The Texans led by as many as ten points but were unable to break their losing streaking, falling to New England 34-31 at Reliant Stadium on Sunday.
Despite being underdogs at home, the Texans were locked in a shootout that saw five lead changes and one tie. Houston scored first and led 17-7 at halftime.
In the second half, the Patriots offense came alive and outscored Houston 27-14 with three touchdowns and a pair of long-range field goals. The Texans added two more rushing touchdowns, including one by quarterback Case Keenum, but it wouldn't be enough as Houston extended its losing streak to ten games. They're now 2-10 on the season.
"Obviously, we struggled big time in the second half," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "We answered the bell offensively with two big scores, and then I think we had a couple of drops in that one series and I think we could have answered again. We had a lot of opportunities to make plays, ourselves, we just didn't make enough."
Ben Tate finished the day with three rushing touchdowns and 102 yards on 22 carries. Andre Johnson caught eight passes for 121 yards. His eighth catch, which came in the fourth quarter, was the 900th of his career.
Tate's eight-yard touchdown run gave the Texans an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. It capped a five-play, 52-yard drive.
The Texans defense forced a three-and-out for the Patriots on their opening series. Their second drive ended when Johnathan Joseph recorded his second interception of the year.
Randy Bullock's 43-yard field goal just four plays later gave the Texans a 10-0 lead.
After a six-play, 55-yard drive, the Brady found Rob Gronkowki for the first Patriots' score of the game. Gronkowski rolled over while catching the 23-yarder. The Texans' lead was cut to three points with 1:25 remaining in the first quarter.
"It was an adjustment," Brady said. "He was covered early and wheeled out of the route and made a great catch."
Houston's next offensive series led to Keenum's first and only interception of the game. After being sacked for a loss of eight yards by Patriots tackle Isaac Sopoaga, Keenum found himself in trouble just two plays later. With pressure coming from the Patriots, Keenum made his next throw while falling and the pass, intended for DeAndre Hopkins, was intercepted by cornerback Logan Ryan.
New England attempted a 55-yard field goal which was wide right. The Patriots' drive ended after Whitney Mercilus and Jeff Tarpinian sacked Brady for a loss of six yards on third-and-5.
Tate scored his second touchdown of the day with 1:47 remaining of the first half to cap off a seven-play, 55 yard drive that spanned 3:03. Houston led the Patriots 17-7 with 1:47 remaining in the second quarter.
In the second half, New England scored on five of their six possessions. Brady wasted no time adding touchdowns on his first three drives of the half. On the Patriots' opening drive of the third quarter,
Brady found Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, and Shane Vereen for first downs. On his second NFL rushing attempt, James Develin scored a one-yard touchdown run. Develin found his way into the end zone despite several stops over the goal line by Texans defenders.
On the Patriots' second possession of the third quarter, Shane Vereen added another touchdown on a nine-yard pass from Brady on the following possession for New England. The Patriots took the lead, 21-17, for the first time with 8:06 remaining in the third quarter.
Keenum fired back with a drive that included 28 and 9-yard completions to Johnson and a successful quarterback sneak on third-and-1. On the next third-and-1, Gary Kubiak dialed up a play with three receivers lined up and empty backfield. Keenum ran five yards to the left side of the endzone and scored his first career rushing touchdown. The Texans regained their lead 24-21 following a ten-play, 81-yard drive with 2:11 left in the third quarter.
"It was a designed quarterback run," Keenum said. "Our whole line did a great job blocking. We had two receivers over there that did a great job too, and I've been looking forward to spiking it for a while."
The Patriots and Texans each added a rushing touchdown on their following drives. LeGarrette Blount had a seven-yard run to give the Patriots a 28-24 lead. It ended soon after as Tate rushed for his third touchdown of the day just minutes later. The Texans regained the lead following a three-play, 80-yard drive that included a 66-yard gain by Hopkins.
"We knew they were going to change it up and go man-to-man in the second half because we were beating them with the zone in the first half," Hopkins said. "It was a good call by Kub (Kubiak), and we made the play happen."
Gostowksi made a pair of 53-yard field goals in consecutive drives. The first kick tied the score 31-31 and the second gave the Patriots the lead with 3:12 remaining in the game.
On the Texans' next drive of the game, Keenum completed two passes to Andre Johnson for 10 and 15 yard gains. But the drive ended on a fourth-and-12 when Keenum was unable to escape a sack by New England.
With one timeout remaining, Houston's defense held New England to three-and-out. Houston received the ball with 12 seconds remaining. Two plays and two incompletions later, the game was over.
Keenum was 15-of-30 for 272 yards, one rushing touchdown, and one interception. Brady completed 29-of-41 passes for 371 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception for a passer rating of 104.8. Gronkowski caught six passes for 127 yards and one touchdown. Julian Edelman added 101 yards on nine receptions.