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