FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Tom Brady can’t stop smiling these days.
Five days after becoming a father for a third time – something that brings the biggest grin of all to his face – Brady threw four touchdown passes, leading the Patriots to a 42-14 rout of the Houston Texans.
If the game was a measuring stick in the AFC, New England and its star quarterback aced the test with a seventh consecutive victory. Houston failed it.
“It’s a Monday night game,” Brady said. “We have played in a lot of big games in December.”
A matchup of the top two scoring teams in the league was a mismatch from the outset. It took New England (10-3) only one possession to start its scoring barrage as the Patriots surpassed their average of 35.8 points per game.
“It needs to come together now; this is the perfect time for it,” said Brady, whose his wife, Gisele, gave birth to Vivian Lake last Wednesday.
“She is doing very well,” Brady said. “It’s been a great week.”
So look out. That familiar sight is the Patriots, who already own the AFC East title, romping through December, looking like a Super Bowl team.
“We can’t predict the score but we know we can dominate games,” said Devin McCourty, who had a first-quarter interception.
They often dominate late in the season; this was their 21st straight victory in the second half of the schedule, and 20th straight at home in December.
“It is always good to play in Foxborough in December,” linebacker Jerod Mayo said. “When you go out and perform the way you do, I think Foxborough is going to be a tough place for anyone to come and play.”
The Texans (11-2) discovered that quickly, and now they need to look back at the Patriots gaining on them in the conference standings.
“We got our tails kicked,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “When you’ve got an opportunity to make a big play, you can’t miss it against a team of this magnitude. We turned around and it was 21-0 pretty quick.”
Wes Welker’s 31-yard punt return and 25-yard reception – the 107th straight game he’s had a catch – led to Aaron Hernandez’s 7-yard score to start the onslaught. That gave Brady 45 consecutive games with a TD pass, third longest in NFL history.
It also set the tone.
Houston, which had won six straight, threatened on its next series, only to have Matt Schaub force a ball into double coverage in the Patriots’ end zone. McCourty picked it off and returned it 19 yards, setting up more pinpoint throws by Brady, who finished 21 of 35.
“We’ve got to look in the mirror at what we did tonight,” Kubiak said.
“These guys feel really good about the way they played tonight and they should,” coach Bill Belichick said.
Houston was headed back home wondering not only how it could measure up to a perennial championship contender in the future, but if it could hold off surging Indianapolis in the AFC South. The Texans have a two-game lead but face the Colts (9-4) on Sunday in Houston, then in the season finale at Indianapolis.