Patriots 34, Texans 31

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski celebrates his touchdown catch, one of two TDs thrown by Tom Brady in a comeback win.

MCT

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski celebrates his touchdown catch, one of two TDs thrown by Tom Brady in a comeback win.

HOUSTON — Tom Brady was glad to escape Houston with a win. He would have been much happier if his Patriots hadn't had to overcome another first-half deficit to do it.

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 the Texans.

"I wish we could start fast and put the foot on the gas pedal the whole way," Brady said.

Bill Belichick echoed Brady's feelings.

"It's not the way we want to play," New England's coach said. "Hopefully I can find a way to coach better than I've done, find a way to get ahead."

The Texans' franchise-record skid reached 10 games. Gary Kubiak coached from the sideline for the first time since his ministroke Nov. 3. He missed a game before working the previous 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."

Last week New England overcame a 24-point first-half deficit to beat Denver 34-31 in overtime. The Patriots 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 a field goal from 53 yards with 3:12 left.

"Whatever we're doing is not good enough, and we can't keep getting behind, because you have to play too well in the second half to overcome," Brady said.

Houston 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.

The victory ended a three-game road skid for the Patriots, who have won their past eight December games and 16 of their past 17 in the month. The victory assured them of their 13th straight winning record.

"It's a big plus," Belichick said. "We have to find a way to win on the road. Fortunately this week we did it. The last three we were in similar situations to this and didn't do it."

Tight end Rob Gronkowski had six receptions for 127 yards, and Julian Edelman had 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. Belichick evaded questions about why he was inactive.

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

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

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Patriots 34, Texans 31 12/01/13 [Last modified: Sunday, December 1, 2013 9:58pm]

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