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Snap Judgments: Patriots dominate Texans in Monday night blowout

12.10.12 at 11:39 pm ET
By

FOXBORO — The Patriots made an emphatic statement Monday night with a 42-14 rout of the Texans, moving to 10-3 on the season. It was the seventh consecutive win for New England, who dominated the highly regarded Texans in pretty much every aspect of the game: Tom Brady finished 21-for-35 for 296 yards and four touchdowns. Meanwhile, Stevan Ridley had 18 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Brandon Lloyd had seven catches for 89 yards and a touchdown and Aaron Hernandez had eight catches (on 11 targets) for 58 yards and two touchdowns.

Houston. which came into the game with an 11-1 mark — the best record of any visiting team to come into Gillette Stadium in the month of December — was sluggish for most of the night and never managed to get on track. Quarterback Matt Schaub finished the game 19-for-32 for 232 yards with no touchdowns and one pick. (He was relieved midway through the fourth quarter by backup quarterback T.J. Yates.)

WHAT WENT RIGHT

•The Patriots took it to the Texans right out of the gate, scoring on their first three drives and never allowing Houston to seize control. New England was up 14-0 after one quarter — with the first on a pass play to Hernandez, the second coming on a sweet looking deep ball to Lloyd — and 21-0 at halftime, and while there were a few anxious moments in the second and third quarter, the Patriots were in control the rest of the night. New England played like a team that was sick and tired of hearing about the greatness of the Texans, and it showed as they put the hammer down on Houston and gave them something to think about if they meet again in the postseason.

Vince Wilfork was immense in the middle for the New England defense, continually blowing up the Houston running game and not letting Texans running back Arian Foster do much of anything at all — Foster finished with 15 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown, with much of it coming after the game was out of reach. In that same vein, Andre Johnson statistically had an impressive line (eight catches for 95 yards), but was never really a factor on the evening as Aqib Talib did a nice job holding him in check in the first half.

•While he did display some feistiness throughout the evening — including an awesome forced fumble in the fourth quarter after chasing down Danny Woodhead from behind — the Patriots were able to do a good job minimizing the impact of All-World defensive lineman J.J. Watt. When the game was in doubt, Watt was shut down — he didn’t have a sack, pass defensed or quarterback hit over the course of the first half. And while he remained active over the course of the game, he finished without a sack for the first time since a Nov. 11 win over the Bears.

WHAT WENT WRONG

•At the end of the second and start of the third quarter, the offense got a little bogged down — after scoring on their first three drives of the night, the Patriots had drives of three, four, three and six plays. They broke through with their first touchdown of the second half on a 63-yard touchdown strike from Brady to Donte Stallworth midway through the third quarter.

•Talib — who spent most of the night in single coverage against Johnson — went down with a hip injury at the end of the first half and didn’t return to the game. He was seen on the sideline throughout the second half bouncing around and displaying a good range of motion, but he certainly bears watching when it comes to the injury report on Wednesday. In addition, linebacker Brandon Spikes looked to be hobbled for part of the night, while cornerback Alfonzo Dennard suffered a hamstring injury late and did not return. We also saw cornerback Kyle Arrington limp off after a good night.

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