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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

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

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

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

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

All lined up

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

For the first time in a month, buy msm in us and just the sixth time this season, buy msm 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, buy msm in us Logan Mankins at left guard, buy msm in us Ryan Wendell at center, buy msm in us Dan Connolly at right guard, buy msm in us and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.

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

Another key starter also returned from injury, buy msm in us with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, buy msm 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. Buy msm in us The other inactive players were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics, buy msm in us defensive linemen Jake Bequette and Ron Brace, buy msm in us safety Derrick Martin, buy msm in us and fullback James Develin, buy msm in us who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. Buy msm in us 28, buy msm in us but has yet to play.

Bolden: Return man

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

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

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

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

As for the suspension?

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

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

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

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



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

Secondary injuries

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

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Buy msm in us Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

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