From the press box - 3:06 p.m.The Texans are 9-7 for the first time in franchise history. After the defense stopped the Patriots' last-gasp drive, Schaub kneeled out the remaining 14 seconds of game clock to give the Texans a 34-27 victory and keep them in postseason contention.
The Patriots started at their own 34-yard line with 1:47 remaining and all three timeouts. Hoyer took them all the way down to the Texans' 34-yard line before the Texans made their stop. On fourth-and-three with 18 seconds left on the clock, cornerback Brice McCain broke up a pass over the middle intended for Edelman. That effectively ended the game and set off a raucous celebration on the Texans' sidelines and among the 71,000-plus in the stands.
The Texans will now need two of three teams - the Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs - to lose later today. If that happens, they'll be in the playoffs for the first time ever.
From the press box - 2:52 p.m.And... rookie quarterback Brian Hoyer is now back in the game, making his first appearance of the second half. Odd.
The Patriots just used their first timeout with 50 seconds left to play. Hoyer has thrown three quick passes for 25 yards and has the Patriots at the Houston 41-yard line.
From the press box - 2:52 p.m.Touchdown, Arian Foster, and it's 34-27 with 1:54 left in the game. Foster ran for three yards off the left guard for the score. He got the Texans down to the three-yard line with a seven-yard, pile-moving carry just before the two-minute warning. Those two carries bring his career-best total to 20 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Quarterback Matt Schaub is now 24-of-39 for 303 yards and two touchdowns.
The Texans needed just 1:55 and four plays to score after Pollard's interception.
From the press box - 2:49 p.m.Bernard Pollard intercepted Brady on second-and-14 from the New England 19. Brady was pressured by Mario Williams on the play. Pollard returned it 15 yards to the 28-yard line, giving the Texans the ball in a tied game with four minutes left.
And now after two carries for 18 yards by Arian Foster, the Texans have a first-and-goal at the 10. Foster has 109 yards rushing today on 18 carries.
What a turnaround.
From the press box - 2:43 p.m.Touchdown, Texans, and it's a 27-27 game with less than five minutes to go. Arian Foster up the middle for the score on first-and-goal from the one.
To set up Foster's touchdown, Schaub converted on third-and-12 from the 26 with a 15-yard pass to Andre Johnson. He hit Andre Davis on the next play for a 10-yard pass down to the one-yard line.
The Texans have 413 yards of offense today, their fourth consecutive game with more than 400 yards.
Paid attendance was just announced at 71,029. It's the second-largest crowd in Texans history and the team's 80th consecutive sellout.
From the press box - 2:38 p.m.A leaping touchdown catch by Jacoby Jones pulled the Texans to back within seven points with about 10 minutes left to play. Jones caught an eight-yard pass from Schaub and got his tiptoes down in the back of the end zone to make it 27-20. After his score, Jones threw the ball to his mother, Emily London, who sits in the front row behind the end zone.
That capped a 69-yard, nine-play scoring drive.
Jones caught a 17-yard pass on third-and-15 from the the New England 46-yard line to keep the drive alive. On the next play, Schaub threw deep left to Andre Davis. Butler, who earlier had a pick-six, was flagged for pass interference at the three-yard line. Left tackle Duane Brown then drew a false start penalty on first-and-goal from the three, and Schaub connected Jones on the next play.
That was followed by a big-time three-and-out stop by the Texans' defense. The crowd was electric on third-and-four from the 29-yard line, and Mario Williams answered the call by sacking Tom Brady to force a punt.
And Jones just made yet another big play, time returning a 40-yard punt 31 yards to the New England 34-yard line with 7:30 left in the game.
From the press box - 2:22 p.m.Eleven-yard touchdown run by Fred Taylor, his second of the game. Patriots now lead 27-13 with 14:04 remaining in the Texans' 2009 regular season.
Brady moved the Patriots 72 yards in nine plays for the score. He completed passes of seven, eight, 10 and 12 yards to Edelman, who has nine catches for 94 yards today.
The Texans have outgained the Patriots 122-83 in the second half but have been outscored 14-0.
From the press box - 2:16 p.m.The third quarter has come to a close with the score 20-13, Patriots. New England just picked up a first down on a 12-yard carry by Fred Taylor down to the Houston 23-yard line. They're in the midst of a six-play, 49-yard drive.
From the press box - 2:08 p.m.Another missed field goal by Kris Brown has the Texans still down by seven despite a 10-play, 53-yard drive. Brown missed a 56-yard attempt at the end of the first half. He was wide right from 38 yards out this time around, with 2:57 left in the third quarter. Brown also missed an extra point in the second quarter. The score remains 20-13.
Jacoby Jones picked up two first downs on the drive, one on a 17-yard pass on third down and another on a nine-yard pass two plays later.
From the press box - 1:58 p.m.The Texans were driving down the field for the go-ahead score when Pats cornerback Darius Butler returned an interception 91 yards for a touchdown. On a second-and-10 play from the New England 15, Schaub darted a pass over the middle to Jacoby Jones. It bounced off of Jones' hands and into Butler's, and he took it to the house to make it 20-13, Patriots.
