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