By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff
FOXBOROUGH — They might not have come right out and said it, discount tramaden 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, discount tramaden receiver Brandon Lloyd never broke stride, discount tramaden blowing past the Texans who bit on the run possibility. Discount tramaden He caught Brady’s pass without a defender near him, discount tramaden coasting into the end zone and pushing the Patriots’ lead to 14-0 in a game they would win handily, discount tramaden 42-14, discount tramaden Monday night at Gillette Stadium.
“That was definitely a scheme play, discount tramaden” Lloyd said. Discount tramaden “We worked hard on that all week, discount tramaden and when the opportunity presented itself, discount tramaden Coach [Josh] McDaniels called it at the right time and we were able to take advantage of it.”
Lloyd took advantage of his opportunities, discount tramaden catching seven passes for 89 yards, discount tramaden his second-highest total of the season.
He scored two touchdowns, discount tramaden the second coming on a fumble recovery in the end zone, discount tramaden after Danny Woodhead lost the ball on a screen pass. Discount tramaden The ball bounced forward, discount tramaden with Lloyd diving on it. Discount tramaden Not how it’s drawn up, discount tramaden but the way the night went.
“Just a screen pass, discount tramaden we do our best to block downfield, discount tramaden and unfortunately the ball popped out, discount tramaden” Lloyd said. Discount tramaden “But we were there to make the play.”
All lined up
Since the start of the season, discount tramaden the Patriots’ depth chart on the offensive line read more like a wish list than a realistic starting lineup, discount tramaden with an assortment of injuries resulting in five different combinations.
For the first time in a month, discount tramaden and just the sixth time this season, discount tramaden the Patriots began the game with the five players who are designated by the team as its starters: Nate Solder at left tackle, discount tramaden Logan Mankins at left guard, discount tramaden Ryan Wendell at center, discount tramaden Dan Connolly at right guard, discount tramaden and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.
The group was made whole again with the return of Mankins, discount tramaden who had missed three consecutive games — and five of six — with ankle and calf injuries. Discount tramaden He was back at practice last week, discount tramaden in a limited role, discount tramaden but was in the starting lineup Monday night, discount tramaden relegating Donald Thomas to reserve status.
Another key starter also returned from injury, discount tramaden with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, discount tramaden back after sitting out two games with an ankle injury.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed his third straight game with a broken forearm. Discount tramaden The other inactive players were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics, discount tramaden defensive linemen Jake Bequette and Ron Brace, discount tramaden safety Derrick Martin, discount tramaden and fullback James Develin, discount tramaden who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. Discount tramaden 28, discount tramaden but has yet to play.
Bolden: Return man
The Patriots made the expected move official roughly three hours before kickoff, discount tramaden 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, discount tramaden a rookie from Mississippi, discount tramaden was suspended by the NFL on Nov. Discount tramaden 9 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Discount tramaden He hadn’t played since Oct. Discount tramaden 14 at Seattle, discount tramaden when he injured a knee against the Seahawks. Discount tramaden The injury cost him two games, discount tramaden then the suspension added four more.
With 234 yards on 43 carries, discount tramaden Bolden came into the Texans game with the second-most rushing yards for the Patriots, discount tramaden and his 5.4-yard average led the team. Discount tramaden Stevan Ridley has been the workhorse since Bolden was forced out, discount tramaden gaining 486 yards in the six games Bolden missed.
Bolden declined interview requests Saturday, discount tramaden the first time he had been spotted in the locker room since the suspension was announced. Discount tramaden But he was ready to talk after the game, discount tramaden in which he played on special teams and got two late carries for 11 yards.
“Felt good, discount tramaden” Bolden said. Discount tramaden “Missing four weeks, discount tramaden you try not to get out of shape, discount tramaden you keep yourself active, discount tramaden it felt good getting out there for the first time.”
As for the suspension?
“It was a mistake. Discount tramaden Saddened that it happened, discount tramaden but the team kept going, discount tramaden so just got to keep moving forward, discount tramaden” Bolden said. Discount tramaden “Worked as hard as I could for as long as I could, discount tramaden 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. Discount tramaden The last team to force at least one turnover in every regular-season game was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.
