Watson, Hopkins lead Texans past Patriots 28-22 in pivotal win
Watson celebrates during Houston's victory/Photo: Godofredo A. Vasquez

DeShaun Watson completed 18 of 25 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns as well as catching a fourth, which turned out to be the game-winning score as the Houston Texans defeated the New England Patriots 28-22.

The Texans scored 21 unanswered points after the Patriots kicked a field goal to open the scoring. Watson hit Duke Johnson, Darren Fells and Kenny Stills in the end zone after New England kicker Kai Forbath converted on a 23-yard field goal.

After falling behind 28-9, the defending Super Bowl champions rallied with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but their comeback effort came up short as the Patriots fell to 10-2, now second in the AFC behind the Baltimore Ravens while Houston improves to 8-4.

Texans dominate first half after opening Patriots field goal

After taking their opening drive of the game 69 yards on 14 plays and eating up over seven minutes of the clock, the Patriots were stopped on three consecutive plays inside of the Texans' seven yard line and had to settle for Forbath's chip-shot field goal.

Houston's first touchdown was set up when Bradley Roby intercepted New England quarterback Tom Brady, putting the Texans at the Patriots' 21 and three plays later, Watson found Johnson from 14 yards out to give the hosts a 7-3 lead.

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After a New England punt, the Texans marched 88 yards in 13 plays in just under seven minutes with the drive capped by Watson's second touchdown toss of the evening, 13 yards to Fells to extend the Houston lead to 14-3.

Texans survive Patriots' fourth-quarter rally for key win

Coming out of the halftime break, coach Bill Belichick made a bold call, going for it on fourth-and-one from the Houston 42, Brady's pass to Mohamed Sanu falling incomplete. It didn't take the Texans long to turn that into points as Watson fired his third touchdown of the game, 35 yards to Stills to make it 21-3.

After Brady found James White to cut the Houston lead to 21-9 with Forbath missing the extra point, the final Houston touchdown proved to be important and creative. Watson faked a handoff left to Johnson before tossing it to Hopkins who followed the quarterback right before pitching it to him to extend the lead to 28-9.

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The Patriots attempted to rally, Brady finding White for the second time in the game from 11 yards, but the two-point conversion, a pass to Philipp Dorsett was no good. After a Texans punt pinned New England at their own six, Brady marched his team 94 yards, culminating with a 20-yard toss to Julian Edelman to cut the lead to 28-22.

New England would attempt an onside kick, which failed and Houston came away with a season-defining victory to put them one game ahead of the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South while New England's lead in the AFC East is just one game over the Buffalo Bills.

The Texans will return to action Sunday as they host the Denver Broncos while the Patriots go home for an AFC Championship Game rematch with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.