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