For the second time in as many weeks, the New England Patriots overcame a multiple score halftime deficit on the way to victory. Today, the Patriots trailed 17-7 at halftime, but exploded on offense in the second half en route to a 34-31 victory over the Houston Texans.
The first half was a mess on both sides of the football. On offense, the pass protection was suspect, the running game was ineffective, and quarterback Tom Brady wasn't as sharp as he had been the prior three weeks. Defensively, the Patriots were terrible at all three levels. They couldn't rush the passer, they couldn't tackle, they had break downs in coverage, and they were slow to react.
For the defense, not much would change in the second half.
Fortunately for the Patriots, everything would change for them on offense in the second half.
The offensive turnaround started with quarterback Tom Brady. Brady was simply electric in the second half. Against the best pass defense in football, Brady looked like he was going against a scout defense. And that's really not fair, because Texans defenders weren't exactly out of position - Brady was just not missing his throws. Brady spread the football around, bought himself time in the pocket when necessary, and showed incredible accuracy. Huge games from Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.
The Patriots would score touchdowns on their first three drives of the second half to take the lead. Their final two possessions would stall, but the Patriots were bailed out by an insanely clutch Stephen Gostkowski who nailed two 53 yard field goals to win the game. Gostkowski's first field goal would tie it at 31, and the second would give the Patriots the three point lead.
While the Patriots defense did make the final stops to ice the game, it was easily the unit's worst performance of the season. The Texans aren't as bad of an offense as their scoring output on the season would indicate, but no offense should move the ball as easily against the Patriots as Houston did today. It was more than concerning, and you have to wonder if the defense has reached its tipping point in terms of injuries and being able to sustain a solid unit.