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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

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

“That was definitely a scheme play, cheap microlean online” Lloyd said. Cheap microlean online “We worked hard on that all week, cheap microlean online and when the opportunity presented itself, cheap microlean online Coach [Josh] McDaniels called it at the right time and we were able to take advantage of it.”

Lloyd took advantage of his opportunities, cheap microlean online catching seven passes for 89 yards, cheap microlean online his second-highest total of the season.

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

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

All lined up

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

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

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

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

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

Bolden: Return man

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

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

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

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

As for the suspension?

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

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

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

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



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

Secondary injuries

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

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Cheap microlean online Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

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