what are some of the worst ideas in sports.
Sam and Zach discuss changing the format of the Podcast, the Chris Archer-David Ortiz debacle, and LeBron James being a super genius
Particularly in a year where the Red Sox have struggled while trying to integrate numerous young players into regular big league roles, accusations that Red Sox prospects are overrated -- whether by the team or writers -- have been widespread. Jim Callis of MLB.com joins the show to take stock of the matter, and to discuss the team-building impact of overrating and underrating prospects.
With the trade deadline looming, the next few days will be defined by how teams value prospects -- and their potential long-term contributions -- against big leaguers with established track records who can address immediate needs. Are prospects being valued accurately? Red Sox left-hander Andrew Miller -- once one of the two key chips that sent Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins to the Tigers -- assesses the matter.
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Lou, Christian, and Tim react to the news that Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes have been traded to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes. Lou hates the deal the move, especially because Cespedes is not arbitration eligible.More from this show
Former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes joins MFB to react to the news he has been traded along with Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis CespedesMore from this show
Lou goes through the 5 stages of grief, then John Lackey gets traded to the Cardinals.More from this show