Houston Texans defeat New England Patriots, 34-27

HOUSTON -- At 12:20 p.m. local time this afternoon, Wes Welker sat on the Patriots bench and dabbed at his eyes with a white towel.

Welker had removed his helmet and replaced it with a backwards cap. Medical personnel surrounded him. Tom Brady was the first teammate to walk over and pat him on the leg; others followed.

"I've seen him look like that before," said Leland Welker, Wes's father, in a telephone conversation. "It was always in a losing effort or something like...

HOUSTON - Julian Edelman made his NFL debut Sept. 20, subbing for Wes Welker, who was inactive because of an injury. The Patriots rookie receiver may make his playoff debut under similar circumstances.

Edelman led all receivers Sept. 20 against the Jets, catching eight passes for 98 yards in a 16-9 loss at Giants Stadium. It was his most productive performance of the season until yesterday, when Welker’s day - and season - ended early because of a knee injury.

As the...

HOUSTON - Bernard Pollard doesn’t care if all of New England hates him.

Pollard is the player who dived at Tom Brady’s knee, shredding the quarterback’s ligaments and ending his 2008 season before the first game was complete. Pollard tormented the Patriots again yesterday, recovering a fumble for a touchdown, and intercepting a Brady pass that set up the winning touchdown in Houston’s 34-27 victory over New England.

Pollard, who was playing for Kansas City when he hu...

HOUSTON - Darius Butler had just crossed the finish line of his first NFL regular season, a 16-game marathon in which the rookie cornerback from the University of Connecticut had covered much ground and experienced many ups and downs.

And if any game was a microcosm of Butler’s first season with the Patriots, it was yesterday’s 34-27 setback to the Texans at Reliant Stadium.

One week after being listed as inactive for the game against the Jaguars, Butler was a starte...

HOUSTON - How many times this year did we see Wes Welker take the big hit and then jump to his feet? How many times did someone use the words “Wes Welker’’ and “Energizer Bunny’’ in the same sentence?

So how deep is the irony in seeing the league’s greatest possession receiver, and the Patriots’ unquestioned 2009 MVP, rendered hors de combat with no contact involved?

First quarter. Third and 4 at the New England 42. It began like so many other Tom Brady-to-Welker col...