By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff
FOXBOROUGH — They might not have come right out and said it, buy tribulus but the Patriots were fully aware of the attention given to the Houston Texans and their preference for play-action passes on offense.
So when quarterback Tom Brady perfectly sold a handoff the second time the Patriots had the ball, buy tribulus receiver Brandon Lloyd never broke stride, buy tribulus blowing past the Texans who bit on the run possibility. Buy tribulus He caught Brady’s pass without a defender near him, buy tribulus coasting into the end zone and pushing the Patriots’ lead to 14-0 in a game they would win handily, buy tribulus 42-14, buy tribulus Monday night at Gillette Stadium.
“That was definitely a scheme play, buy tribulus” Lloyd said. Buy tribulus “We worked hard on that all week, buy tribulus and when the opportunity presented itself, buy tribulus Coach [Josh] McDaniels called it at the right time and we were able to take advantage of it.”
Lloyd took advantage of his opportunities, buy tribulus catching seven passes for 89 yards, buy tribulus his second-highest total of the season.
He scored two touchdowns, buy tribulus the second coming on a fumble recovery in the end zone, buy tribulus after Danny Woodhead lost the ball on a screen pass. Buy tribulus The ball bounced forward, buy tribulus with Lloyd diving on it. Buy tribulus Not how it’s drawn up, buy tribulus but the way the night went.
“Just a screen pass, buy tribulus we do our best to block downfield, buy tribulus and unfortunately the ball popped out, buy tribulus” Lloyd said. Buy tribulus “But we were there to make the play.”
All lined up
Since the start of the season, buy tribulus the Patriots’ depth chart on the offensive line read more like a wish list than a realistic starting lineup, buy tribulus with an assortment of injuries resulting in five different combinations.
For the first time in a month, buy tribulus and just the sixth time this season, buy tribulus the Patriots began the game with the five players who are designated by the team as its starters: Nate Solder at left tackle, buy tribulus Logan Mankins at left guard, buy tribulus Ryan Wendell at center, buy tribulus Dan Connolly at right guard, buy tribulus and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.
The group was made whole again with the return of Mankins, buy tribulus who had missed three consecutive games — and five of six — with ankle and calf injuries. Buy tribulus He was back at practice last week, buy tribulus in a limited role, buy tribulus but was in the starting lineup Monday night, buy tribulus relegating Donald Thomas to reserve status.
Another key starter also returned from injury, buy tribulus with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, buy tribulus back after sitting out two games with an ankle injury.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed his third straight game with a broken forearm. Buy tribulus The other inactive players were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics, buy tribulus defensive linemen Jake Bequette and Ron Brace, buy tribulus safety Derrick Martin, buy tribulus and fullback James Develin, buy tribulus who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. Buy tribulus 28, buy tribulus but has yet to play.
Bolden: Return man
The Patriots made the expected move official roughly three hours before kickoff, buy tribulus activating Brandon Bolden to the 53-man roster and making him eligible to play against the Texans after the running back served a four-game suspension.
Bolden, buy tribulus a rookie from Mississippi, buy tribulus was suspended by the NFL on Nov. Buy tribulus 9 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Buy tribulus He hadn’t played since Oct. Buy tribulus 14 at Seattle, buy tribulus when he injured a knee against the Seahawks. Buy tribulus The injury cost him two games, buy tribulus then the suspension added four more.
With 234 yards on 43 carries, buy tribulus Bolden came into the Texans game with the second-most rushing yards for the Patriots, buy tribulus and his 5.4-yard average led the team. Buy tribulus Stevan Ridley has been the workhorse since Bolden was forced out, buy tribulus gaining 486 yards in the six games Bolden missed.
Bolden declined interview requests Saturday, buy tribulus the first time he had been spotted in the locker room since the suspension was announced. Buy tribulus But he was ready to talk after the game, buy tribulus in which he played on special teams and got two late carries for 11 yards.
“Felt good, buy tribulus” Bolden said. Buy tribulus “Missing four weeks, buy tribulus you try not to get out of shape, buy tribulus you keep yourself active, buy tribulus it felt good getting out there for the first time.”
As for the suspension?
“It was a mistake. Buy tribulus Saddened that it happened, buy tribulus but the team kept going, buy tribulus so just got to keep moving forward, buy tribulus” Bolden said. Buy tribulus “Worked as hard as I could for as long as I could, buy tribulus make sure I don’t fall too far off.”
Turning their way
Devin McCourty’s end-zone interception on Houston’s second offensive series of the game extended the Patriots’ streak of forcing at least one turnover to 24 games. Buy tribulus The last team to force at least one turnover in every regular-season game was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.
