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First-quarter notes: Patriots 7, Texans 3

01.13.13 at 5:17 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The first quarter is in the books here at Gillette Stadium. Here are a few quick notes on how the first quarter has played out.

‘€¢The Texans won the toss and decided to receive.

‘€¢To open the game, New England had outside linebacker/edge rusher Rob Ninkovich and cornerback Aqib Talib on the field. Both had been dogged by hip injuries over the last couple of weeks, with Talib suffering his in the regular-season meeting between the Patriots and Texans, while Ninkovich went down in the regular-season finale against the Dolphins. On offense, Rob Gronkowski drew the start at tight end alongside Aaron Hernandez.

‘€¢However, Gronkowski appeared to injure his left arm on New England’s second series, and was seen on the sidelines in clear pain before heading to the locker room. Running back Danny Woodhead was clocked early on by J.J. Watt, and left the game after suffering what appeared to be some sort of hand injury. To this point, neither have returned.

‘€¢A 94-yard kickoff return by Danieal Manning got the Texans started, bringing them all the way to the New England 5-yard line. But a pair of missed connections to the end zone and a three-yard run from Arian Foster later, they were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Shayne Graham to make it 3-0. It continued a similar theme for Houston, which has struggled in the red zone in recent weeks.

‘€¢A pair of drops stalled things for both offenses, as Wes Welker couldn’t hold onto a Tom Brady pass to keep a New England drive alive, while Foster had a similar problem for the Texans.

‘€¢Ridley was in on the third drive of the game for the New England offense, and got the drive started with a 14-yard rush. That was followed up with a 25-yard catch-and-run on a pass play for Shane Vereen, and it was Vereen who finished off the drive with a one-yard run to give New England a 7-3 lead with 1:28 left in the first quarter.

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