FOXBOROUGH -- On the biggest stage possible for the Patriots this season, Tom Brady led his team to a resounding 42-14 win over the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium.
Brady was 21 of 35 for 296 yards and four touchdowns, including two scoring strikes to Aaron Hernandez.
The Patriots held the Texans to 100 yards rushing and Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster to 46 as the defense proved to be a difference maker in the game. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork accounted for four tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss, a pass defensed, and a fumble forced. Devin McCourty had an early interception to help stunt the Texans' offense as the Patriots jumped to a 21-0.
New Patriots Donte' Stallworth caught a 63-yard touchdown and Brandon Lloyd scored twice, catching a 37-yard TD pass and recovering a Danny Woodhead fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
Running back Stevan Ridley rushed 18 times for 72 yards and a score.
The Patriots move on to 10-3 and drop the Texans to 11-2.
2:00 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Texans 7 -- Texans backup quarterback T.J. Yates took advantage of the turnover by the Patriots and punched in a 1-yard TD on a quarterback sneak.
3:10 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Texans 7 -- Ryan Mallett threw an interception on his first pass, a ball that was tipped into the air and caught by the Texans' Shiloh Keo. Mallett had taken over for Tom Brady as the game was out of reach. Brandon Bolden also made an appearance, carrying the ball three times on the short drive.
5:10 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Texans 7 -- Another four-play drive by the Texans as the Patriots hold Houston to their seventh punt of the game.
7:23 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Texans 7 -- Stevan Ridley broke off a 14-yard touchdown run to cap a 10-play, 68-yard drive that was relatively slow for the Patriots tonight. The drive took 4:24, with the Patriots favoring eight running plays.
11:52 4th quarter: Patriots 35, Texans 7 -- The Texans ran four times in a row, with the Patriots holding them on 3rd-and-1 to force a punt as Houston's ability to come back and make this game competitive was severely diminished.
14:15 4th quarter: Patriots 35, Texans 7 -- A nifty catch and run by Danny Woodhead, turned into a miraculous touchdown for Brandon Lloyd. Woodhead had the ball punched out by J.J. Watt as he was running toward the end zone and Lloyd dove on it for a touchdown as the ball bounced forward. It was a 16-yard catch before it was a fumble forced by Watt and a fumble recovery by Lloyd.
End of 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 7 -- A six-yard run by Tom Brady ends the third quarter with him all pumped up. A short "M-V-P" chant rang out afterward. The Patriots are at the Texans' 27 to start the fourth.
3:35 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 7 -- Kyle Arrington broke up a pass to Keshawn Martin as the Patriots held the Texans to a three-and-out.
5:18 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 7 -- Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus sacked Tom Brady for a 5-yard loss on third down. It's the first sack the Patriots have given up today. The Patriots punted after only three plays.
6:12 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 7 -- Helped by a pass interference on Kyle Arrington, the Texans finally got on the board after a 7-play, 88-yard drive in 3:37. Arian Foster punched in a touchdown at the goal line.
Matt Schaub hit a critical pass to fullback James Casey for 30 yards to get the Texans into the red zone.
9:49 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 0 -- Tom Brady threw a bomb to Donte' Stallworth and the new (and old) Patriot took it 63 yards for a touchdown.
Stallworth made a play and then dragged Houston's Quintin Demps the final five yards into the end zone. Talk about making an impact in your first game back with the team after being cut in training camp.
Also of note, Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib has a hip injury. His return to the game is questionable.
11:03 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The Patriots held the Texans to a three-and-out. Matt Schaub hit Andre Johnson for an 8-yard completion on third down, a yard shy of the first down marker. The Patriots stuffed Arian Foster on second down for a 2-yard loss. Brandon Deaderick was credited with the tackle for the loss.
13:13 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- Donte' Stallworth may not be on the same page as Tom Brady yet, despite their history with each other. Brady and Stallworth couldn't connect on a 3rd-and-8 pass as the Patriots were forced to punt for the fourth possession in a row.
15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The second half is about to get underway with the Patriots receiving the ball. We'll see if things get more competitive after those first two quarters.
End of 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- Vince Wilfork has dominated for the Patriots, tallying a sack for 20 yards, a forced fumble, a tackle for a loss, and a pass defensed. He certainly has set the tone for the Patriots.