With the interception, discount tramaden the Patriots have now forced 34 takeaways, discount tramaden one behind the Chicago Bears. Discount tramaden Their plus-24 turnover differential continues to lead the league.
“We know we have a good defense here, discount tramaden we’ve played really well the last couple of weeks, discount tramaden” McCourty said. Discount tramaden “The biggest focus for us is just trying to build on that.”
Even when the Patriots fumbled the bounces went their way. Discount tramaden Ridley lost the ball on the Patriots’ first drive of the game, discount tramaden inside the Texans’ 5-yard-line, discount tramaden but Aaron Hernandez jumped on it to extend the drive. Discount tramaden On the next play, discount tramaden Hernandez caught a 7-yard touchdown pass.
Early in the fourth quarter, discount tramaden Woodhead fumbled after catching a screen pass and being hit from behind by J.J. Discount tramaden Watt. Discount tramaden The ball flew into the end zone, discount tramaden 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, discount tramaden Ohio, discount tramaden and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, discount tramaden Canton is coming to you this week. Discount tramaden Well, discount tramaden at least it’s coming to Foxborough. Discount tramaden In recognition of the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary, discount tramaden the busts of the five former Patriots who have been enshrined — John Hannah, discount tramaden Andre Tippett, discount tramaden Nick Buoniconti, discount tramaden Mike Haynes, discount tramaden 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, discount tramaden with Tippett, discount tramaden Haynes, discount tramaden and Martin serving as honorary captains.
One downside to the Patriots’ victory was injuries to the defensive secondary. Discount tramaden The Patriots announced injuries to Aqib Talib (hip) and Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring). Discount tramaden Neither returned to the game after getting injured . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden With Julian Edelman out for the season with a foot injury, discount tramaden Wes Welker took over the Patriots’ punt return duties. Discount tramaden He returned four for 50 yards, discount tramaden with a long of 31 . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden Welker also caught three passes, discount tramaden pushing his streak of consecutive regular-season games with a catch to 107 . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden Donte Stallworth made the most of his return to the Patriots. Discount tramaden He caught only one pass from Brady, discount tramaden but the catch-and-run went for 63 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter, discount tramaden making it 28-0. Discount tramaden It was a case of practice makes perfect, discount tramaden even if the practice had been a while ago. Discount tramaden “That particular play is something we had worked on, discount tramaden even in the spring, discount tramaden’’ he said. Discount tramaden “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. Discount tramaden He put it up for me to catch it and that’s what I did.’’ . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden His team off until Wednesday, discount tramaden Celtics coach Doc Rivers was spotted on the sideline observing pregame warmups, discount tramaden wearing a Patriots red sweater and chatting up his Patriots counterpart, discount tramaden Bill Belichick. Discount tramaden Also in on the conversation: Boston sports fan Mark Wahlberg. Discount tramaden Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was also at the game, discount tramaden wearing a No. Discount tramaden 83 Patriots jersey . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden The Patriots extended their December winning streak to 13 games, discount tramaden dating to a 22-21 loss at Miami on Dec. Discount tramaden 6, discount tramaden 2009. Discount tramaden It ties the Patriots for the second-longest such streak with the Dallas Cowboys, discount tramaden who accomplished the feat from 1968-72. Discount tramaden The record belongs to the San Diego Chargers, discount tramaden winners of 18 straight from 2006-09. Discount tramaden New England also has won 21 straight games in the second half of the regular season. Discount tramaden The Patriots went 8-0 in the second half of 2010, discount tramaden 8-0 in 2011, discount tramaden and have won their first five this season. Discount tramaden The last loss from the back half of the schedule came in the regular-season finale in 2009, discount tramaden when the Patriots lost at Houston, discount tramaden 34-27 … In a pre-game Twitter message, discount tramaden self-described Patriots fan Donald Trump posted, discount tramaden “Good Luck to Bob Kraft, discount tramaden Tom Brady and Coach Bob Belichick tonight.” Needless to say, discount tramaden the Donald got plenty of unwanted attention for his fumble . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden . Discount tramaden Keep an eye out for Jerod Mayo on Tuesday. Discount tramaden He’ll be joining Subway spokesman Jared Fogle during multiple appearances around town, discount tramaden thanking unassuming fans with a dozen acts of kindness.
Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Discount tramaden Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.