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Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - Page updated at 10:30 p.m.
New England routs visiting Houston 42-14 | NFL
By The Associated Press
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Look out. That familiar sight is the New England Patriots romping through December, looking like a Super Bowl team.
The Patriots rolled over Houston 42-14 Monday night, stamping themselves once again as the team to fear in the AFC — and making the Texans look like pretenders.
Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns and 296 yards as New England manhandled the team that entered with the NFL's best record. The Patriots (10-3), who already own the AFC East title, won their seventh straight and moved one game behind the Texans (11-2) for the conference's top seed.
"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. New England surpassed its average of 35.8 points per game.
"These guys feel really good about the way they played tonight and they should," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
Wes Welker's 31-yard punt return and 25-yard reception — the 107th straight game he has made a catch — led to Aaron Hernandez's 7-yard score with 9:27 left in the first quarter. That gave Brady 45 consecutive games with a TD pass, the third-longest streak in league 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. Devin McCourty picked it off and returned it 19 yards, setting up more pinpoint throws by Brady, who finished 21 of 35.
"We can't predict the score but we know we can dominate games," McCourty said.
Brady seemingly couldn't miss if he tried, his receivers were so uncovered: Brandon Lloyd for 14 yards, Danny Woodhead for 18, Hernandez for 13, then Lloyd for the 37-yard TD to make the score 14-0.
Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips could only shake his head in disgust at his players' inability to challenge the Patriots.
It got worse for Houston.
At the end of a 70-yard drive helped by a 26-yard interference call on Danieal Manning, no Texans were lined up to Brady's left in front of Hernandez. A quick snap, a quicker pass and the tight end waltzed into the end zone for a 21-0 lead before the game was 19 minutes old.
New England was headed for its 20th successive home victory in December.
"We got our tails kicked," Houston 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."
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