Tom Brady happy to escape Houston

The Patriots quarterback said, “I wish we could start fast and put the foot on the gas pedal the whole way,”after New England narrowly escaped with a 34-31 win over the Texans on Sunday.

Tom Brady threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns against Houston on Sunday. Troy Taormina / USA Today Sports
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He would have been much happier if his New England Patriots didn’t have to overcome another first-half deficit to do it.

Brady threw for 371 yards and two scores, and Stephen Gostkowski made two long field goals in the fourth quarter Sunday as the Patriots rallied for a 34-31 win over Houston.

“I wish we could start fast and put the foot on the gas pedal the whole way,” Brady said.

New England coach Bill Belichick echoed Brady’s feelings.

“It’s not the way we want to play,” he said. “Hopefully, I can find a way to coach better than I’ve done, find a way to get ahead.”

The Texans’ franchise-record skid reached 10 games. Gary Kubiak coached from the sideline for the first time since suffering a mini-stroke on November 3. He missed one game before working the last two games from the booth.

“We’re playing hard, we’re not always playing good,” Kubiak said. “We had a lot of opportunities to make plays ourselves, just didn’t make enough.”

New England overcame a 24-point first-half deficit last week to beat the Broncos 34-31 in overtime. The Patriots (9-3) trailed by 10 at halftime in this one and the lead changed five times in a wild second half. New England tied it with a 53-yard field goal and took a 34-31 lead with another one from 53 with about three minutes left.

“Whatever we’re doing is not good enough, and we can’t keep getting behind because you have to play too well in the second half to overcome,” Brady said.

The Texans (2-10) had a chance late, but the offence stalled. On fourth-and-13, Case Keenum threw an incompletion as he was being hit.

Ben Tate ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns for the Texans, who haven’t won since September 15. It was the first 100-yard rushing game since 2011 for Tate, who has been slowed since October 20 with four broken ribs.

The victory ended a three-game road skid for the Patriots, who have won their last eight December games and 16 of their last 17 in the month. The victory assured them their 13th straight winning record.

“It’s a big plus,” Belichick said. “We have to find a way to win on the road. Fortunately this week we did it. The last three we were in similar situations to this and didn’t do it.”


Broncos 35, Chiefs 28

The Denver Broncos established control of the AFC West by beating the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

With four games left in the regular-season schedule, the Broncos are 10-2 and hold a one-game lead over the 9-3 Chiefs, a team that Denver have beaten twice in the last three weeks.

Quarterback Peyton Manning threw a pair of interceptions in his first nine pass attempts that created a 14-point deficit for the Broncos. But Manning bounced back quickly, making up for those giveaways by throwing five touchdown passes, with four to wide receiver Eric Decker.

49ers 23, Rams 13

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick passed for 275 yards and a touchdown, wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught nine passes for 98 yards, and the San Francisco 49ers continued their play-off push with a victory against the St Louis Rams at Candlestick Park.

The 49ers (8-4) won their second consecutive game, snapped the Rams’ two-game winning streak and beat St Louis (5-7) for the second time this season.

Tight end Vernon Davis caught four passes for 82 yards and a touchdown for San Francisco, while Frank Gore rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Bengals 17, Chargers 10

The Cincinnati Bengals maintained their comfortable lead in the AFC North while distributing a haymaker to the San Diego Chargers’ dwindling play-off chances.

With the win, the Bengals remain two games ahead of the Baltimore Ravens.

The Chargers (5-7) lost for the fourth time in five games, as they continue to slip from the play-off conversation. The Bengals (8-4) took advantage of three Chargers turnovers in winning for the third straight time on the West Coast, a streak which dates to last year.

Falcons 34, Bills 31 (OT)

Matt Bryant kicked a 36-yard field goal with 12 minutes remaining in overtime as the Atlanta Falcons snapped a six-game road losing streak and defeated the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre.

The win improved the Falcons to 3-9. The Bills dropped to 4-8.

The Bills were moving down the field on their first possession of overtime, but tight end Scott Chandler was stripped of the ball by Falcons safety William Moore, and the ball was recovered by Atlanta cornerback Robert Alford and advanced to the Bills 47.

Panthers 27, Buccaneers 6

Quarterback Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes and scored on a rushing play as the Carolina Panthers won their eighth game in a row, shredding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium.

Carolina’s stout defence made it difficult on rookie quarterback Mike Glennon as Tampa Bay’s three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Panthers (9-3) pulled within a half-game in the NFC South of the New Orleans Saints, who play Monday night at Seattle. The Panthers and Saints will meet next week at New Orleans and December 22 in Charlotte.

Eagles 24, Cardinals 21

Quarterback Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes and the Philadelphia Eagles held off the Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field to keep pace with Dallas in the NFC East.

The Eagles (7-5) are tied for first place with the Cowboys, although Dallas hold a tiebreaker since the Cowboys beat the Eagles earlier in the season. The Cardinals (7-5), meanwhile, lost ground in their bid for a wild-card play-off berth as the Eagles intercepted Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer twice and sacked him five times.

Colts 22, Titans 14

Fifth-year running back Donald Brown ran six times for 46 yards and a touchdown on the decisive drive to help the Colts defeat the Tennessee Titans.

Brown had eight carries for eight yards in the game before providing the spark during an 11-play, 92-yard drive that burned 6:12 off the clock. His four-yard touchdown run with 1:56 remaining left the Titans in desperation mode.

Tennessee had a chance to answer in the final minute, but Indianapolis linebacker Jerrell Freeman intercepted Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to end the threat.

Dolphins 23, Jets 3

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for 331 yards and a pair of touchdown passes and the Miami Dolphins manhandled the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Wide receivers Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace caught touchdowns for Miami and kicker Caleb Sturgis booted three field goals as the Dolphins (6-6) moved into a tie for the final AFC wild card spot the Jets held just two weeks ago.

Tannehill finished 28-of-43 with an interception in the fifth 300-yard game of his career. Hartline had nine catches for 127 yards, Wallace had seven catches for 82 yards and tight end Charles Clay added seven receptions for 80 yards for the Dolphins, who outgained the Jets 453-177.

Jaguars, 32, Browns 28

The Jacksonville Jaguars overcame four deficits and quarterback Chad Henne threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cecil Shorts with 40 seconds left to defeat the Cleveland Browns.

A pass from quarterback Brandon Weeden to wide receiver Josh Gordon covering 95 yards with 3:55 left gave the Browns their fourth lead of the day, 28-25, but they could not hold it.

The Jaguars have won three of their last four games and are 3-9. The Browns have lost six of their last seven and are 4-8.

Vikings 23, Bears 20 (overtime)

Blair Walsh’s 34-yard field goal with 1:43 left in overtime gave the Minnesota Vikings the victory over the Chicago Bears at Mall of America Field.

The game-winner came just seven plays after Robbie Gould’s 47-yard field goal attempt went wide-right for the Bears. And it came not long after an apparent game-winner by Walsh was nullified by fullback Rhett Ellison’s facemask penalty.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson kept Minnesota in the game despite turnovers with 35 carries for 211 yards. After Gould’s miss, Peterson ran four times for 30 yards on the game-winning drive.