5 things to know after Patriots top Texans 34-31
Kristie Rieken, Associated Press
Houston (AP) — Tom Brady raved about Rob Gronkowski after he helped New
England rally for a 34-31 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
"Whenever he gets going, the rest of us get going," Brady said. "I hope
he realizes the importance for him to be able to play that kind of
style for us. It really helps everyone."
The tight end had six receptions for 127 yards and a 23-yard touchdown.
Brady used a 50-yard pass to Gronkowski to get New England to the
Houston 13 early in the third quarter. James Develin was hit by four
Texans, but kept his feet moving and plunged into the end zone for a
1-yard score to cut the lead to 17-14.
He and Brady were disappointed that the Patriots had to rally for a
second straight week.
New England overcame a 24-point first-half deficit last week to beat
the Broncos 34-31 in overtime. The Patriots (9-3) trailed by 10 at
halftime in this one and the lead changed five times in a wild second
half. New England tied it with a 53-yard field goal and took a 34-31
lead with another one from 53 with about three minutes left.
"We've got to start playing better football in the first half, and come
out with a better start, and move the ball better," Gronkowski said.
Gronkowski has gotten into a groove after missing the first six games
after offseason surgery on his back and broken left forearm. He has 560
yards receiving this season and has a touchdown in four straight games.
Gronkowski has 12 100-yard receiving games in his career, which is the
most for a New England tight end. Three of those games have come this
His touchdown on Sunday was the 42nd of his career, which ties him for
fourth-most touchdown receptions in New England history.
He credited Brady's demeanor for helping the Patriots overcome another
first-half hole on Sunday.
"He's a great leader, and he gets everyone motivated in the huddle,"
Gronkowski said. "Every drive you have to be on top of your game, and
you've got to be ready for the ball and you've got to be ready to
Five things to know about the Patriots-Texans game:
SPYING? Houston defensive end Antonio Smith
questioned how New England knew what the Texans were going to do on
defense on Sunday. Smith told reporters after the game Houston had some
new wrinkles in its defense this week and it was "miraculous" how the
Patriots changed their offense to key on the defense.
"Either teams are spying on us or scouting us," he said. "I don't know
what it is."
The NFL fined New England coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team
$250,000 and took away a first-round pick in the 2008 draft for
videotaping New York Jets signals during a game on Sept. 9, 2007.
Belichick said he thought that was allowed and apologized for what he
said was a mistake in his interpretation of the rule prohibiting it.
TERRIFIC TATE: Houston running back Ben Tate
bounced back from gaining just 1 yard on seven carries last week for
his first 100-yard game since 2011. Tate, who has been slowed since
Oct. 20 with four broken ribs, ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns
for the Texans, who haven't won since Sept. 15. Houston had just two
rushing touchdowns this season before Sunday as the team has dealt with
a season-ending injury to Arian Foster and Tate's health issues.
"The positive thing is we did get better as a team," Tate said. "As an
offense we did get better ... but there are no moral victories."
GOSTKOWSKI'S BIG DAY: New England's Stephen Gostkowski hadn't missed a field goal in 21 attempts entering Sunday's
game. He had a 55-yard attempt sail wide right in the second quarter to
end the second longest streak in team history. But he bounced back to
make two 53-yard field goals in the fourth quarter to give New England
He also made four extra points against Houston to move into third place
in NFL history with 350 consecutive extra points.
ANDRE'S MILESTONE: Andre Johnson had eight receptions for
121 yards on Sunday to become the 15th player in NFL history to reach
900 receptions. He did it in his 150th career game, making him the
second fastest to reach the mark behind Marvin Harrison, who did it in
"It's humbling," he said of reaching the mark. "It just shows that the
work you put into the game is paying off."
RUNNING BACK BY COMMITTEE: New England didn't miss
starting running back Stevan Ridley, who was not active after having
fumble problems recently. They started Shane Vereen, but also used
Develin, Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount. Blount had 44 yards
rushing and a touchdown, Vereen had 38 yards rushing and Develin had 4
yards rushing with a touchdown.
NOTES: New England was not called for a penalty. The Patriots
did the same thing on Oct. 6 in a loss at Cincinnati ... Houston had
four touchdowns rushing Sunday after entering the game with two this
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