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                === Brady throws 4 TDs as Pats pound Texans ===
 Foxboro,  MA  (Sports Network)  - Having  already wrapped up  the AFC East the
 previous  week,  a big win on  Monday has the  Patriots' sights set on the top
 spot in the conference.
 Thanks  to four touchdown  passes from Tom Brady, New England took a 42-14 win
 over the Houston Texans on Monday night.
 New  England (10-3), which  is now 21-0 in the second half of the season since
 2010, has ripped off seven straight wins and is now just a game behind Houston
 (11-2) for the coveted top spot in the AFC.
 Brady  was 21-for-35 with 296 yards while Aaron Hernandez posted eight catches
 for 58 yards and two scores. Brandon Lloyd caught a score and also recovered a
 fumble  in the end zone for a score while Donte Stallworth, who re-signed with
 the team last Monday, had the other touchdown reception.
 "It was great out there tonight to take a win like this against a tough team,"
 said  Brady.  "We were able  to use  the run to  create some distance with the
 defense and that really opened things up for us."
 Stevan  Ridley carried the ball 18 times for 72 yards and his touchdown in the
 fourth  quarter put  the emphasis on the  rout as New England eclipsed the 40-
 point  mark  for the fifth  time this season, including  the third time in the
 past four weeks.
 "We  got  good  contributions  from everybody  tonight,"  said  Patriots  head
 coach  Bill Belichick, who moved past Dan Reeves for seventh place all-time in
 wins with the 202nd of his coaching career. "We made some key third downs, got
 some  pressure  on their quarterback  and had guys step  up in all three areas
 of the game. We got good play from everybody tonight."
 Houston,  meanwhile, saw  a six-game winning streak snapped and while the team
 has already locked up a playoff spot, it is still fighting for the top spot in
 the AFC South.
 Sitting  two games ahead of Indianapolis, the Texans will welcome the Colts to
 Houston   next   Sunday.  After  hosting   Minnesota,  Houston  will  play  in
 Indianapolis for the final game of the regular season.
 Matt  Schaub was just 19-for-32 with 232 yards and an interception while Arian
 Foster  had 15  carries for 46 yards  and a score in the loss, Houston's first
 road loss of the season.
 After  forcing  a punt from  Houston on its  opening possession, Brady and the
 Patriots went to work.
 Three  straight runs  from Ridley moved the  ball 22 yards, but a pass on 3rd-
 and-6  fell incomplete. Fortunately for the Patriots, a defensive holding call
 gave  the team  a first  down. The  next  play saw  Brady and  Wes Welker  get
 together  for  25 yards  down to the  Houston 4-yard line.  Two plays later, a
 short pass out to the left was caught by Hernandez and taken in for a 7-0 lead
 with 9:27 left in the opening quarter.
 Schaub  drove his  team down the field  on the Texans' following touch and got
 the ball to the New England 21, but he was picked off in the end zone by Devin
 McCourty, who took the ball back to his 18-yard line.
 Brady completed passes of 14, 18, and 13 yards to get it to the Houston 37. On
 a  play action fake, Brady went deep and found Lloyd wide open in stride for a
 14-0 lead with 2:49 to play in the first.
 Houston  again had  a short  possession and  punted on  the last  play of  the
 quarter, giving New England the ball back at its own 30.
 After converting a third down, the team faced another 3rd-and-10 and while the
 pass  was  incomplete, Houston was whistled  for a pass interference call that
 gave  the Patriots 26 yards. Catches of 15 and 12 yards by Welker got the ball
 down  to the 4-yard  line and Hernandez took it from there as he was uncovered
 at  the  left side for the  easy score and a  21-0 lead with 11:01 left in the
 Houston  then went three-and-out, but finally stopped Brady and quickly forced
 a punt, getting the ball back at its own 11.
 A 25-yard catch by Andre Johnson on the first play gave the team some room and
 they  wound up getting down to the New England 33. Facing a 4th-and-5, though,
 the  team went for it and Kevin Walter dropped a pass to give the Patriots the
 ball back.
 Each  team then had  two more touches, but were unable to score before the end
 of the half.
 "We  didn't make  any plays offensively to  get us back in the football game,"
 Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. "We got beat pretty darn good."
 The  second half started  with each team punting once, but Brady used the long
 ball  to  extend the Patriots' lead  on their second possession. Facing a 3rd-
 and-10 at his own 37, Brady went deep down the middle for Stallworth, who made
 the  catch near the 30  and was just able to get over the goal line for a 28-0
 lead with 9:49 to play in the third.
 Houston  finally  put together a  scoring drive on its  next touch as a seven-
 play,  88-yard  march was  capped on  a 1-yard  run inside  the left tackle by
 Foster with 6:12 to play.
 New  England, though, put  the game away early in the fourth quarter. With the
 ball  at the Houston  27, Brady got a short pass to Danny Woodhead, who made a
 couple  of moves  to get the ball down  to the 11 but then had it punched out.
 The  ball  went right into the  end zone and Lloyd  fell on it for a 35-7 lead
 just under a minute into the fourth.
 Ridley's 14-yard touchdown run on New England's next possession made it a 42-7
 game,  while T.J.  Yates scored from a  yard out for Houston at the two-minute
 warning to cap the scoring.
                                   Game Notes
 It's  the 10th  straight season the Patriots  have posted at least 10 wins ...
 Welker  has a reception  in 107 consecutive games. He had three catches for 52
 yards  in the game  ... It was the 18th game Brady had four touchdown  passes.
 He  passed Johnny Unitas for fourth place all-time. Also, it was his 14th time
 having four TD passes and no interceptions in a game as he leads that category
 ...  Before  the game, the Patriots  activated running back Brandon Bolden. He
 had  been  suspended for four  games back in  early November for violating the
 NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances ... New England has won three
 of  the  four games against  Houston ... New  England hosts San Francisco next
 Sunday ... Johnson posted eight catches for 95 yards ... Brady has 45 straight
 games  with  a touchdown pass,  third longest  all-time and the longest active
 12/11 01:25:51 ET