NFL: Texans beat Patriots 34-27 to stay alive
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON — The Houston Texans did their part. Now they wait.
Rookie Arian Foster scored two touchdowns and Bernard Pollard recovered a fumble for a touchdown and had a key interception as the Texans rallied to beat the New England Patriots 34-27 on Sunday.
The victory gives Houston (9-7) its first winning record and keeps its slim playoff hopes alive. The Texans are primarily competing with Denver, Baltimore and the New York Jets for a wild-card spot.
They need two of those teams to lose to make the first postseason appearance in the eight-year history of the franchise.
The Texans trailed by 14 points in the fourth quarter before ending the game with three unanswered touchdowns. Foster scored the go-ahead TD on a 3-yard run with about two minutes remaining.
That score was set up by Pollard's interception and 15-yard return four plays earlier. Tom Brady was hit by Mario Williams as he released the ball.
Brady played most of the game despite New England (10-6) having already clinched its playoff spot. He sat out two possessions in the second quarter and on the Patriots' last drive.
Five starters, including leading rusher Laurence Maroney, were inactive for the AFC East champion Patriots, but Randy Moss and Wes Welker started with Brady.
Coach Bill Belichick's decision to play many of his starters will likely be second-guessed after leading receiver Welker was carted off the field with a left knee injury in the first quarter.
Welker was injured when his left leg buckled as he turned to go upfield after a 12-yard reception on New England's first possession. He remained on the turf for a couple of minutes before hobbling to the sideline with help from Patriots officials and was soon taken to the locker room on a cart.
The Texans defense held on New England's last possession with rookie Brian Hoyer at quarterback.
Houston tied the game on a 1-yard run by Foster with about five minutes remaining. The Texans got the ball back after Williams sacked Brady on third-and-4.
Brady was 17 of 26 for 186 yards and Moss had 75 yards receiving.
Matt Schaub threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns and Foster had 119 yards rushing.
Houston got within 27-20 on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Schaub to Jacoby Jones with about 10 minutes remaining. That drive was helped by a 26-yard pass interference penalty on rookie Darius Butler that got Houston down to the 3. The Texans were pushed back on a false start penalty before the score.
The score was tied 13-13 at halftime before New England scored twice to open up the 14-point lead. Houston had a second down at the Patriots 15-yard line when Butler intercepted a pass by Schaub and returned it 91 yards for a touchdown to put New England up 20-13 in the third quarter.
The Patriots took a 27-13 lead on a Brady-led drive that ended in Fred Taylor's second touchdown of the day, this one an 11-yard run.