The Texans, who were turnover-free in the first half, had driven 69 yards in nine plays. There's 7:43 showing on the clock in the third quarter.
The Texans had a scare four plays before the interception when Ryan Moats fumbled after a 15-yard run, but Jones recovered the ball for Houston at the New England 26. Arian Foster had three carries for 18 yards and a seven-yard reception on the drive.
From the press box - 1:47 p.m.Brady's first drive of the second half (how many more will he be in for?) lasted only four plays and 12 yards. The only first down came on a five-yard holding penalty called on the Texans' Glover Quin. The Texans got the ball back at their own 16-yard line after a 38-yard punt.
From the press box - 1:42 p.m.Interesting. Tom Brady is back on the field directing the Patriots' offense to start the second half. Brady played the Patriots' first three series of the first half, then gave way to rookie Brian Hoyer.
From the press box - 1:40 p.m.Now presenting "Halftime by the Numbers":
13-13: The score
209-199: Total yards, in favor of the Texans
17:39-12:21: Time of possession, in favor of the Patriots
1: Defensive touchdown for the Texans, on a fumble recovery by Bernard Pollard
0: Turnovers for the Texans
155: Passing yards for quarterback Matt Schaub, the league's leading passer entering the game
74: Receiving yards for tight end Joel Dreessen, a new career high
5:Catches for Dreessen, also a career high
43: Rushing yards by rookie Arian Foster, who made his first-career start
2: Field goals by Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski
1: Missed extra point by Texans kicker Kris Brown
3:Series for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady before he was pulled
From the press box - 1:30 p.m.The Texans and Patriots go into their respective locker rooms tied at 13 at the half. Texans kicker Kris Brown missed a 56-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the second quarter on a kick that had plenty of leg but was just off to the right. Three consecutive passes for 33 yards from Schaub to Dreessen set the Texans up for the field goal attempt with one second remaining.
The Patriots will receive to start the second half. I'll be back with "Halftime by the Numbers" in a few minutes.
From the press box - 1:24 p.m.Tie game, 13-13, after a 43-yard field goal by Gostkowski with 46 seconds to play in the first half. It was a 10-play, 47-yard scoring drive for the Patriots.
Cushing and Barwin sacked Hoyer for a 10-yard loss on the first play after the two-minute warning. That gives Cushing 4.5 sacks on the season and Barwin 4.0; nice pass rushing production from the Texans' top two draft picks.
Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly injured his ankle on the scoring drive. His return is quesitonable.
From the press box - 1:19 p.m.At the two-minute warning, the Patriots have the ball with a first down at the Texans' 31-yard line. Hoyer, an undrafted rookie from Michigan State, has accounted for all 45 olf the Patriots' yards on their current seven-play drive. He's 4-of-5 for 35 yards and scrambled 10 yards for a first down.
From the press box - 1:14 p.m.A whole lot to digest on a three-play sequence in the second quarter, but the end result was that the Texans grabbed a 13-10 with 4:41 remaining. First, the Texans were stopped on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line; Schaub threw a lob pass for Johnson in the right side of the end zone, but Johnson was held up at the line and the pass went incomplete.
That gave the Patriots the ball at their own one-yard line. Rookie quarterback Brian Hoyer entered the game for Tom Brady. On his first snap, he handed off to Taylor, and the ball was stripped from Taylor by linebacker Zac Diles. Pollard recovered in the end zone for a Texans touchdown. Then, kicker Kris Brown missed an extra point for the first time since 2006.
Texans receiver David Anderson was injured on the drive. After attempting to catch a pass in the end zone, Anderson was hit from behind by safety James Sanders. Anderson lay motionless on the turf for a few seconds, but eventually curled the fingers on his hands and rolled over on to his back. He walked off the field under his own power. Sanders was flagged for uneccesary roughness for hitting a defenseless receiver.
A couple of plays later, it looked like Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo threw a punch at Texans right tackle Eric Winston after a play was over. No flag was thrown, however.
From the press box - 12:55 p.m.The Patriots took a 10-7 lead with 9:51 left in the second quarter on a 51-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. It was a nine-play, 58-yard scoring drive.
A couple of third-down conversions keyed the drive for the Patriots. Early in the drive, on third-and-five from the New England 14-yard line, Brady hit Randy Moss over the middle for a 41-yard gain. Defensive end Antonio Smith got to Brady a second too late, and Moss had plenty of room to run after making the catch.
On third-and-eight from the Houston 43, Brady aired it out to the end zone for Moss. The pass was incomplete, but linebacker DeMeco Ryans was called for defensive holding before the pass was thrown. That resulted in a five-yard penalty and an automatic first down.
The Texans have run only seven plays on their last two possessions combined after driving 76 yards in seven plays on the game-opening drive alone. Let's see if they can put something substantial together and answer with a score of their own.
