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There were no surprises. The inactives were receiver Kamar Aiken, defensive end Jake Bequette, tight end Daniel Fells, defensive backs Derrick Martin and Malcolm Williams, and offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics. Of the seven, only McDonald, who missed two of the last four regular-season games with a shoulder injury, was on the injury report.
Multiple reporters saw Texans defensive end J.J. Watt spit on the Patriots logo at midfield during pregame warm-ups, and after the game Watt confirmed it — and that it’s part of his routine. “I do that every game, home or away. I go out to midfield, I jog out there, I spit a little bit, wipe my feet off, and then I go through my stretch,” he said. “No drama there. That’s 100 percent what I do every game, home or away.” . . . The special teams play wasn’t all bad for the Patriots. Punter Zoltan Mesko had one of his best games, with five punts for a 52.8-yard average. Included were two that went at least 60 yards: a 61-yarder early in the first quarter on his first punt of the game, and a 64-yarder early in the fourth quarter that received a handful of generous bounces before being downed . . . Tackle Nate Solder, a second-year Patriot who will be playing in his second AFC Championship game: “I guess I just assume it happens every year. But I know that’s not the case, so I feel honored and blessed to be here.” . . . Fourteen members of the Newtown, Conn., police department, including first responders at the Sandy Hook shooting last month, were honored before the game . . . The Patriots kept the Newtown decals on their helmets, and added another with the initials “DSB,” in memory of longtime equipment manager Donald Brocher, who died Jan. 1. Brocher was honored in a pregame moment of silence.