With the interception, buy tribulus the Patriots have now forced 34 takeaways, buy tribulus one behind the Chicago Bears. Buy tribulus Their plus-24 turnover differential continues to lead the league.
“We know we have a good defense here, buy tribulus we’ve played really well the last couple of weeks, buy tribulus” McCourty said. Buy tribulus “The biggest focus for us is just trying to build on that.”
Even when the Patriots fumbled the bounces went their way. Buy tribulus Ridley lost the ball on the Patriots’ first drive of the game, buy tribulus inside the Texans’ 5-yard-line, buy tribulus but Aaron Hernandez jumped on it to extend the drive. Buy tribulus On the next play, buy tribulus Hernandez caught a 7-yard touchdown pass.
Early in the fourth quarter, buy tribulus Woodhead fumbled after catching a screen pass and being hit from behind by J.J. Buy tribulus Watt. Buy tribulus The ball flew into the end zone, buy tribulus with Lloyd diving on it for an unlikely touchdown.
Handing out Hall passes
If you’re a Patriots fan who’s never been to Canton, buy tribulus Ohio, buy tribulus and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, buy tribulus Canton is coming to you this week. Buy tribulus Well, buy tribulus at least it’s coming to Foxborough. Buy tribulus In recognition of the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary, buy tribulus the busts of the five former Patriots who have been enshrined — John Hannah, buy tribulus Andre Tippett, buy tribulus Nick Buoniconti, buy tribulus Mike Haynes, buy tribulus and Curtis Martin — will be on display at the Hall at Patriot Place.
The weeklong celebration will culminate with Sunday night’s home game against the San Francisco 49ers, buy tribulus with Tippett, buy tribulus Haynes, buy tribulus and Martin serving as honorary captains.
One downside to the Patriots’ victory was injuries to the defensive secondary. Buy tribulus The Patriots announced injuries to Aqib Talib (hip) and Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring). Buy tribulus Neither returned to the game after getting injured . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus With Julian Edelman out for the season with a foot injury, buy tribulus Wes Welker took over the Patriots’ punt return duties. Buy tribulus He returned four for 50 yards, buy tribulus with a long of 31 . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus Welker also caught three passes, buy tribulus pushing his streak of consecutive regular-season games with a catch to 107 . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus Donte Stallworth made the most of his return to the Patriots. Buy tribulus He caught only one pass from Brady, buy tribulus but the catch-and-run went for 63 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter, buy tribulus making it 28-0. Buy tribulus It was a case of practice makes perfect, buy tribulus even if the practice had been a while ago. Buy tribulus “That particular play is something we had worked on, buy tribulus even in the spring, buy tribulus’’ he said. Buy tribulus “It was just an opportunity where they were kind of flat-footed and it gave me an opportunity to run by the guy and Tommy made a great throw. Buy tribulus He put it up for me to catch it and that’s what I did.’’ . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus His team off until Wednesday, buy tribulus Celtics coach Doc Rivers was spotted on the sideline observing pregame warmups, buy tribulus wearing a Patriots red sweater and chatting up his Patriots counterpart, buy tribulus Bill Belichick. Buy tribulus Also in on the conversation: Boston sports fan Mark Wahlberg. Buy tribulus Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was also at the game, buy tribulus wearing a No. Buy tribulus 83 Patriots jersey . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus The Patriots extended their December winning streak to 13 games, buy tribulus dating to a 22-21 loss at Miami on Dec. Buy tribulus 6, buy tribulus 2009. Buy tribulus It ties the Patriots for the second-longest such streak with the Dallas Cowboys, buy tribulus who accomplished the feat from 1968-72. Buy tribulus The record belongs to the San Diego Chargers, buy tribulus winners of 18 straight from 2006-09. Buy tribulus New England also has won 21 straight games in the second half of the regular season. Buy tribulus The Patriots went 8-0 in the second half of 2010, buy tribulus 8-0 in 2011, buy tribulus and have won their first five this season. Buy tribulus The last loss from the back half of the schedule came in the regular-season finale in 2009, buy tribulus when the Patriots lost at Houston, buy tribulus 34-27 … In a pre-game Twitter message, buy tribulus self-described Patriots fan Donald Trump posted, buy tribulus “Good Luck to Bob Kraft, buy tribulus Tom Brady and Coach Bob Belichick tonight.” Needless to say, buy tribulus the Donald got plenty of unwanted attention for his fumble . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus . Buy tribulus Keep an eye out for Jerod Mayo on Tuesday. Buy tribulus He’ll be joining Subway spokesman Jared Fogle during multiple appearances around town, buy tribulus thanking unassuming fans with a dozen acts of kindness.
Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Buy tribulus Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.