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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — They might not have come right out and said it, buy cheap precose 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 cheap precose receiver Brandon Lloyd never broke stride, buy cheap precose blowing past the Texans who bit on the run possibility. Buy cheap precose He caught Brady’s pass without a defender near him, buy cheap precose coasting into the end zone and pushing the Patriots’ lead to 14-0 in a game they would win handily, buy cheap precose 42-14, buy cheap precose Monday night at Gillette Stadium.

“That was definitely a scheme play, buy cheap precose” Lloyd said. Buy cheap precose “We worked hard on that all week, buy cheap precose and when the opportunity presented itself, buy cheap precose 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 cheap precose catching seven passes for 89 yards, buy cheap precose his second-highest total of the season.

He scored two touchdowns, buy cheap precose the second coming on a fumble recovery in the end zone, buy cheap precose after Danny Woodhead lost the ball on a screen pass. Buy cheap precose The ball bounced forward, buy cheap precose with Lloyd diving on it. Buy cheap precose Not how it’s drawn up, buy cheap precose but the way the night went.

“Just a screen pass, buy cheap precose we do our best to block downfield, buy cheap precose and unfortunately the ball popped out, buy cheap precose” Lloyd said. Buy cheap precose “But we were there to make the play.”

All lined up

Since the start of the season, buy cheap precose the Patriots’ depth chart on the offensive line read more like a wish list than a realistic starting lineup, buy cheap precose with an assortment of injuries resulting in five different combinations.

For the first time in a month, buy cheap precose and just the sixth time this season, buy cheap precose the Patriots began the game with the five players who are designated by the team as its starters: Nate Solder at left tackle, buy cheap precose Logan Mankins at left guard, buy cheap precose Ryan Wendell at center, buy cheap precose Dan Connolly at right guard, buy cheap precose and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.

The group was made whole again with the return of Mankins, buy cheap precose who had missed three consecutive games — and five of six — with ankle and calf injuries. Buy cheap precose He was back at practice last week, buy cheap precose in a limited role, buy cheap precose but was in the starting lineup Monday night, buy cheap precose relegating Donald Thomas to reserve status.

Another key starter also returned from injury, buy cheap precose with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, buy cheap precose back after sitting out two games with an ankle injury.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed his third straight game with a broken forearm. Buy cheap precose The other inactive players were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics, buy cheap precose defensive linemen Jake Bequette and Ron Brace, buy cheap precose safety Derrick Martin, buy cheap precose and fullback James Develin, buy cheap precose who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. Buy cheap precose 28, buy cheap precose but has yet to play.

Bolden: Return man

The Patriots made the expected move official roughly three hours before kickoff, buy cheap precose 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 cheap precose a rookie from Mississippi, buy cheap precose was suspended by the NFL on Nov. Buy cheap precose 9 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Buy cheap precose He hadn’t played since Oct. Buy cheap precose 14 at Seattle, buy cheap precose when he injured a knee against the Seahawks. Buy cheap precose The injury cost him two games, buy cheap precose then the suspension added four more.

With 234 yards on 43 carries, buy cheap precose Bolden came into the Texans game with the second-most rushing yards for the Patriots, buy cheap precose and his 5.4-yard average led the team. Buy cheap precose Stevan Ridley has been the workhorse since Bolden was forced out, buy cheap precose gaining 486 yards in the six games Bolden missed.

Bolden declined interview requests Saturday, buy cheap precose the first time he had been spotted in the locker room since the suspension was announced. Buy cheap precose But he was ready to talk after the game, buy cheap precose in which he played on special teams and got two late carries for 11 yards.

“Felt good, buy cheap precose” Bolden said. Buy cheap precose “Missing four weeks, buy cheap precose you try not to get out of shape, buy cheap precose you keep yourself active, buy cheap precose it felt good getting out there for the first time.”

As for the suspension?

“It was a mistake. Buy cheap precose Saddened that it happened, buy cheap precose but the team kept going, buy cheap precose so just got to keep moving forward, buy cheap precose” Bolden said. Buy cheap precose “Worked as hard as I could for as long as I could, buy cheap precose 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 cheap precose The last team to force at least one turnover in every regular-season game was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.

With the interception, buy cheap precose the Patriots have now forced 34 takeaways, buy cheap precose one behind the Chicago Bears. Buy cheap precose Their plus-24 turnover differential continues to lead the league.

