|Third-quarter notes: Patriots 31, Texans 13||01.13.13 at 6:59 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Three quarters are done here at Gillette Stadium, and here are a few notes on what happened the last 15 minutes:
•After allowing 10 points in the final 75 seconds of the second quarter, the Patriots erased the stink of that sequence with a nice one of their own. New England opened with the ball, and quickly made its way downfield. A 40-yard completion from Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez got the Patriots into the red zone, and shortly thereafter, Stevan Ridley busted in over the right side — another big hole through that side of the line, which has done a very nice job in run blocking — from eight yards out to make it 24-13 with 11:30 left in the third quarter.
•Midway through the third quarter, a 28-yard completion from Matt Schaub to Arian Foster out of the end zone gave the Texans some breathing room. On the play, Patriots outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich — who suffered a hip injury in the regular-season finale and isn’t all that fast to begin with — was able to chase down the speedy running back from behind.
•Later on that same drive, Ninkovich came up with the defensive play of the game to this point for New England, as he deftly dropped into coverage and baited Schaub into a throw over the middle. The linebacker reached up came away with the ball, changing the momentum once again. Ninkovich has been involved in so many big plays over the last two seasons, it’s hard to keep track of each one. But there he was again, coming away with the ball.
•The Patriots made the Texans pay with a six-play, 63-yard drive that only took 2:53, and ended with a five-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Brandon Lloyd to make it 31-13 with 1:21 left in the quarter. It marked the first postseason touchdown of Lloyd’s career.
•On the injury front, Danny Woodhead was spotted on the sideline, but did not return to the game, while Rob Gronkowski was not spotted on the sidelines. Meanwhile, rookie defensive end Chandler Jones was on the sidelines for the start of the third with his helmet off. Later in the third, the Patriots announced that Jones suffered an ankle injury, and his return is questionable.
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