Patriots rally for 34-31 win over Texans

By KRISTIE RIEKEN - AP Sports Writer
    2013-12-01 17:46

HOUSTON (AP) - Things have gotten so bad for the Houston Texans that Andre Johnson was fielding questions about how this year compares to Houston's franchise-worst 2-14 season in 2005 after the team's latest loss.

''I wouldn't say it feels the same,'' he said. ''Back then I don't think we had a good football team like we have now as far as talent-wise. This season has been disappointing for everybody - a lot of frustration.''

Tom Brady threw for 371 yards and two scores, and Stephen Gostkowski made two long field goals in the fourth quarter Sunday as the Patriots rallied for a 34-31 win over Houston.

The Texans' franchise-record skid reached 10 games. The Jaguars won on Sunday to leave Houston with the worst record in the AFC.

''(It is) very humbling to go from truly visualizing you being in the Super Bowl to you being the worst team in the league ... but it isn't going to stop our fight,'' defensive end Antonio Smith said.

Gary Kubiak coached from the sideline for the first time since suffering a mini-stroke Nov. 3. He missed one game before working the last two games from the booth.

''We're playing hard, we're not always playing good,'' Kubiak said. ''We had a lot of opportunities to make plays ourselves, just didn't make enough.''

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.

The Texans (2-10) had a chance late, but the offense stalled. On fourth-and-13, Case Keenum threw an incompletion as he was being hit.

Ben Tate ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns for the Texans, who haven't won since Sept. 15. It was the first 100-yard rushing game since 2011 for Tate, who has been slowed since Oct. 20 with four broken ribs.

''There are no moral victories,'' Tate said. ''But at least we played a little bit better than we have in the last couple of weeks.''

The victory ended a three-game road skid for the Patriots, who have won 16 of their last 17 December games.

Rob Gronkowski had six receptions for 127 yards and Julian Edelman added 101 yards receiving on nine catches. New England didn't miss starting running back Stevan Ridley, who was not active after having fumbling problems recently.

Keenum threw for 272 yards with an interception and Andre Johnson had eight receptions for 121 yards.

Tate's third score came when he ran 10 yards to make it 31-28. The key play of that drive came on a 66-yard reception by rookie DeAndre Hopkins.

LeGarrette Blount's 7-yard touchdown run had given New England a 28-24 lead.

Before that, Keenum put Houston back on top when he took a keeper 5 yards late in the third quarter. That gave Houston four touchdowns rushing Sunday after entering the game with two this season.

Brady had picked apart Houston's secondary on a drive he finished by finding Shane Vereen wide open for a 9-yard touchdown to give New England its first lead, 21-17.

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.

A 20-yard touchdown run by Tate extended Houston's lead to 17-7 late in the second period.

Brady had at least five seconds to throw on a 23-yard TD pass to Gronkowski in the first quarter. Gronkowski scooped up the low throw and fell into the end zone for the score.

Keenum was intercepted by rookie Logan Ryan when he threw as he was being hit on Houston's ensuing possession.

Gostkowski's 55-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide right broke his streak of 21 straight made field goals, the second longest in team history.

Tate put Houston up early on an 8-yard run and Randy Bullock made a 43-yard field goal to push the lead to 10-0.

NOTES: Johnson became 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 149 games. ... 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 season.


AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org

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