PLAYOFF SCENARIOThe Patriots (10-4) lead the second-place New York Jets (8-6) by two games in the AFC East standings with two games to play. The Patriots would win the 2006 AFC East title with one win or tie in their last two games (at JAX, at TEN) or one New York loss or tie in its last two games (at MIA, vs. OAK).
TEN WINS FOR THE SEASON
The Patriots won their 10th game of the season today, marking their fourth straight season with a double-digit win total. New England has won 10 or more games in five of the last six seasons and in eight of the 13 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. Since 2001, New England is the only team in the NFL to have won nine or more regular-season games in each season.
FORTY POINTS SCORED
The Patriots scored 40 points today, marking their highest point total since a 41-27 victory in the 2004 AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh on Jan. 23, 2005. In regular-season play, the last time New England scored 40 or more points was on Dec. 5, 2004, when they beat the Cleveland Browns on the road, 42-15. New England had scored 40 points at Gillette Stadium just once before today, putting up 41 points in a 41-38 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 22, 2002. Today's output of 40 points marks the second highest total for the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots' 33-point margin of victory in today's 40-7 win is their largest at Gillette Stadium since the facility opened in 2002. Previously, the largest favorable point differential at Gillette Stadium was in a 31-0 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 27, 2003. Today's win was the 16th in Patriots history by 33 or more points and was the second such victory this season following a 35-0 win at Green Bay on Nov. 19, 2006.
FAULK IN THE ZONE
Kevin Faulk scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns, recording the second multiple-touchdown game of his eight-year career. His first score of the day came on an 11-yard touchdown run with 6:54 elapsed in the game. Prior to today, Faulk's last rushing touchdown came on Dec. 12, 2004 against Cincinnati, when he scored on a 4-yard scamper in New England's 35-28 AFC East-clinching victory over the Bengals. Like today, the Patriots wore silver jerseys in that game. Faulk scored his second receiving touchdown of the season on a 43-yard screen pass in the first quarter that gave New England a 17-0 lead. The 43-yard reception was the second longest of Faulk's career, trailing only a 52-yard touchdown catch on Dec. 24, 2000 against Miami at Foxboro Stadium. The play was also the third longest completion of the season for New England and was the second longest scoring reception of the year for the Patriots. Following today's two touchdowns, Faulk has scored 23 career touchdowns - 11 rushing, nine receiving and two via kickoff returns. Faulk's 23 career touchdowns rank 18th on the Patriots' all-time list and he ranks third among active Patriots, trailing only Corey Dillon (36) and Troy Brown (33).
HOBBS KICKOFF RETURNEllis Hobbs returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to give the Patriots a 34-7 lead. The kickoff return for a touchdown was the first for the Patriots since Dec. 5, 2004, when Bethel Johnson returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in a 42-15 road win over the Cleveland Browns. Hobbs' 93-yard touchdown came on just his second kickoff return of the season, with his other return a 51-yarder against Miami on Dec. 10. As a rookie last season, Hobbs recorded 15 kickoff returns for 361 yards, with a long return of 37 yards. Hobbs' kickoff return for a touchdown was the first for the Patriots at Gillette Stadium since Dec. 22, 2002, when Kevin Faulk returned one 87 yards for a touchdown against the New York Jets.
Asante Samuel intercepted a David Carr pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 33 yards to the Houston 5-yard line, setting up a field goal that gave the Patriots a 40-7 lead. The interception was the eighth of the season for Samuel, a total that stands as his career high and as the highest single-season interception total for a Patriots player since Ty Law recorded nine picks in 1998. With two games still to play, Samuel's eight interceptions are tied for the third highest single-season total in Patriots history, trailing only Ron Hall's team-record 11 interception in 1964 and Law's 1998 total of nine. Samuel's 2006 total marks the fourth time in team history a Patriot has recorded eight interceptions, joining the totals of Ronnie Lippett (1986), Mike Haynes (1976) and Bob Suci (1963). Samuel has recorded 14 career interceptions, a total that ranks 20th on the team's all-time career list. His seven interceptions entering today's game were tied for the NFL lead.
Stephen Gostkowski nailed all four of his field goal attempts, connecting from 36 yards in the first quarter, from 32 yards in the second quarter, from 31 yards in the fourth quarter and 21 yards in the fourth quarter. His four field goals in the game mark a career high and he is the first Patriot to kick at least four successful field goals in a game since Nov. 14, 2004, when Adam Vinatieri nailed five against the Buffalo Bills. Following today's kicks, Gostkowski has connected on nine straight field goals and has hit 14 of his last 15 field goals (93.3 percent). He is 16-of-20 (80.0 percent) on the season.
Ellis Hobbs grabbed his second interception of the season and recorded the fifth pick of his career when he caught a David Carr pass intended for Andre Johnson and returned it nine yards in the third quarter. The interception set up a 31-yard field goal that gave the Patriots a 37-7 lead. Hobbs' other interception this season came in the fourth quarter at Minnesota on Oct. 30, when he picked off a Brad Johnson pass near the goal line and returned the pick 70 yards.
After allowing seven points to the Texans today, Patriots opponents are averaging just 13.79 points per game (193 points in 14 games). With two games still to play, the Patriots are in position to challenge the single-season record that was established in 2003 when New England allowed 14.88 points per game (238 points in 16 games).
