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