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