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    Tom Brady bails out defense

    Tom Brady took to the air in the first quarter.
    Jessica Rinaldi for The Boston Globe
    Tom Brady took to the air in the first quarter.

    HOUSTON – The Patriots’ defense was awful on Sunday, allowing the lowly Texans and their undrafted rookie quarterback to run up and down the field. The Patriots couldn’t tackle, they couldn’t cover and they couldn’t rush the passer.

    So quarterback Tom Brady did what he does best, stepping out of the phone booth to save the day for the Patriots once again in their 34-31, come-from-behind victory.

    Brady didn’t do it by himself, of course. Rob Gronkowski was an animal once again, catching six passes for 127 yards and an incredible 23-yard shoestring catch for a touchdown. Julian Edelman had his second consecutive 100-yard game (third this season), catching nine passes for 101 yards. And Stephen Gostkowski continued his quietly excellent season by drilling two 53-yard field goals in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.


    But Brady was the architect of this win, once again.

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    Brady was unstoppable as the Patriots scored points on all five second-half possessions – three touchdowns followed by two field goals.

    Overall, Brady had his second-best game of the season, completing 29-of-41 passes for 371 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. After struggling early with the Texans’ pass rush and throwing a bad interception, Brady dissected Houston’s defense in the second half, completing 18-of-23 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown in the second half.

    He stood tall against the pass rush – not always his specialty – and had big third-down conversions to Edelman and Gronkowski to keep the chains moving. The Patriots were flawless in the second half for the second straight week, after overcoming a 24-0 deficit to the Broncos. And the Texans hung tough for most of the day, but couldn’t keep pace with the Patriots, with two crucial drops in the fourth quarter to halt their momentum.

    Follow Ben Volin on Twitter at @BenVolin.