Patriots take back top spot in AFC
HOUSTON — Tom Brady threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns and the Patriots snapped a two-game skid and clinched a playoff spot by defeating the Texans.
Brady threw scoring passes to Keshawn Martin and tight end Rob Gronkowski — an All-Pro who returned after missing a game with a sprained knee and bone bruise — in the first half to help New England build a 17-6 lead.
New England didn't move the ball as well in the second half, but the defense harassed Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer into multiple mistakes. Defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard had strip sacks on Hoyer twice after halftime. The Patriots recovered the second one early in the fourth quarter, and James White made it 27-6 with a 2-yard run three plays later.
Hoyer was sacked five times and left to be evaluated for a concussion with about nine minutes left. The quarterback already missed a game this season after getting a concussion on Nov. 16.