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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

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

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

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

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

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

All lined up

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

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

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

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

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

Bolden: Return man

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

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

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

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

As for the suspension?

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

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

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

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



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

Secondary injuries

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

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

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