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