Tom Brady used the no-huddle offense to great effect, keeping the Texans defense were on their heels all day. He found Shane Vereen early and often, hooking up for an 8-yard pass in the second quarter to give New England a 17-3 point lead. Houston made a brief comeback, using an Arian Foster score and Shayne Graham field goal to get within four points at halftime.
Things quickly unraveled for Houston after that. The Patriots marched down the field on the very first possession in the third quarter, capped off with a Stevan Ridley touchdown to give them a 24-13 lead. A Matt Schaub interception late in the third quarter killed any hope the Texans had at a rally, as Brady turned on the floodgates and heaved a 33-yard pass to Vereen for his third touchdown of the game. At 38-13, the rout was on.
The Texans eventually closed the gap to 10 points, but the game was essentially garbage time for most of the fourth quarter. A late Stephen Gostowski field goal was the final score.
Box Score Hero: Shane Vereen stepped right into Danny Woodhead's shoes after he left with a thumb injury. Vereen finished with three touchdowns and 124 yards from scrimmage on 12 touches.
Wes Welker was once again Brady's top target, with eight catches for 131 yards.
Injury Report: Rob Gronkowski left in the first quarter after aggravating his forearm injury. Pro Football Talk is reporting that he re-broke his arm and is done for the playoffs.
Danny Woodhead left with the aforementioned thumb injury. His status is unknown.
Did They Cover: Quite easily. The Patriots were 9.5 favorites.
What's Next: New England will host the Baltimore Ravens in a rematch of last year's AFC Conference Championship game.