Tom Brady completed 16-of-23 passes (69.6 percent) for 109 yards, two touchdowns and a 108.8 passer rating. Today's game was the fourth game this season in which Brady posted a passer rating of 100.0 or higher, and the Patriots are 4-0 in those games. Brady improved his career record to 36-1 when posting a passer rating of 100.0 or higher.
Tom Brady improved his career record as a starter to...
- 78-25 overall
- 42-10 at home
- 22-1 on artificial surfaces
- 36-1 when posting a passer rating of 100.0 or higher
- 19-4 in the month of December
- 36-7 in games played on Thanksgiving or later
- 59-2 when leading at halftime
The Patriots scored 27 points in the first half today, marking their highest first-half point total since scoring 28 points in the first half of a 35-28 victory over Cincinnati on Dec. 12, 2004. Coincidentally, in that game, like today, the Patriots wore their silver jerseys.
The Patriots wore their silver jerseys today, marking the fifth time that the team has worn them. New England has compiled a 4-1 record wearing silver since the jerseys were introduced in 2003. Below is a recap of New England's record when wearing silver.
GAMES WEARING SILVER JERSEYS (all at Gillette Stadium)
Date Opponent W/L Score 11/16/03 Dallas W 12-0 12/07/03* Miami W 12-0 12/12/04* Cincinnati W 35-28 10/02/05 San Diego L 17-41 12/17/06 Houston W 40-7 *-New England clinched AFC East title with win
Jabar Gaffney scored his first touchdown of the season and the eighth touchdown of his career on a 6-yard pass from Tom Brady in the second quarter, giving the Patriots a 27-0 lead. Gaffney, who played for the Texans from 2002-05, last scored a touchdown while playing for Houston at Indianapolis on Nov. 13, 2005. Gaffney is the 10th different player to catch a touchdown pass for the Patriots this season. Brady tied an NFL record last season by distributing his touchdown passes to 12 different players.
INTERCEPTION FOR BIG SEY
Richard Seymour recorded his second career interception when he tipped a David Carr pass into the air near the line of scrimmage and hauled the ball in to give the Patriots possession at the Texans' 24-yard line. The only other interception of Seymour's six-year career came on Dec. 8, 2002, against Buffalo when he grabbed a Drew Bledsoe pass that had been tipped by Anthony Pleasant. Seymour's interception against Houston set up a 36-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski that gave the Patriots a 10-0 first-quarter lead.
James Sanders intercepted a David Carr pass in the first quarter, grabbing a ball that had been tipped by Tedy Bruschi. Sanders' interception set up Kevin Faulk's 43-yard touchdown reception two plays later that gave New England a 17-0 first-quarter lead. The interception was Sanders' first of the season and the second of his career. As a rookie last season, he intercepted one pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown at Buffalo on Dec. 11, 2005. Like today, Sanders' interception last season came on a pass that had been tipped by Bruschi.
Corey Mays and Heath Evans sniffed out a fake punt by Houston in the first quarter, combining to tackle the Texans' Jason Simmons for no gain on a rushing attempt, giving New England possession of the ball at Houston's 42-yard line. The play set up a 7-play, 42-yard drive that ended in Kevin Faulk's 11-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 Patriots lead.
New England jumped out to a quick lead by scoring 17 first-quarter points. The 17 points tied New England's highest single-quarter total of the season, equaling the 17 points scored in the fourth quarter against Cincinnati in a 38-13 win on Oct. 1. The last time the Patriots had scored 17 points in the first quarter of a game was on Dec. 8, 2002, in a 27-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.
SACK ATTACKThe Patriots sacked Houston's David Carr four times today. Rosevelt Colvin began the hit parade with a nine-yard sack on third-and-five in the first quarter, forcing a Houston punt on the next play. Tully Banta-Cain recorded his first of two first-half sacks on third-and-six in the second quarter, forcing a Carr fumble which was recovered by Houston. Mike Wright dropped Carr for a 13-yard loss on first-down that backed Houston up to its own 7-yard line, setting the stage for a three-and-out for the New England defense. Banta-Cain recorded his second sack of the half for an eight-yard loss on second down in the second quarter as part of another three-and-out for the New England defense.
TWO SACKS FOR BANTA-CAIN
Tully Banta-Cain recorded two first-half sacks, notching his second multiple-sack game of the season and the third game of his career with more than one sack. Following the two sacks, he had totaled 5.5 sacks on the season, a mark that bests his previous career high of 1.5 sacks in 2004. Banta-Cain recorded a career-high 2.5 sacks at Minnesota on Oct. 30, 2006.
The Patriots shut out the Texans in the first half, recording their fourth first-half shutout of the season. Today's first half was the seventh half of football this season in which the Patriots have not allowed any points.
- Rookie Le Kevin Smith made his NFL debut today, seeing reserve action at nose tackle late in the game.
- Rookie Stephen Gostkowski was 4-for-4 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra points, marking the first time a Patriots kicker had made eight combined kicks in a game since Adam Vinatieri hit all four field goals and all four extra points at St. Louis on Nov. 7, 2004.