Remember back in week 14 when the Patriots hosted the Texans and easily blew them out of the water? Then the Texans proceeded to lose the number one seed, then the first round bye due to losses to the Vikings and the Colts in the final two weeks? That's what set up this rematch at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
Leading up to the game, there were all kinds of questions. Will the Texans be able to put together a better offense? Will their defense make adjustments instead of blitzing at least half the game? Is it possible that the Patriots will score more points with Gronk and Hernandez being on the field at the same time for the first time in a long time? Can Arian Foster manage more than 47 yards rushing this time? Will Tom Brady set the record for most post season wins by a quarterback, passing his idol Joe Montana?
Well, at the end of the game on Sunday, the answers were as follows: yes, no, push, yes and most definitely yes.
The first quarter definitely had its share of bad moments from the start. Danieal Manning ran the opening kick back 94 yards before Devin McCourty managed to run him down and tackle him at the New England 12-yard line. The defense managed to hold the Texans to a field goal on that opening drive. The Patriots went three and out on their first two drives, losing Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski to injuries.
After Woodhead left with a thumb injury, Shane Vereen was sent in to replace him, and what a performance. Vereen combined for 124 total yards on offense and three touchdowns. On the Texans side of the ball, Arian Foster had a much better day than the last game against the Patriots, combining for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
And while the rest of Houston's offense had a better game this time around, finishing with 28 points, Tom Brady led the Patriots offense to score 41 points giving him his record 17th career victory in the postseason.
Gronkowski once again broke his forearm and will miss the rest of the playoffs. Reports are that this break is unrelated to the previous injury that sidelined him for seven games this season.
The Patriots will now host the Baltimore Ravens in a repeat of last year's AFC Championship game for the opportunity to go to their second straight Super Bowl. With a win, they will face either the San Francisco 49ers or the Atlanta Falcons in a battle for the Lombardi Trophy.