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2017 NFL Playoffs: Patriots play horrible first half, lead Texans 17-13

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It wasn’t pretty, but the Patriots have a halftime lead.

The New England Patriots played a terrible first half of football and take a 17-13 score into halftime.

The Patriots won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball in the second half. The Texans went three-and-out and punted the ball to the Patriots. The New England offense decided to be cute on their opening drive and ran an unnecessary hurry-up tempo, only to go three-and-out to give the ball back to the Texans.

Houston went three-and-out, again, and gave the Patriots the ball at the 35-yard line. WR Chris Hogan drew a 30-yard defensive pass interference penalty, before QB Tom Brady found Hogan again for a 22-yard gain. Brady dumped the ball off to RB Dion Lewis who scampered 13 yards around the edge and into the end zone for 7-0 lead.

The Texans received the next kick off and it appeared like the Patriots forced another three-and-out, but an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty against CB Eric Rowe after a third down stop gave the Texans drive new life. The Texans drove down the field on a 14-play, 8:12 drive and kicked a field goal to narrow the score to 7-3.

Rowe’s penalty should effectively count as the Patriots first turnover of the day, and there were more to come.

The Texans kicked the ball of to Lewis, who returned it 98-yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead. The Patriots kicked the ball back to Houston; QB Brock Osweiler promptly led another three-and-out and the Texans punted back to the Patriots.

The Patriots should’ve been able to run away with the game, but Brady threw a ball too far ahead of WR Michael Floyd, who tipped it directly into the hands of Texans CB A.J. Bouye.

The Texans started this drive on the 27-yard line, but the Patriots defense held and forced another field goal. Houston trailed 14-6. Lewis fumbled the next kick off and the Texans got the ball on the 12-yard line and scored a touchdown two plays later, narrowing the Patriots lead to 14-13.

The two teams exchanged three-and-outs again; through this point, the Patriots offense had run a mere 9 plays to the Texans to 34 by the Texans. The Texans led time of possession 16:57 to 5:15. New England needed a drive to give the defense some rest.

Brady locked on to Dion Lewis for two incomplete passes, before finding Hogan for another monster 45-yard gain and shifting the field into Texans territory. The Patriots were unable to convert the drive into points after an athletic sack by Texans LB Whitney Mercilus, but a Ryan Allen punt pinned Houston on the 4-yard line and gave the New England defense a breather.

The Patriots defense found its mojo and forced a three-and-out, capped off with a pass defense by ED Rob Ninkovich. A bad penalty against Matthew Slater on the punt set the Patriots back 20 yards, but Brady found WR Julian Edelman on a 48-yard deep pass to move into the red zone. Edelman got away with a push off, but the officials allowed the play to stand and Edelman is now the Patriots franchise leader in postseason receptions.

The Patriots moved down to the goal line, but the Texans defense stopped a Brady scramble, a pass to FB James Develin, and then a dive by RB LeGarrette Blount to force a Patriots field goal. The Patriots lead 17-13.

WR Chris Hogan collected all three of his targets for 74 yards, in addition to drawing a crucial 30-yard defensive pass interference penalty. WR Julian Edelman brought in both of his targets for 54 yards. The Patriots rushing attack has been nonexistent.

The Patriots defense has played very well with five three-and-outs on eight Texans offensive drives. The Texans scored on the other three drives thanks to a dumb play by Eric Rowe, an interception, and a fumble.

The Patriots get the ball after the half.