“We know we have a good defense here, buy cheap precose we’ve played really well the last couple of weeks, buy cheap precose” McCourty said. Buy cheap precose “The biggest focus for us is just trying to build on that.”

Even when the Patriots fumbled the bounces went their way. Buy cheap precose Ridley lost the ball on the Patriots’ first drive of the game, buy cheap precose inside the Texans’ 5-yard-line, buy cheap precose but Aaron Hernandez jumped on it to extend the drive. Buy cheap precose On the next play, buy cheap precose Hernandez caught a 7-yard touchdown pass.



Early in the fourth quarter, buy cheap precose Woodhead fumbled after catching a screen pass and being hit from behind by J.J. Buy cheap precose Watt. Buy cheap precose The ball flew into the end zone, buy cheap precose 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 cheap precose Ohio, buy cheap precose and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, buy cheap precose Canton is coming to you this week. Buy cheap precose Well, buy cheap precose at least it’s coming to Foxborough. Buy cheap precose In recognition of the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary, buy cheap precose the busts of the five former Patriots who have been enshrined — John Hannah, buy cheap precose Andre Tippett, buy cheap precose Nick Buoniconti, buy cheap precose Mike Haynes, buy cheap precose 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 cheap precose with Tippett, buy cheap precose Haynes, buy cheap precose and Martin serving as honorary captains.

Secondary injuries

One downside to the Patriots’ victory was injuries to the defensive secondary. Buy cheap precose The Patriots announced injuries to Aqib Talib (hip) and Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring). Buy cheap precose Neither returned to the game after getting injured . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose With Julian Edelman out for the season with a foot injury, buy cheap precose Wes Welker took over the Patriots’ punt return duties. Buy cheap precose He returned four for 50 yards, buy cheap precose with a long of 31 . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose Welker also caught three passes, buy cheap precose pushing his streak of consecutive regular-season games with a catch to 107 . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose Donte Stallworth made the most of his return to the Patriots. Buy cheap precose He caught only one pass from Brady, buy cheap precose but the catch-and-run went for 63 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter, buy cheap precose making it 28-0. Buy cheap precose It was a case of practice makes perfect, buy cheap precose even if the practice had been a while ago. Buy cheap precose “That particular play is something we had worked on, buy cheap precose even in the spring, buy cheap precose’’ he said. Buy cheap precose “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 cheap precose He put it up for me to catch it and that’s what I did.’’ . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose His team off until Wednesday, buy cheap precose Celtics coach Doc Rivers was spotted on the sideline observing pregame warmups, buy cheap precose wearing a Patriots red sweater and chatting up his Patriots counterpart, buy cheap precose Bill Belichick. Buy cheap precose Also in on the conversation: Boston sports fan Mark Wahlberg. Buy cheap precose Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was also at the game, buy cheap precose wearing a No. Buy cheap precose 83 Patriots jersey . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose The Patriots extended their December winning streak to 13 games, buy cheap precose dating to a 22-21 loss at Miami on Dec. Buy cheap precose 6, buy cheap precose 2009. Buy cheap precose It ties the Patriots for the second-longest such streak with the Dallas Cowboys, buy cheap precose who accomplished the feat from 1968-72. Buy cheap precose The record belongs to the San Diego Chargers, buy cheap precose winners of 18 straight from 2006-09. Buy cheap precose New England also has won 21 straight games in the second half of the regular season. Buy cheap precose The Patriots went 8-0 in the second half of 2010, buy cheap precose 8-0 in 2011, buy cheap precose and have won their first five this season. Buy cheap precose The last loss from the back half of the schedule came in the regular-season finale in 2009, buy cheap precose when the Patriots lost at Houston, buy cheap precose 34-27 … In a pre-game Twitter message, buy cheap precose self-described Patriots fan Donald Trump posted, buy cheap precose “Good Luck to Bob Kraft, buy cheap precose Tom Brady and Coach Bob Belichick tonight.” Needless to say, buy cheap precose the Donald got plenty of unwanted attention for his fumble . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose . Buy cheap precose Keep an eye out for Jerod Mayo on Tuesday. Buy cheap precose He’ll be joining Subway spokesman Jared Fogle during multiple appearances around town, buy cheap precose thanking unassuming fans with a dozen acts of kindness.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Buy cheap precose Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

Source: http://bostonglobe.com/sports/2012/12/11/logan-mankins-returns-makes-patriots-line-whole/A1Xtp2mNJfSRC0vUxtSlUI/story.html