The New England Patriots are on their way to their ninth AFC Championship Game, and second straight AFC title game after their thrilling win over Houston Texans 41-28. Houston has certainly put up a fight, but the hole they dug was too deep to get out of it.
On the other hand, The New England Patriots was not about to win a war by digging a foxhole to sit in it. The answers started to show close to the end of the first-quarter when Shane Vereen caught a pass from Tom Brady down the sideline for a 25-yard reception followed by a 1-yard touchdown. The Pats took the lead as 7-3.
In the second-quarter, an unsportsmanlike conduct flag was called on Brandon Lloyd for throwing the ball at the official, and that slowed down the Patriots march down the field. Consequently, they had to settle for a 37-yard field goal; leading the Patriots to 10-3.
A remarkable 47-yard pass to Wes Welker set up the Patriots to the next drive and Brady found Shane Vereen open for an 8-yard touchdown – Pats 17-3.
Houston Texans tried to keep their hopes alive with Arian Foster’s touchdown, which rose to be a questionable touchdown, but the officials stood the call as touchdown. A field goal a few seconds before the end of the first-half set the score board to Patriots 17 – Texans 13.
Here comes the third-quarter and Hernandez went for a 40-yard reception opening up an opportunity for Stevan Ridley to run an 8-yard touchdown; leading the Patriots to 24-13. Matt Schaub mistakenly sent Rob Ninkovich a gift, and Ninkovich gracefully accepted by intercepting the ball. Tom Brady capitalized on Schaub’s mistake and Ridley rushed a 23-yard run to the Texan’s 5-yard line. Tempo was another weapon this Patriots offense had stored. Texan’s defense lacked time to make the necessary adjustments, and out of nowhere, Tom Brady sent Brandon Lloyd a 5-yard touchdown pass. The Patriots added on the board again, 31-13.
Houston Texans tried to lessen their deficit with DeVier Posey circus catch near the sideline of the end zone and the Texans were trailing the Patriots 38-20. The Texans were being persistent and Matt Schaub threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Arian Foster, and followed with a 2-point conversion pass to Andre Johnson; closing the gap to only 10 points; 38-28. Seeing a possible light at the end of the tunnel with an approximate 5 minutes left in the fourth-quarter, Houston Texans went for an onside kick. The ball bounced on the ground and into two Texans, but it was Rob Ninkovich who was there to pick up the ball.
It looks like the Patriots have learned their lesson in time-management, especially, the last few minutes of the fourth-quarter. The Patriots took up a significant amount of time, marched down the field, called their time outs, knee to let the clock run, and sent Stephen Gostkowski to finish up the battle with a 38-yard field goal – Patriots 41, Texans 28.
It is still a battle field out there, and Patriots got gear up and reload for next Sunday’s AFC title game rematch against the never-go-away Baltimore Ravens.
You can follow Celia Westbrook on Twitter @celiawestbrook