By Michael Bennett
Dion Lewis (above) scored three touchdowns as the New England Patriots defeated the Houston Texans, 34-16, in yesterday’s divisional round game.
They will host the winner of tonight’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday for the AFC title.
The Patriots set an NFL record — since the 1970 merger — for consecutive trips to conference title games with six.
New England led from start to finish, and built an early 14-3 lead behind a pair of first-quarter touchdowns from Lewis — one via a 13-yard reception and the other on a 98-yard kickoff return.
In consecutive possessions, however, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw a tipped-pass interception intended for receiver Michael Floyd, Lewis fumbled a kickoff return, and New England went three-and-out.
The Texans closed the gap, thanks in large part to an unrelenting pass rush, but New England pulled away in the second half.
Brady finished 18-for-38 for 287 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
His two picks matched his regular-season total, despite throwing 432 passes in 12 games.
Lewis became the first player in NFL history to record a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown, and a kick return touchdown in a postseason game.
The Texans, meanwhile, needed their offense and quarterback Brock Osweiler to play a near-perfect game. He didn’t. Osweiler finished 18-for-38 for 287 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.