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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

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

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

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

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

All lined up

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

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

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

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

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

Bolden: Return man

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

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

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

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

As for the suspension?

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

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

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

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



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

Secondary injuries

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

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

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