From the press box - 12:49 p.m.It was just confirmed via an announcement in the press box that Welker injured his knee and will not return.
From the press box - 12:44 p.m.The second quarter began with two incomplete passes by Schaub, which led to a punt. On third-and-10 from the New England 44, the Texans did a great job of picking up a heavy blitz, giving Schaub plenty of time to throw. He unleashed a pass down the left side for Johnson in the end zone, but it fell incomplete with rookie cornerback Darius Butler in coverage.
The crowd wanted pass interference on the play, as it looked like Butler may have shoved Johnson right before the ball arrived. But no call was made. Matt Turk let off a nice punt that Edelman brought in for a fair catch at the eight-yard line, where the Patriots will start their next drive.
From the press box - 12:39 p.m.It's a 7-7 game after a four-yard touchdown run by New England's Fred Taylor with less than a minute left in the first quarter. Nine-play, 63-yard scoring drive for the Patriots.
Receiver Julian Edelman did his best Welker impersonation to set up the score with a 25-yard reception on third-and-four from the Houston 29. Edelman, a 6-0, 198-pound rookie from Kent State. shed coverage from cornerback Glover Quin, caught a pass from Tom Brady and shook safety Bernard Pollard before being brought down at the four-yard line by Dunta Robinson.
The first quarter just came to a close. A 36-yard kickoff return by Andre Davis and a 16-yard catch by Dreessen will have the Texans in New England territory at the 44-yard line to start the second quarter.
From the press box - 12:25 p.m.The Texans ended the Patriots' first drive at the Houston 42-yard line. Defensive end Connor Barwin and linebacker Brian Cushing tackled running back Sammy Morris for a two-yard loss on third-and-four from the 40.
The big story from that drive, though, was an injury to Patriots Pro Bowl receiver wide Wes Welker. Welker limped off the field and was later removed from the sidelines on a golf cart. He tried to make a cut near midfield on his first catch of the game, and his left knee didn't agree with it. Did not look good live or on the replays.
Welker entered the game with a league-high 122 receptions. There was a lot of speculation leading up to the game about how much the Patriots would play their starters, since they've already clinched the AFC East. Shame to see Welker go down.
From the press box - 12:10 p.m.Touchdown, Texans, and it's 7-0 with 11:19 left in the first quarter. Matt Schaub threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joel Dreessen, who was wide -- I mean, *wide *-- open over the middle. That capped a seven-play, 76-yard scoring drive.
Schaub, the league's leading passer, was 4-of-5 for 57 yards on the drive and completed his last four passes. Rookie running back Arian Foster, who made his first-career start, had an impressive 18-yard run two plays before the touchdown. Foster used a good block from Dreessen on the right edge, then turned on the jets and took off for a big gain up the right sideline.
From the press box - 12:02 p.m.The Texans won the coin toss and have elected to receive. Patriots captain Randy Moss called tails and, obviously, it was heads. We're kicking off at Reliant Stadium in about 30 seconds.
From the press box - 12:01 p.m.A stirring rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" was just performed by Hans Stockenberger, who won the Texans' Fan Appreciation Day National Anthem Contest. A 30-year-old Houston native, Stockenberger won over 12 other finalists in an online voting contest.
From the press box - 11:55 a.m.Love the way the Texans' defense does pregame introductions. The starting lineup is announced one player at a time, with smoke emanating from the bull at the Texans' tunnel and the Texans Cheerleaders forming a pathway through which to run. But the defense always runs out as a group, all at once. That's what I call unity.
From the press box - 11:52 a.m.I just got back up to the press box from the field. There's a very palpable electricity in the air at the stadium today. Watching guys like defensive end Antonio Smith bounce around on the field during warmups, it's obvious that the Texans players are jacked up for what amounts to the biggest game in franchise history.
As I was typing that, the Patriots ran out of the tunnel on to the field. Lots of boos from the Reliant Stadium crowd. Patriots look hyped up, too - they're jumping up and down in a rowdy huddle at the 20-yard line.
From the press box - 11:49 a.m.Here's what they're feeding us in the press box for the pregame meal (today's fajitas = quality):
Beef & chicken fajitas
Southwest Caesar salad
Seasonal fresh fruit salad
From the press box - 11:29 a.m.The view from the press box at Reliant Stadium. Fans are trickling in:
From the press box - 11:01 a.m.And away we go with my first game blog of the New Year, my last game blog of the regular season and, hopefully, my first of several game blogs in January. If the Texans beat the AFC East champion Patriots and if two teams among the Ravens (at Oakland), Broncos (vs. Kansas City) and Jets (vs. Cincinnati) lose later today, Houston will be in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
The roof is closed at Reliant Stadium with 41-degree, cloudy New England weather outside today. As reported earlier, the game inactives include five Patriots starters who will sit out today's game. But Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Randy Moss all are active. Rookie running back Arian Foster will make his first-career start, a week after running for 97 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries at Miami.
In case you need a refresher, here are five things to watch for in today's game.