Along with Devin McCourty, the defense has held up well against the Texans. Houston has gone 2 of 8 on third downs and is 0 for 2 on fourth down attempts.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady is 13 of 19 at half for 165 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Aaron Hernandez twice and Brandon Lloyd for another.
Cornerback Aqib Talib took a bit of a spill, breaking up a pass to Andre Johnson. There's no word on him yet. He appeared to be favoring his left side.
0:41 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The Patriots went three-and-out on their drive. Tom Brady went deep to Aaron Hernandez on third down but the play was broken up by Glover Quinn.
1:52 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- Jerod Mayo went untouched to lay a hit on Matt Schaub and force a turnover on downs after another Houston fourth down attempt.
3:33 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- J.J. Watt made himself big, interfering with a Tom Brady pass on 3rd-and-16, to cause an incompletion.
The Texans have now strung together a couple of defensive stops on the Patriots.
4:44 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- On a fourth down, Kevin Walter couldn't hold on to a Matt Schaub pass as the Texans turned the ball over on downs.
Kyle Arrington was credited with a pass defensed.
8:38 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The Texans defense got its first stop on the Patriots. Some pressure on Tom Brady on third down forced the punt.
9:51 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The Patriots held the Texans to a three-and-out, with Vince Wilfork batting down a Matt Schaub pass on third down intended for Kevin Walter.
Wilfork might have been mad about all the hype about J.J. Watt. He's already got a sack, forced fumble, pass defensed, and tackle for loss.
11:01 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The Patriots are now sticking it to the Texans, who aren't helping themselves. Danieal Manning was flagged for a pass interference on Wes Welker three plays before failing to get in Aaron Hernandez's face, allowing Tom Brady to throw a quick 4-yard touchdown pass as the Patriots took a three-touchdown lead.
Welker had two catches on the drive.
End of 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Texans 0 -- The first quarter comes to a close with the Texans almost coughing up the ball again. Matt Schaub, scrambling to evade pressure, had the ball knocked from his hand as he was escaping the pocket. The Texans recovered and were forced to punt on a 4th-and-32.
Vince Wilfork was credited with a 20-yard sack and a forced fumble. He's having a great game.
The Patriots will get the ball to start the second quarter at their 30.
2:49 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Texans 0 -- Giving a little bit of Houston medicine, the Patriots utilized a play-action stretch pass to Brandon Lloyd for a 37-yard touchdown, capitalizing on Devin McCourty's interception.
It was a quick, 6-play, 82-yard drive over 2:41.
The play-action touchdown followed another impressive play-action pass from Brady to Aaron Hernandez. Brady is 6 of 8 for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
5:30 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Texans 0 -- Devin McCourty picked off Texans QB Matt Schaub on a throw to Kevin Walter, killing a Texans drive that had gone 79 yards.
Patriots take over at their own 18-yard line.
9:27 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Texans 0 -- The Patriots are going to prove that mistakes and lost opportunities will kill the Texans. Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for 7-yard touchdown pass a play after Stevan Ridley coughed up the ball. The Texans had a chance to recover, but Hernandez hit the turf and got to it first.
The Texans' Quintin Demps was also flagged for holding on the drive, extending the Patriots' lifeline on a 3rd-and-6.
12:39 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Texans 0 -- After giving up a 16-yard run to Arian Foster, the Patriots hold the Texans to only three more. Vince Wilfork tripped Foster up in the backfield for a loss of 2 and Texans QB Matt Schaub couldn't connect with receiver Lestar Jean on a deep pass as the Patriots took over.
Wes Welker had a nice punt return in Julian Edelman's place.
On defense, the Patriots favored Trevor Scott over Chandler Jones and Brandon Deaderick over Kyle Love. We'll see if that holds.
15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Texans 0 -- Patriots win the coin toss and defer. The Texans will receive to start the game. According to Dan Shaughnessy, the game is already over.
Pregame: The game is about to get underway here at Gillette Stadium. Despite the rain earlier today, it's a great crowd here with a playoff vibe hanging heavy in the air.
It's 59 degrees here in Foxborough, with winds traveling at 7 miles per hour southwest. It will be a warm New England evening for December, with a 10 to 15 percent chance to rain again before midnight.
I'll have all the updates for the game right here. Stick around and share your comments and thoughts. Enjoy the game.