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Patriots find a way to pull out another win with big second half

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  December 1, 2013 04:49 PM

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HOUSTON -- At one point in the season, all the way back in Week 7, the Patriots had mustered only nine points in the third quarter.

Their second half woes had led to losses against the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals. The offense was in disarray, missing at least one of its core players for the first 10 weeks of the season.

Now, with Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen back, everything is clicking. Against the Houston Texans on Sunday, the Patriots outscored their opponents 27-14 in the second half and 14-7 in the third quarter to take the victory, 34-31.

Vereen, who caught five passes for 37 yards and a touchdown and ran for 38 more yards, wouldn't say he was a critical component to the game, despite his nine-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter that kept the Patriots within one possession of a go-ahead score.

"I wouldn't say that. But I would say that when it does come down to the those kind of games we feel comfortable," Vereen said. "And it's something that we've done so many times, so when it comes down to game time we're ready to go.

"We have 100 percent confidence in this offense and the team and my teammates. Sometimes we falter, but we always know that once we start executing, we're pretty good."

On his touchdown reception, it was a route that Vereen had run multiple times before, even in the game.

"I don't know, I was just wide open," he said. "I was kind of surprised. But you know it happens sometimes on defense. They get a little confused. But luckily on the play we were able to execute."

Now that the Patriots have been able to execute in the second half, they may want to work on their first half starts. The Patriots were down 10-0 in the first quarter and went into the half down 17-7, the team's second slow start in as many weeks. Last week, they fell behind to the Denver Broncos 24-0 before storming back for a 34-31 overtime win. For Vereen, there's no readily available answer for the problem.

"I wish I knew the answer to that," Vereen said. "Because then we should be doing that in the first half. Can't say it, but in the last two games in the second half we've kinda calmed down and focused on what we have to do."

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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