FOXBORO – The Texans lost 42-14 to the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football at Gillette Stadium, dropping their record to 11-2 and missing a chance to get a stranglehold on earning the top seed in the AFC.
It was a lopsided affair from the get-go, with the Patriots scoring on each of their first three possessions on touchdown passes by Tom Brady to take a 21-0 lead. The Texans trailed 14-0 after the first quarter, 21-0 at halftime and 28-7 after the third quarter.
"We got our tails kicked," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "Give them credit. They got after us all night long. No excuses. They got after us pretty good."
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went 21-of-35 for 296 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions (125.4 rating). The Texans sacked him one time. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was 19-of-32 for 232 yards with no touchdowns and an interception (68.8 rating). He was sacked twice. Both quarterbacks were replaced by their backups midway through the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
The Texans were penalized seven times for 70 yards. Two of their defensive penalties came on third down in the first half, extending Patriots drives and leading to touchdowns. On offense, the Texans got into Patriots territory five times and into the red zone only twice on 13 possessions.
"It just kept seeming like everything was going wrong," Texans defensive end Antonio Smith said. "Every time something good would happen, something bad would happen. Just couldn't get the momentum going our way."
Wide receiver Lestar Jean dropped an over-the-shoulder pass on third down on the Texans' first drive. Tom Brady drove the Patriots drove into Texans territory and threw an incomplete pass on third-and-six from the 34-yard line, but cornerback Brandon Harris was flagged for holding to extend the drive. Two plays later, running back Steven Ridley fumbled at the 4-yard-line. Cornerback Kareem Jackson was first to the ball but couldn't obtain possession, and the Patriots recovered at their own 7. Brady hit tight end Aaron Hernandez for a touchdown pass on the very next play.
On the Texans' next drive, Schaub was picked off in the end zone by Devin McCourty on second-and-eight from the New England 21. He tried to pass to Kevin Walter over the middle into double coverage. The Patriots then drove 82 yards in six plays for a 37-yard touchdown catch by Brandon Lloyd.
After a three-and-out by the Texans, safety Danieal Manning was flagged for pass interference on third down on the Patriots' next drive. Instead of having to punt, the Patriots scored three plays later on a four-yard touchdown catch by Hernandez.
Down 21-0, the Texans drove into Patriots territory twice in the second quarter but turned the ball over on downs both times.
Five minutes into the third quarter, the Patriots went up 28-0 with a 63-yard touchdown pass from Brady to wide receiver Donte Stallworth. Stallworth beat cornerback Brandon Harris on the play on third-and-10.
The Texans got on the scoreboard with a one-yard touchdown run by Arian Foster with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter, making the score 28-7. That capped a seven-play, 88-yard scoring drive that was keyed by a 23-yard run by Ben Tate and 30-yard catch by James Casey.
The Patriots went up 35-7 with 14:15 remaining on a play that summed up the Texans' night. Running back Danny Woodhead picked up 16 yards on a short pass to the right. Defensive end J.J. Watt chased him down at the 10-yard line and forced a fumble. The ball popped forward and bounced into the end zone, and Lloyd recovered it for a touchdown to essentially ice the game.
Patriots running back Stevan Ridley scored on a 14-yard touchdown run on third down with 7:28 remaining. Texans safety Shiloh Keo picked off Ryan Mallett at the New England 31-yard line with 3:01 remaining to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Texans quarterback T.J. Yates.
At 11-2, the Texans still have the best record in the AFC. They control their own destiny for the No. 1 seed in the conference with games remaining at home against the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota vikings and on the road at Indianapolis.